What is Sales – A View From An Expert?

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I’m reading a good book called Zero to One, written by Peter Thiel, one the guys who founded PayPal. My life was changed by that app – my wife would agree.

Peter includes a chapter on sales which looks like it’s written for people in business who don’t understand sales – to the extent that in their business sales does not exist.

For instance:

“The most fundamental reason that even businesspeople underestimate the importance of sales is the systematic effort to hide it at every level of every field in a world secretly driven by it.”

Wow! A very elegant statement of a phenomenon that, after many years in sales, I continue to run into.

“The engineer’s grail is a product great enough that “it sells itself.” But anyone who would actually say this about a real product must be lying: either he’s delusional (lying to himself) or he’s selling something (and thereby contradicting himself).”

Engineering companies hate to admit they have salespeople. A consultant friend of mine in Germany has a large contract to help ease a large construction company into the idea that they should build a sales department. They realized this after too many competing companies taking business from them.

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The Difficult Close

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Most closing strategies assume that you developed the correct selling strategy for the opportunity and properly executed effective tactics. Closing then becomes the natural result of the strategy and tactics, and done right, it is seamless and predictable. Of course, it usually doesn’t work that way

Take a look at your won/lost ratio. It’s your professional batting average and what it tells you is the probably 75% of the time, give or take, you lose. So three times out of four when you arrive at the closing phase of the sales cycle, it’s, if not clear, then at least likely that you’re not going to win this one. So what do you do at that point?

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20 Reasons to Share Your Sales Process with Your ComputerReason No 1 – Because It’s Cool

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Well right off the bat, computers are cool. Every salesperson has one in some form or another. The choice is not limited to laptops or desktops—might as well include smartphones, tablets, phablets, ultrabooks, chromebooks and, of course, pads and pods. And now there’s wearable computing—soon salespeople will be looking through Google Glass, and reading their schedule on their iWatch, Gear 2, and so on (and on).

Technology has proven valuable for salespeople, assisting in a zillion different ways to do things better, faster, and overall, just making things easier. The effect is, or should be, more sales. But all of this is not that new— can it be cool? Cool easily becomes a passing fad.

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How to be Highly Effective in Sales Management

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This article is dedicated to sales managers. We have discussed a lot about methods and tools that assist salespeople in their work, but how can we help managers? What is the important information they need to work effectively with the team?

Contrary to the conventional wisdom found in many companies, when it comes to sales productivity indicators, less is more. That is, just a few indicators are sufficient to evaluate the team’s performance. To manage sales requires focus, alertness and speed in decision making. There is not much time for extensive analysis.

All of us who work in sales know that, at the end of the day, what matters is whether or not we achieve our sales goals. This is the main indicator of sales performance.

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Sales Effectiveness and Sales Efficiency: A Thought Experiment

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When I write about selling I wince every time I have to use one of the two E words — ­Efficiency and Effectiveness. These occur so much in sales language that we’ve become complacent about their impact and meaning. All salespeople want to sell more — and they can creating more opportunities (Efficiency) or by winning more opportunities (Effectiveness).

I go overboard with the E words in my book, Sales Automation Done Right, (hey, that was written ten years ago, so no apologies). Then I used the simple example of the compounding effect of the building efficiency over effectiveness (E squared, if you are at all scientific.) You can find that discussion in the free e-book in our library. (Scroll down to the five SADR Extractions.)  I finished up that discussion with the proposition that “Effectiveness on top of efficiency produces dramatic increases in sales. It’s the same as compound interest in the bank account.” But something tells me that that discussion is just a little too abstract.

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The Challenge of Selling to a Buying Center

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To effectively manage a sales cycle, the salesperson must understand and mirror the buying process. This process can be broken down into the three phases: recognition of need, evaluation of solutions, and negotiation. A well-managed sales cycle will follow these phases by uncovering customer’s needs (Probing), demonstrating superior solution (Proving), and removing barriers to getting the order (Closing).

But what does this mean to the sales person? Uncover who´s need to? Convince whom? Who actually is the customer –  the company, an individual or a group? What does this mean for the sales cycle?

Industrial buying decisions, in contrast to consumer purchases, are generally taken by several individuals, the so called buying center. The sales person is faced with two challenges: The composition of the buying center and the dynamics of the decision making process within it.

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Full-Service CRM: Completing the CRM Cycle

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While many companies still struggle with implementing even the most basic CRM solutions, others have moved a big step forward by including their service organization and letting it share customer information with marketing and sales. Service contributes to a company’s success in many ways, and understanding this contribution makes the performance impact of an integrated CRM solution obvious and significant.

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SEO: The Long-Term Investment That Keeps on Giving

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Businesses these days make sure that they are properly represented online. With use of the Internet a common and necessary part of doing business, just being online is no longer a special edge. In fact, this has become a requirement for the success of almost any business. With the intense global competition where we all now have to survive, just having an online presence is not going to help. Competition is high in all industries and in all markets. With all the advancement in the communication means, people get their needs fulfilled easily and quickly. Whoever is capable of handling their needs in the best manner is going to do business.

Just like in the ‘olden days’ when the company had to seek out the customers in the real world and present its offerings to them, in the virtual world this is true as well – one has to seek out the customer and ensure that they get to learn about the offering. The best way to do this is to invest in SEO, search engine optimization.

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Does Your Sales Forecast Help You?

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In America, it’s April 14th, (April 29th in Canada and Brazil, May 30 in Germany, and June 29 in Papua New Guinea) and your income taxes are due tomorrow. You don’t want to do them, but you have to. They will be wrong, but you don’t know how wrong. You will cheat and hope you don’t get caught. There are expensive professionals and cheap software that will do it for you and give you someone to blame. And the audit is only slightly preferable to prison.

Quick – tell me the difference between this and doing your sales forecast.

Hint – you only have to do your taxes once a year.

Yes, forecasting. The very word itself makes you cringe. Like marriage counseling or colonoscopy. But it won’t go away, no matter how much you wish.

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Your CRM Solution – Great Dashboard and Poor Results

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Imagine someone is buying a car simply based on the quality of the dashboard instrumentation. The speedometer is more accurate than an average car, there is a wonderful navigation system that provides the driver with details of their journey, and a number of additional instruments displaying the engine condition. All of this is nicely presented with an attractive design and interface. Now this person takes out the new car for their first ride and it turns out that the car performs poorly. The acceleration is too low to keep up with the traffic. The fuel economy, combined with a small fuel tank, forces the driver to make frequent stops costing valuable time. The exclusive focus on the dashboard led to the purchase of a car with low performance superbly displayed on a fancy dashboard.

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