The End-of-Year Race

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The annual end-of-year race is about to commence right after Labor Day.  The finish line resides somewhere within the holiday season.  This period represents the closing of the revenue year and will determine success (or something short of that).

The importance of this time period is clear.  Do you have all of your tools aligned to make the final revenue push?  If we may be so bold, here are a trio of recommendations for all CROs heading into the race.

Bankable Forecast - this is the most important aspect of the race. Can you take your forecast to the bank?  If not, you need your team to perform a real-world purge of the forecast for the remainder of the year.  You must know what is closing in the time period to make the right adjustments to your game plan.

Bench Strength - your team may be facing some unexpected turnover.  The economy is roaring and salespeople are confident in finding new opportunities.  When is a popular time to make a change?  Many salespeople will make a move right before the holiday season to leverage time off with family and friends.  Others will wait until early in Q1 to cash in their variable compensation (commissions, bonuses, etc.).  Either way, you need to have a plan for building a strong bench in case turnover occurs in your team.

Results-Driven Incentive Plans - next year's compensation plans will be on your list during the race.  You have to recognize effort and reward results with a plan that drives the behaviors you need in each role.  The mix of salary, commission, bonuses, spiffs and more needs to be designed for a Jan. 1 launch date.

Clearly, there are other topics for all CROs this time of year, but these 3 tasks will cover a good portion of your 2019 foundation.  If you need help on any of these topics, we are here to help.

20 Traits of a Leader

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We worked through this topic at our recent RoundTable meetings and I thought the off-the-cuff list we compiled was fairly thorough.

Here is the list we developed:

1. Hiring skills

2. Vision

3. Integrity

4. Trustworthy

5. Confidence

6. OK with tough questions

7. Has your interests in mind

8. Cares about people

9. Delegation

10. Great Thinker

11. Good Communicator

12. Values Contribution

13. Good Team

14. Influential

15. Lead by Example

16. Strategic

17. Stable

18. Positive

19. Practices the Platinum Rule (treat others how they want to be treated)

20. Values you

DV Week Part 4-The Emotional Customer

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We close out the DV week with a final delineation of the real prospect who will value your DV.  The person who will respond to it is the Emotional Customer.  Unfortunately, most salespeople hunt down the Logical Customer and end up in a sales black hole.

Terry Slattery, an expert on DV, walked us through this important aspect of leveraging your DV while prospecting.

Let's first define the Logical Customer:

  • Easy to find but hard to close
  • Price Sensitive
  • Limited performance metrics
  • May have a vested interest in not changing
  • Often isolated from the consequences of delay or undervaluing your DV

The Logical Customer can be lurking anywhere inside of an organization, but some common locations are purchasing, IT, HR among others.  These contacts fit the above description and will work hard to "commoditize" your Differentiating Value.  If your salesperson ends up stuck in this area, you have to guide them out of that hole.

Let's focus on where your salesperson should be focusing - the Emotional Customer:

  • Has zero interest in your stuff
  • Feels the pain and consequences of not having your DV
  • Gets the bill for the pain
  • Easy to close
  • Usually can tell the Logical Customer what to do

See the difference?  The question is how do you find them?

Qualifying.

Your team has to know what their DV is, have it translated into the prospect's world and then have to ask the right questions to find the Emotional Customer.

If you need help implementing Revenue as a System, we can help.

DV Week Part 3-DV Depth and Premium Pricing

 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Let's review CRO Success Rule #5:

The breadth and depth of your Differentiating Value platform determines the amount of traction your product or service has in target market segments. It also determines the level of premium pricing you can achieve.  If you have zero Differentiating Value, it means you are selling only on price.

Did you catch that?  No DV means no premium pricing.  Actually, it means your salespeople are probably in a discounting war with far too many (all?) prospects.  You understand when we say DV is the foundation of all successful selling, this is why.

Now that your are into your DV process, it is crucial to refine and translate your DV.  You need to boil it down to its essence to make it powerful.  Think of this fact, it takes 10 GALLONS of maple sap to make 1 QUART of maple syrup.  It takes hours of boiling to reduce the sap (depending on sugar content).  You get the point - it is an arduous process that yields a valuable end product.  DV creation is analogous to the maple syrup process.

These DV questions must be addressed to make sure you get paid what you are worth:

  • What value do you bring to your customers? (Real value - no fluff)
  • How does the absence of your value show up in the prospect's world?
  • Where does it show up?
  • Who does it affect?

When your DV successfully answers these 4 questions, you are well on your way to handling these 2 sales objectives:

Bridging the communication gap with the prospect's world

Doing it in a way that will shorten the overall sales cycle

If you need help with any of these processes, we are always welcome to assist you.

DV Week Part 2-Direct Your DV Towards the Emotional Decision Maker

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We all make decisions emotionally and later justify them intellectually.  This is a fact of human nature.  We look to our emotional decision making to finalize our purchases.  Granted, few people need to access this area of their brain to buy a gallon of milk.  However, think of a significant purchase you recently made.  You decided based on how the item or service made you feel.  Later, you used the logic centers of your brain to rationalize/support why it was a good decision.  If your salespeople are aware of this distinction, they have a distinct advantage over your competition.

The emotional decision maker is the person who suffers the consequences of life without your solution.  They pay a price for not having your DV, whether it be slower times to market, higher failure rates, lower productivity, missed ship dates...it could be almost any painful outcome.

Here is the advantage for your salespeople:  Emotional decision makers are usually harder to find, easier to close, not as price sensitive, and can typically tell the technical buyer what to do.

Now that you know this, you must direct your DV messages towards the emotional decision maker.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Define what matters to the customer - There is no point in highlighting benefits a customer doesn't care about.
  • Be unique and demonstrably better - If the competition offers the same item, whatever that feature/service/product is, then that item is not your competitive advantage.
  • Be specific and measurable - If you can't be specific and/or measurable, you sound like every other competitor.  Get rid of the fluff.

If you need assistance in defining and directing your Differentiating Value, we are here to help.

DV Week Part 1-Drive Your Margins

 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

We are spending the week on the most fundamental aspect of successful selling - Differentiating Value (DV).

There is an old saying in sales, "Price is what you pay, value is what you get."   Keep this in mind when you are formulating your DV.  People revert to price because it is the easiest metric to use when comparing like solutions.  If I can't truly differentiate between them, I'll just buy the lower priced solution.  You can't blame the prospect in this instance - they made the correct decision.

But shame on the salesperson.

A buying decision should never boil down to price.  If it does, the salesperson has failed to accomplish two mission-critical tasks:

  1. Differentiate their solution from all of the others
  2. Translate that differentiation into the prospect's world

Number 1:  Prospects, especially those in procurement, will spend great energy to remove your DV.  Their goal is to get your solution entered into a spreadsheet tracking prices.  Unless you are successfully running the lowest-priced solution, you are done if you end up here.

Value = margin, just ask Apple.  They don't sell nearly as many cell phones as Samsung (315 million units for Samsung vs. ~215 million units for Apple).  Yet, most everyone has heard of Apple becoming the first $1 trillion company.  Value = margin.

The salesperson's first priority is to establish their DV.  Differentiating their solution from all the other competing solutions provides the ability to qualify for fit.  Your solution will not be a fit for every prospect.  Testing for "fit" using your DV is crucial for qualifying whether you have a viable prospect or not.

 Photo by  Frankie Guarini  on  Unsplash

Number 2:  Prospects will not translate your differentiating value into their world.  How does your DV show up in their world?  What pain does it fix?   Whose life will be easier with your solution?  What is that DV worth (beyond money to time, resources, reliability, etc.)?

DV is what you do that is unique or better than your competition.  It exists in the prospect's world.  It is not features and benefits.  It is not quality, service or support.

DV is what the prospect will lose if they decide not to do business with you.  This fact is the keystone to building your DV into the prospect's world.

You have to answer these questions to approach translating your DV to the prospect's world:

  • What value do you bring to your prospect's world?
  • What do they lose if they do business elsewhere?
  • How does your absence show up in their world (what, when, where, etc.)?
  • Who is most affected by your absence?

When you can articulate your answers to these questions, you will have defined your DV.  We have further questions and techniques to refine DV.  If you could use some assistance with your DV, please contact us today.

The Key to Finding Sales Talent in Tight Markets

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A sub-4% unemployment rate leads to a difficult sales hiring market.  So what can you do when you need to expand, or upgrade, your existing sales team?  Here is a unique approach to finding the strongest salespeople in the tightest labor markets.

Hire Talent Over Experience

I know, it sounds cliche, but it is fundamental to successful sales hiring in any market. This approach is counter-intuitive to most CROs. The stereotypical approach is to find someone from your industry and hire them away from your competition.  Bad approach.  Sure, there are strong salespeople in your industry, but you won't know, for certain, what makes them successful in their current position.  It may be the company, the culture, the support, the leads...a distinct difference that could preclude them from being successful in your company.

Talent will outperform experience.  Guaranteed.  You can teach them about your "stuff", your market and your solution.  You probably have scores of people who can train them on those previous topics in a relatively short time period.  What you can't teach them quickly is how to sell.  A certain irony exists in sales hiring in that many (most?) CROs hire salespeople without looking at their sales ability.  Industry experience becomes the preeminent criteria for hiring even before sales ability/talent.

Many CROs are unaware that you can measure sales ability.  We have assessments that will tell you about the candidates talent, skills and drive to sell in your role.  If you can withdraw from the intoxicating appeal of experience, you can broaden your talent pool.  This expansive view allows you to look into other industries to find sales talent with transferable skills.

DISC Styles Defined - Compliance

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Today we conclude our DISC series with the final style - Compliance. Here is more on the High C.

Compliance
This factor describes people that follow the rules, or comply.  C's are precise and exact in that they enjoy complex tasks and absolute answers.  C's are the least common style in the general population.  Their drive to comply leads them to be perfectionists, at times, and the "traffic cops" for any team.  They prefer to have an orderly life free of mistakes and errors.  The precise nature of the High C's work product often leads them into roles like finance, quality control and law enforcement.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Very slow buyers; proven products.
Change:  Concerned of the effects of change.
Conflict response:  Avoidance.
Drive:  Careful, follow rules. Best drivers.
Decorate an office:  Graphs, charts, functional.
Gesture:  Very reserved, little or no gestures.
Goal Setting:  Good at setting safe goals, probably in many areas. Goals are safe with little risk.
Organization:  Everything in its place. Perfectly organized.
Read:  Nonfiction, technical journals.
Risk Factor:  Very low.
Rules:  "By the book." Knows and follows rules.
Stand:  Arms folded, one hand on chin.
Stress Relief:  Alone time.
Talk on the Phone:  Little chitchat. To the point. May be short or long depending on data needed.
Talk to others:  Direct. Questioning, clarifying.
Walk:  Straight line.
Writing:  Direct, to the point, with appropriate data.
Color noticed first:  Yellow.
 

Communicating with the High C

  • Prepare your case in advance.  Don't be disorganized or messy.
  • Approach them in a straightforward, direct way.  Don't be casual, informal or personal.
  • Use a thoughtful approach. Build credibility by looking at all sides of each issue.  Don't force a quick decision.
  • Present specifics, and do what you say you can do.  Don't be vague about expectations or fail to follow through.
  • Allow them their space.  Don't touch them.
     

Managing the High C

  • Involve them in defining standards that are undefined.
  • Clearly define requirements of the job and expectations.
  • Set goals that have "reach" in them.
  • Involve them in long-term planning.
  • Train them in people skills and negotiating.
     

Potential Limitations of the High C

  • Hesitant to act without precedent.
  • Overanalyze; Analysis Paralysis.
  • Be too critical of others.
  • Get bogged down in details.
  • Be too hard on themselves.

The High C is an uncommon style that can thrive in a highly technical, detailed sale.  The C enjoys the data-driven processes of most positions - they tend to love Excel.  You can expect the High C to know the rules and eagerly apply them to people who are breaking the rules.  They are task-oriented and can struggle, at times, with personal interactions within a team setting.  Their precision provides them with a breadth of knowledge about the solution they are selling.  Expect them to be accurate to a fault and driven to close the perfect sale.

Source: Target Training International

DISC Styles Defined - Steadiness

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Today we continue with our DISC series and the third style - Steadiness. Here is more on the High S.

Steadiness
This factor describes people that crave consistency, repetition and few surprises.  S's are drawn to routine and predictability which gives them the innate ability to excel at consistency.  High S's are loyal workers who bring a peacemaking ability to any team.  Their desire to find closure drives them to finish what they started.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Slow decision maker; traditional products.
Change:  Does not like change. Needs much preparation.
Conflict response:  Tolerate, put up with it.
Drive:  Relaxed pace, no hurry.
Decorate an office:  Family snapshots, "homey" atmosphere.
Gesture:  Will gesture with hands, not large sweeping gestures.
Goal Setting:  Goals are short-term, low risk. May use daily to-do lists.
Organization:  Usually some type of system. A little on the sloppy side.
Read:  People stories, fiction and nonfiction.
Risk Factor:  Moderately low risk-taker.
Rules:  Will usually follow time-tested, proven rules.
Stand:  Leaning back, hand in pocket.
Stress Relief:  Rest time/sleep. Hot baths.
Talk on the Phone:  Warm conversationalist, friendly and concerned.
Talk to others:  Warm, not pushy. Will listen before talking.
Walk:  Steady, easy pace.
Writing:  Long form giving lots of information.
Color noticed first:  Blue.
 

Communicating with the High S

  • Start with personal comments. Break the ice.  Don't rush headlong into business or agenda.
  • Show sincere interest in them as people.  Don't stick coldly or harshly to business.
  • Patiently draw out their personal goals and ideas. Listen and be responsive.  Don't force a quick response to your objectives.
  • Move casually, informally.  Don't be abrupt and rapid.
  • Provide personal assurances and guarantees.  Don't promise something you can't deliver.
     

Managing the High S

  • Clearly explain upcoming changes in order to prepare them.
  • Make an effort to get to know them and their needs.
  • Assign them fewer, larger projects.
  • Encourage their contribution in meetings.
  • Work to stretch them carefully to new heights.
     

Potential Limitations of the High S

  • Take criticism of work as personal affront.
  • Resist change just for change sake.
  • Need help getting started on new assignment.
  • Have difficulty establishing priorities.
  • Not project a sense of urgency.

The High S is a strong selling style for extended, relationship sales.  The S has a natural ability to hang in there even during long periods of time.  They are people-oriented like the High I, but they are quieter in dealing with others.  High S's are introverted and enjoy predictable days and established routines.  Leading the High S requires a boss who can see the strengths they bring to the team, and the realization that there are times when you will have to put the spurs to them.

Source: Target Training International

DISC Styles Defined - Influence

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Today we continue with our DISC series and the second style - Influencing. Here is more on the High I.

Influencing
This factor describes people that prefer to influence others with their words.  High I's enjoy the opportunity to talk to new people, experience new things...anything new.  I's tend to trust other people implicitly and have a naturally optimistic approach to most things.

Observable Behavior
Buy:  Quick decision makers; showy  products; impulse buyer.
Change:  May not notice change.
Conflict response:  Flight, run.
Drive:  Visual, looking around, radio on.
Decorate an office:  Contemporary, memorabilia of experiences.
Gesture:  A lot of big gestures and facial expressions when talking.
Goal Setting:  Not good at setting goals. Intention is present, planning is not.
Organization:  Disorganized. A lot of piles.
Read:  Fiction, self-improvement books.
Risk Factor:  Moderate risk-taker.
Rules:  May not be aware of rules and break them unintentionally.
Stand:  Feet spread. Two hands in pockets.
Stress Relief:  Interaction with people.
Talk on the Phone:  Long conversations. A great deal of tone variation in voice.
Talk to others:  Verbal, at length. Personal with others.
Walk:  Weave, people focus, may run into things.
Writing:  More wordy, warm people focus.
Color noticed first:  Red.
 

Communicating with the High I

  • Plan interaction that supports their dreams and intentions.  Don't legislate or muffle.
  • Allow time for relating and socializing.  Don't curt, cold or tight-lipped.
  • Talk about people and their goals.  Don't drive to facts, figures and alternatives.
  • Focus on people and action items. Put details in writing.  Don't leave decisions up in the air.
  • Ask for their opinion.  Don't be impersonal or task-oriented.
     

Managing the High I

  • Assist in setting realistic goals.
  • Work with on-time management.
  • Develop a friendship and make time for interaction daily.
  • Open door policy for High I to discuss any issues.
  • Look for opportunities for them to utilize their verbal skills.
     

Potential Limitations of the High I

  • Oversell.
  • Act impulsively, heart over mind.
  • Trust people indiscriminately.
  • Be inattentive to detail.
  • Tend to listen only situationally.

The High I is a somewhat common style in sales.  This style is the most appreciative of people interactions so sales is a natural draw.  They are chatty, personal, outgoing and always eager for a new experience.  The High I does require a patient leader as the High I will be in your office frequently to discuss their most recent discovery/success/question.  Be patient and know that the High I will cover a lot of ground and talk to more people than any other style.

Source: Target Training International