Five practical steps to take to run POCs / trials efficiently

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But do you want a trial that last 1000 days?

Photo credit: Steve Rhodes

“But Michael, you are using a competitor product. And they are a good company. So, whilst it is great you would want to do a POC with us, I am not clear on what specific issues you want to address and, assuming we can address them, what would happen afterwards. Could you help me with this?”

Michael could not help me with this. Michael was a partner for one of the major consulting firm in the world and was keen to do a POC to test the product of my start-up. Amongst other things, this would have meant to divert some of my technical resources to support said POC. So, whilst starting a process with a major brand was attractive for an early stage start-up I thought it was better not to pursue and decided to close the process here.

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The parallels between selling and a dealing with a recruiter

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It is a good looking CV. But has there been lot of questions asked before sending it?

Photo credit: Rebeca_CE

“You can find my CV attached for your consideration.”

I had just introduced a friend of mine to a recruiter as I thought the opportunity this recruiter sent me might of interest to him. Following the email intro, my friend responded and, right away, sent his CV through. I was taken aback. Why did he not ask questions before sending his CV?

I might be obsessed with asking as many questions as possible when interacting with people in a business context. But, seeing my friend sending his CV right after the introduction, I could not help to see the parallel between a recruitment process and a sales process, at least from a candidate point of view.

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How to get a good sales stack in place

sales process; decision; driving decision
Sales technologies. Just like bales. They need to be stacked, not lying scattered

Photo credit: Kristofor McGreevy

I’ve just been through a hectic period, implementing sales processes and developing value proposition for technology companies. And admittedly I’ve had very little time writing… I am still fascinated to see how many technologies go to market with a value proposition that is focused on their technology and product rather than the problems they address. But marketing value proposition isn’t the focus of this blog.  I’ll focus on something known as sales stack. “Sales what?” do I hear you say. Good question. Let me take one step back.

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When talking about your product to prospects can put you in trouble…

Sales, question, questioning, process, spilling the beans
When you sale, do you spill the beans? Or do you ask question?

Photo credit: Phil

Greeks invented the democracy. And they had an interesting way of voting. They used beans. A white bean was a vote in favour of a motion, a black bean was a vote against. The vote had to be unanimous for the motion to go through. So should the jar with the bean topples and the beans fall down, revealing a black bean, it meant something had been revealed too early and the vote had to restart. Hence the expression spilling the beans…

Well, nearly…

This expression might not be entirely due to the Greek way of voting (it isn’t). But spilling the beans certainly applies to how we sale. And how we, sales people, love to share product knowledge when we should hold back.

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Weekly round up: posts on sales process, pricing and training

Sales post; sales blog; sales blogs;
Some interesting reads on process, pricing and training

Photo credit: nicoleneu1

Here is a brief round of interesting posts I have read, found particularly good and thought they were worth sharing.

First of all, a post from David Brock about the companies that believe they have a sales process but, actually, simply don’t. What I like beyond David rather dry sense of humour (notably on things like “gurus” in Linkedin), is the probing of companies that believe they have a process when, actually, it is not being followed or need some updating. The post is here.

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How to identify the real problems people have, not just those expressed.

problems, expressed problems, real problem, solution sale, questions, sales questions
That’s a problem we’ve all had. But what was the real impact?

Photo credit: Andreas Overland

It was Friday afternoon. It was sunny. And I was just walking out of a meeting with a prospect with a big smile on my face. The prospect I just met had shared with me all her problems. It was all there in my notes. It was covering all these important business problems. She didn’t have the analytics on her marketing effort. Her company was selling online but she wasn’t clear what was the products that had the best ratio between visits and actual transactions. And many other very specific marketing analytics problems. And I knew how to solve all these issues with a great piece of tech I was selling. That weekend was to be a good one as I felt I was on my way to secure the deal.

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Prospecting flow. How to avoid the death valley?

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You do not have to walk through the valley of death when prospecting or following up.

Photo credit: Pacheco

Have you seen this slide that is regularly doing the rounds on LinkedIn presenting the amount of time a sales person needs to follow-up with a prospect to get a deal and how many sales people stops too quickly.

You can’t have missed it. It comes back over and over again and is coming from the so-called  “National Sales Executive Association”? Well, if you didn’t know already: it is a fake. The NSEA simply doesn’t exist. But this slide seems to make the point there is value in chasing to secure a sale. Is there some sort of ground beyond this fact? Are sales people who do chase, don’t hear back, carry on crossing what I call “the valley of death” courageously (it’s very silent in the valley of death….), are they the most efficient sales people? Or is it a myth. I think it is a myth. So, here is the prospecting flow I follow to make sure a lead or a prospect is a real one or one worth qualifying out:

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How to achieve predictable revenues – Video

Process, lead generation, sales, predictable revenues
That’s an easy process. For lead generation, what is yours?

Photo credit: Dave Gray

I am sometimes asked for some good books to read about sales. If the specific issue at hand is about prospecting, one which is worth knowing about is called “Predictable revenues” by Aaron Ross. It presents the lead generation process that has been implemented within SalesForce around 2004 and helped the company grow to $100,000Mn+. Prospecting is key for young businesses, especially as they can not rely on growing revenues from existing clients or referrals. Or for companies entering a new market. And as many other parts of a company operation, to have a process for prospecting is important (#understatement). The process described by Aaron would however not work for all companies and of course need to be adapted to the company it’s implemented at (companies are living creatures, none of them are identical). A couple of requirements the author details are that the methodology makes economic sense for companies who product and services have a ARR c. $10,000 and for those that have a proven product (i.e. not for those in a product market fit phase). So if you’ve passed that phase and consider scaling, I came across a presentation made by Alan O’Rourke that has been filmed and is a good introduction to the book. Alan is using this approach for Workcompass, a performance management software and author of 30 days to sell. A title that says it all!

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5 tips to get better at cold email

Cold emailing, cold mail, prospecting, cold call
Is this illusionist just about to send a cold mail?

I am a fan of Derren Brown. For those not living in the UK, he is a rather good illusionist with a big show on BBC. One of the trick he has is to ask people on stage to think of a piece of music and, when they share it, reveal that it is the same piece he wrote on a paper. A rather baffling trick. And he shared the way he prepares for it . Essentially, he has his crew following this person throughout the day prior to the show and make sure she is exposed to a piece of music of his choosing numerous times. This includes a band busking in the street outside her house, music piped in the restaurant she is eating for lunch, etc, etc… Once on stage, her subconscious has been sufficiently exposed to Derren Brown’s choosen piece and he get his result.

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