NancyNardin jeremydphotography 2678 Reflections on 2013: Social Proof, Quota Killers, Failing CRM, and Recommendations

Top Sales World just held their annual ceremony for the Top Sales and Marketing Awards. Jonathan Farrington and Gerhard Gschwandtner gave their usual entertaining yet heartfelt commentary. You can tell they truly enjoy the opportunity to recognize people, resources and tools that advance our industry in one way or another.  In all, there were 16 categories that honored thought-leaders; books, blogs and articles; software tools; and useful resources. It’s truly an exciting time for those in the marketing and sales profession. Never before, have we had such an amazing array of resources, knowledge, and dialogue in which to immerse ourselves.

Let’s face it, we all suffer from frazzled customer syndrome – as best-selling author and speaker Jill Konrath would put it. None-the-less, it’s to our benefit to take the time to learn from and seek inspiration from each other. And Jonathan and Gerhart’s  Top Sales and Marketing Awards ceremony is a good place to start. Congratulations to all the finalists and to the medal winners. No doubt there were more, equally deserving nominations than there were nomination slots.

Many friends and members of the Smart Selling Tools community were recognized like the medal winners at DiscoverOrg, Glider, WittyParrot, Membrain, KnowledgeTree, Seismic, Hushly, PGI and ToutApp. And Smart Selling Tools itself was nominated in several categories. For me personally, I was honored to get a Silver award for best Sales Blog Post of 2013.

I want to encourage you to read some of the bloggers that inspire me every day: Lori RichardsonJoanne BlackJill KonrathBabette Ten HakenTamara SchenkMatt HeinzBob ApolloGary Hart and of course, Tibor Shanto (who took the gold for Best Sales and Marketing Blog of 2013), just to name a few. I’m sure you have a few of your own favorites. Why not share them in the comments section for all to see?

Since 2013 is coming to a fast close, I thought I would offer some of our most popular posts here, including the one that took the silver.

Why Your Focus on Quota is Killing Revenue Growth (Silver medal winner for best Sales Blog Post of 2013)

Most organizations live and die by quota. Quotas are derived from financial projections which are created and necessary for companies to operate. We rely on quotas as a method for measuring sales rep performance. They need to have a number to shoot for and we need to know whether they are performing as expected. In many ways, it’s easy to understand why we focus so intently on quota. It’s how we measure the health of our organizations.

However, by relying on quota attainment to tell you whether you’re generating enough revenue, you’re doing what magician’s refer to as “following the other hand.” In essence, magicians know if they can direct your attention to one hand, they can use the other hand to conceal the quarter.  The more elaborate “magical” tricks make use of smoke and mirrors not unlike how some people construct forecasts. The real magic to driving radical revenue growth resides in understanding sales productivity and how our reps spend their limited sales capacity.  You lose sight of that when you focus on “hitting the numbers. Click the title to read the entire post.

The Importance of Social Proof in building a movement

Social Proof is key if you want to build a movement around your products. No one wants to be the first. In fact, we rarely want to be the 2nd or even 3rd person to stick our neck out. There is indeed, comfort in numbers. We stick together and travel in herds because it’s dangerous (or embarrassing) to go it alone.

Your prospects can’t be sure whether they’re the only sap that’s accepted your phone call, or signed up for a trial. You need to provide the Social Proof that puts them at ease as evidenced by the BONO selfies at Dreamforce. (For a really interesting take on how to start a movement, watch this 5 minute TedTalk by Derek Sivers). Click the title to read the entire post.

The Stanford Study that just Might Help You Sell More

Salespeople know they won’t close a deal if they can’t make the connection between their solutions and a high-value outcome. Yet executive buyers believe only 8% of salespeople are focused on driving a “valuable” end result for the buyer. That buyers feel their needs are being ignored by salespeople surely can’t be for lack of trying. Something is clearly going wrong in the process of communicating value. Why the disconnect? What’s happening during sales conversations and why deals fail to close, may both have something to do with the curse of knowledge.

The curse of knowledge was aptly demonstrated back in 1990 by Elizabeth Newton. Ms. Newton was a Stanford University graduate student in psychology at that time when she conducted a study based on a simple game. Click the title to read the entire post.

Is Your Sales Process full of #*@&(!?

Earlier in the year I wrote a blog post entitled: Sales Waste and the Production Line Theory of Revenue Growth and was reminded of the concept of Muda, a Japanese word meaning “futility; uselessness; idleness; superfluity; waste; wastage; wastefulness.”

The main concept is that every action, step or process can be categorized as either value-added activity or as waste (Muda: the title refers to). There are 7 most common categories of Muda. I thought it would be interesting to map them onto sales tasks in an attempt to identify where we can look for productivity gains. The blog contains the traditional definitions of each of the 7 Muda categories along with sales specific examples of each type. Click the title to read the entire post.

Marketing  Content Doesn’t go far Enough to Drive Sales

Content was anointed King the minute buyers started using the Internet to search for products and services. Marketers prove their allegiance to the new ruler because of its power as a market-awareness and lead generation tool. No doubt, we use content to acquire, grow, and maintain the prospect’s attention for the purpose of populating and perpetuating the pipeline.

Content-marketing is lead development. It is not selling however. You need salespeople to sell. And salespeople need their own content designed to support their selling process. They need content they can use to communicate with prospects through email. They need content appropriate for use on social networking platforms like LinkedIn. They need content for sales call follow-up and for leaving voice-mail messages. They need customized presentations in various formats. And, they need content that makes their proposals stand out from the competitions’.

Content-marketing doesn’t go far enough into the sales process. There needs to be a well-orchestrated symphony of content for both Marketing and Sales organizations. Click the title to read the entire post.

Don’t Spook Your Prospects: 5 Sure-fire Ways to Keep Your Prospects From Fleeing in Fear

We live in a scary time. Decision-makers are under pressure and short on patience. In a word, they’re easily spooked. They look for reasons to run away—or to avoid salespeople in the first place. Put these five tips into practice and assure your prospects they’ve got nothing to fear.

First tip: Listen and hear
Listening is not the act of waiting for mental cues that you can build your sales message around. Listening is an act of learning. What’s earned salespeople a bad name is that they listen with their head and not their heart. If you truly hear what your prospect is saying, you’ll respond with sincere interest, honest questions, and an honorable intent. And those are three qualities that will differentiate you from your competitors. Click the title to read the entire post.

What Every Sales Leader Needs to Know and Do to Turn CRM into a Strategic Advantage

Implementing CRM across your sales organization is a big and exciting deal. After what was likely a long needs-analysis and a long period of researching the various CRM options, you have—or had—high expectations. What were they? Were you expecting to have a great deal more insight into your sales pipeline? Were you expecting to gain a better way to judge the forecast? Were you hoping to instill more accountability across the sales organization? Were your expectations met?

When early experience is disappointing, it’s tempting to accept lackluster outcomes as the norm. Do not let that happen. CRM can and should be a strategic advantage for your organization. Don’t accept anything less. Read the post to learn the 5 Signs that your CRM is failing to support key business issues and what to do if it doesn’t deliver record breaking revenue. Click the title to read the entire post.

We’ll be off until the new year. We hope this year has brought you much success and happiness and wish you a wonderful holiday season.

Nancy Nardin & the Smart Selling Tools Team