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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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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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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Free Sales Automation Done Right E-Book Part Three – Understanding the Sales Opportunity

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SADR Part 3

Part Three of Sales Automation Done Right is now available as a free e-book in The HUB Library.

This part is called “Understanding the Opportunity”, and it’s predominantly sales methodology. It represents a third of Sales Automation Done Right, and if you are in any way involved in applying technology to your selling environment, you should find it interesting, and maybe controversial.

Specifically, it talks about new ways of describing the sales process in a field that I call “computational selling.” I am deliberately steering away from the term Sales Force Automation (SFA) because what I talk about goes further than SFA–it describes a deeper involvement of the computer in the sales process itself.  Implemented correctly, computational selling removes some tedious but crucial background legwork that would otherwise divert the salesperson’s focus from direct customer interaction.

Here are a few notes on what to expect in Part Three:

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The Sales Cycle: A Computer Model

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Abstract Computer Model

The idea of a computer model of the sales cycle raises a few eyebrows at our OPM sales training, and it’s understandable. Why put in the effort to model the sale when it is tough enough dealing with the real thing?  We designed the model to enable a computer to understand the critical components that drive the dynamics of the sales process.

Our sales model was based on lessons learned in years of field sales experience with a variety of products and customers in complex sales cycles. The concepts that have traditionally described the sale — lead, customer, opportunity, interaction, etc. — needed to be reframed to match the rigorous and logical “thinking” process of the computer.

After testing the model in thousands of real sales situations, we found it could be used outside of its original scope. These ideas don’t need the support of technology to succeed, although they come alive on the computer. If salespeople understand the principles behind the model and use them rigorously in their selling, they will win more sales, whether they use a computer or not.

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Your Sales Methods – Are They Effective and Consistent?

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Most salespeople are aware of at least one, maybe more, sales methods. Methods spell out a consistent approach to some aspect of selling. The famous ones have passed the test of time and are ingrained through books and training programs. Most established methods deal with the tactical issues of how to win the sale—you are in front of the customer so what do you say or do to further your progress in the sale?

Usually a sales team will choose a method and it’s assumed that everyone on the team stick to it. But that’s not always the case. Often individual salespeople will use what’s most comfortable for them. This can be a problem if a common technological platform for communication and collaboration is being used (SFA or CRM). Disparate ideas on words and methods don’t work well in a structured, computer-networked environment. Here are some examples of when a common sales method and sales lexicon is definitely needed (each of the examples are from the same hypothetical sales situation;

Which point are you at in the sales cycle?

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Free Sales Automation Done Right E-book Part 2 – The Core Competencies

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Sales Automation Done Right - The Core Competencies

The next part of Sales Automation Done Right is now available as a free e-book from The HUB library.

Part Two is called “The Core Competencies” and discusses the topics of territory, account, contact and sales cycle management. When I wrote this material I was looking at the issues facing the sales manager and how he or she might be setting up a new CRM system. The competencies definitely are a good starting point.

When I look back to the way I framed this—I was writing it ten years ago—I was very much homing in on the CRM view of things. Later in the book, the strategic importance of what happens in the sales cycle took over and moved conversation more in the direction of SFA.

Territories, accounts and contacts very much fall under the jurisdiction of CRM. The information deals with the details of “who is the customer?”, “who do they work for?”, and which salesperson is assigned to them (geographically or otherwise.) It’s good to get all of that stuff straightened out before launching a CRM initiative. The data under in these three silos needs to be complete and above all, accurate—salespeople do and should demand that.

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Free Sales Automation E-Book!

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SADR Part 1

Sales Automation Done Right now available as a series of five free e-books

I published Sales Automation Done Right (SADR) in 2005. I tried to cram as much in as I could about my experiences with computerizing business processes in marketing, sales and service—the heart of what we refer to as Customer Relationship Management, or CRM. Then how come I didn’t call the book “Customer Relationship Management Done Right?” Well, I paid attention to what I find the most neglected part of the CRM story, which is sales automation. Part of sales automation resides in the realm of CRM, but part (and the most important part) does not.

I really wrote the book to evangelize the positive benefits of technology in the front office. I had experienced success first hand, and I figured I had a lot to pass on. So I packed in a lot of material and on a host of what might seem to be disparate topics. To me, one of the biggest payoffs for computers in business resided with the sales department. I’ve given that a lot of attention and it’s a pet passion—hence the book.

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The Method Controlled Us

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I was on a cruise once and, as you would expect, took advantage of the peace and quiet to read a couple of excellent books. Cruises are always a good opportunity for that, something that I find tough to do in life back home. One of them was Bob Woodward’s account of Deep-Throat, the mysterious contact who gave him and Carl Bernstein guidance while investigating the Watergate break-in. For those of you who are too young to remember, their’s was the investigative reporting that led directly to the seminal event of the first and only US President to resign from office.

In a short postscript Bernstein said something that caught my attention:

“Reporters may believe they control the story, but the story always controls the reporters.”

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