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Gamification and Sales Automation

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Anyone interested in the direction that business applications are evolving toward these days will have encountered the term “gamification.” In addition to the fact that my spell checker insists on changing it to “ramification,” I don’t much like the word—it seems a little too contrived. But, gamification looks like it is here to stay, even though experts have widely different views about what gamification is.

The basic idea is simple. People like games, but they don’t like work. Games are fun—so put key elements of games into work, and work will become fun. Too much of a stretch?—I don’t think so. I think gamification fits extremely well with computational selling (sales automation, sales force automation, etc.) In fact, I have always been downright enthusiastic about the idea.

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Why Would You Let CRM Adoption Be Optional?

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The initial idea for this post was to try to explain the “great divide”—the perceived barrier that exists between salespeople and sales management concerning the value of CRM. Analysts say that the historical morphing of contact management into CRM was driven by salespeople. I think that’s true—salespeople crave information on their customers, especially if the information is current and correct. Now things are different—sales departments are getting a reputation for being the major antagonists against CRM.

One word quickly rose to the surface of the pile when I researched the “great divide”—that word is adoption. The term adoption is used to describe the success or failure of a CRM initiative. CRM is getting a bad rap for low adoption—the system is put in place, and people don’t use it. A quick Google search on “CRM adoption” will show you just how prevalent this problem is.

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The Competition Is Doing Nothing

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The competition is rarely doing nothing. It’s best to assume in any sales situation that the competition is doing at least as good as you are, and maybe better. Selling is about winning against competitors—people like you, from companies like yours, with products or services that are, in the customer’s eyes, in the running for the deal that’s currently going down.

Competition is an essential part of sales. Selling well means doing a better job of convincing the customer that you have something better to offer than someone else. On first glance the alternatives might look indistinguishable—any of them will satisfy the customer’s requirements, but the best salespeople will have an uncanny knack at singling out something that makes what they have different, different enough that the customer sees it as representing better value–standing out from the crowd.

But there is another quite different alternative in the sales opportunity, one representing a tougher competitive challenge to the salesperson—the customer may elect not to buy anything at all. It’s important to understand what I really mean here. The opportunity has been identified, the customer has expressed a legitimate need and the sales cycle is underway, often near completion. The customer decides, “after a lot of work, research, trial, and discussion, we’ve decided that we’re not going to do that—we’ll revert to status quo.”

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When Is a Phone Not a Phone?

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Galaxy NX

When it’s a camera? When it’s a computer?

Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, seems to be going through an identity crisis in search for the answer to this question. Recently they released two new products that are causing people to reflect on the question, “who did they have in mind when they designed this?”

The first product is a decent looking camera that from the front shows its family heritage, the NX system that competes in the mirrorless, interchangeable lens, camera market along side the likes of Panasonic, Olympus, and now Canon and Nikon. The other new product is an updated version of the Galaxy camera that I first wrote about here. So what’s going on?

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Free Sales Automation Done Right E-Book Part Five – Conclusions

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Sales Automation Done Right - Part Five

This is the final installment in the five-part, e-book edition of Sales Automation Done Right. And, it’s the shortest. It’s really an essay summarizing how true sales automation can reap huge benefits for organizations understanding what needs to be done and executing that correctly.

What’s important to grasp is the true meaning of “sales effectiveness”—selling better than the competition, increasing won/lost ratios, losing less and winning more. Part 5 suggests reframing sales force automation (SFA) to specifically mean using technology to improve sales effectiveness, as it is defined like this. The problem is that the other “e” word, efficiency, gets in the way. Sales can increase because technology frees up more time to sell. That’s great, and you need that to happen. But that’s only half the benefit.

The neglected half is that ability to win more sales in the face of strong competition. That is where Sales Automation Done Right sets out to level the playing field. Learn the principles you’ll find there and your team will sell better. The sub-title of SADR is “leveraging technology for competitive advantage in sales.” If I had to do it again, I would change that last phrase to “competitive advantage in selling.”

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The Sales Process – “All the World’s a Stage …” (Part Two)

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Final Curtain

Here are some more thoughts on the metaphor of the stage play versus the sales transaction that began in this post. As in that post, the italics are taken from my original description of the SalesWays Opportunity Portfolio Management training course.

Remember, the reason that we get precise in the language of sales is to define an exact model of the sales process that the computer can understand. The advantage of having consistent understanding of the terms across the sales team is that it builds transparency which in turn leads to efficiency. Efficiency is one of those two E words (Effectiveness being the other) that you hope will ensue when you implement CRM or SFA. This post ends with the “Final Curtain” and will, indeed, mark the end of this two part thread on the stage metaphor. I promise.

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The Sales Process – “All the World’s a Stage …”

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Sales Process on Stage

“All the world’s a stage and we’re all players and salespeople.”

This quote is from an article by Liz Guthridge called, “Learn to love selling in the year of the snake.”

Actually, Liz was reviewing a recent book by Dan Pink called “To Sell Is Human.” I checked out the inside of the book on Amazon and placed an order—looks like good stuff to me.

Liz is enamored by a suggestion in the book to enhance the skills of pitching, improvisation, and serving. To focus on improvisation, she involves herself in a course of improv and finds it has a positive impact on her selling. Summing up she says, “With apologies to Shakespeare, I prefer selling to acting as influencing seems more natural to me . . .”

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Free Sales Automation Done Right E-Book Part Four – The Technology of Sales Automation

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SADR - Part 4

This E-Book, The Technology of Sales Automation, explains how it is possible to get proactive and valuable assistance from a computer that has been programmed with basic information about how sales transactions progress and evolve through the sales cycle.

The sales model, which we’ve touched on in other posts, is the key to making this happen. With some precise information about the actual experiences in the sale, entered by the salesperson, the computer can use intelligent response technology to figure out the difference between real and ideal. If reality fits the model’s concept of what should be happening, everything is fine. If not, the computer can provide some cautionary advice on what to do. If it sounds complicated, this e-book explains everything with examples. Plus, you can download a free, personal version of ASPEC to see how it works in practice.

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Selling Styles and Customer Interactions

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Interaction Styles

An earlier post discussed the two selling styles and how salespeople needed to blend them to suit the occasion—a particular point in the sales cycle. What is meant by blending styles? To answer this question, we need to revisit customer interactions. Most selling is done in face to face interactions with the customer, and sales cycles usually involve several meetings in which the salesperson plays out a scripted strategy to win the sale.

Although a good salesperson will have mapped out the objectives of a call beforehand, things don’t always go as planned. The customer may be having a bad day which will bring the salesperson’s personal skills into play. Conversely, the customer may be ready to take off for a weekend at the cottage, and the salesperson must try to get the business taken care of as there may not be another chance for a long time. The salesperson must hop between relationship and opportunity focus as appropriate.

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The Four Selling Types and Where You Should Be

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matrix opporutnity vs relationship

Last time we finished at the point of declaring two basic selling styles, which we called relationship- and opportunity-focused. Only two? Well, we are at the 60,000 foot level here. Although these are broad generalizations, salespeople will have no trouble concluding in which camp they or their associates feel most comfortable. It boils down to selling through devising strategies or through relationship building, and at the end of the day, a bit of both. In this post we’ll use the 2 x 2 matrix tool to see how that works out.

Salespeople will have a comfort zone that lies to some degree with one of the two styles, and it’s important to know and recognize that. The affinity for one style over the other will also shift depending on circumstances, depending even how you feel physically or mentally on a particular day. It’s tough to appear to be the brightest star the room when you are sick with a bad case of the flu. Once you know which of the styles put you in your element, you can work on the other and become more proficient at blending it in.

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