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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Prospecting flow. How to avoid the death valley?

Prospecting, Valley of death, sales process, call flow
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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Empathy: or how to connect with people you send emails to.

Sales, empathy
Dale Carnegie. Master of cold emailing before his time?

Are you cold mailing people? Are you talking to customers on email? Are you actually writing email to your boss, wife, customers? No? Well, you can close this page, this post is not for you. If you are, read on.

Good to see you are still here. You must be using email then :). I will make it short. If you are in sales and read some of these posts, you have realised/know/experienced that all conversations should be centred on the problem of the prospect. The problem, how to address it, who is impacted by the problem, etc… should be the lynchpin of all the conversation with a prospect during the sales. It’s simply called having empathy. How many times do we receive cold email absolutely full with “I”, “we”, etc… Being pro-active and prospecting is great. But to be pro-active and to centre the conversation on the client issue, i.e. with empathy, rather than how great one company is, is even more powerful.

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Don’t always connect to people on Linkedin? Conspire then!

Conspire, Linkedin, networking
You’ve met. Do you Linkedin now that you can Conspire?

Photo credit: KayVee. INC

I won’t get into the specific of LinkedIn, no need to. But love it or hate it, if you work in sales it is a pretty powerful platform. Like many thousands of people, I use it to research people before meeting them, keeping in touch or identify leads (ever looked at who follows your competitors? Try it, you will find people interested in their product and therefore in yours….). And I am sure you do to. But do you always connect with someone on Linkedin once you meet them? Personally, I don’t.

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I am in sales ergo I prospect

Cold calling, gold calling, prospecting, prospection,
Go on, pick it up, it doesn’t bite!

Photo credit: Macinate

Prospecting. An activity which more often than not isn’t really appreciated, both by sales people and those at the other end (maybe because they have some pre-conceived idea?). Concentrating on the negative feeling sales people have, it could be because it comes along with the fear of “rejection”. Add to this the growing belief that to prospect, i.e. to contact people from cold is “dead” as content marketing and social are the ways for organisations to generate inbound leads. I keep reading “outbound is dead”. I personally believe there is a lot of value to have both inbound marketing and outbound sales effort combined together. For my sins, I do quite enjoy prospecting. Remember, it all start with a conversation so we need to set-up this conversation and prospecting is the mean to this end. We know the good old latin locution “Cogito ergo sum” – “I think therefore I am”. I think something similar can be said for sales:  “Sello ergo prospectum” (did they prospect back then? And what’s the latin for “sell”?) or in proper English “I am in sales therefore I prospect”.  So, here are five reasons why I prospecting is great and actually not that hard:

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