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.
Hello, do you search for a PaaS that can make sure your multi-dimensional marketing strategy optimised in the cloud?
Are you still here? Wow, I am impressed. I would have switched off if I were you (don’t, I stop the jargon now!). And yet, this is what more often than not we find in both marketing literature and social/LI profiles. Technical jargons used for the purpose of (let’s not kid ourselves) selling either ourselves or the organisation we work for (even if we are not working in sales, more on this further down). Yet, as I’ve already mentioned (ad nauseam I would even say) the main reason people buy is to address problems they have. That’s what matters to them. At the risk of making you yawn, dear reader, we also know that it’s all about being social nowadays. And about creating engaging content. Right. It’s all well known isn’t? So we are all producing engaging content in our social profile that presents the problems addressed? Well, sadly, not quite so. Hence missing a good opportunity to get engaging (or less disengaging) profile content out there. I often come across very, very complex profiles on Linkedin that are presenting in length the technology at the heart of the service of their organisation. Here is a random example (click on picture for more details):
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!
It was Monday morning. I had a rather busy weekend, ferrying kids around to all their activities (music, football, squash), managed the rugby tournament of the age section I coach and many other weekend errands. And I was suffering from Monday morning blues. I was taking a new tech company to market so a substantial portion of my time was invested in prospecting. Looking through the list of prospects I engaged with in the past few months, I was annoyed to realise there was a lot of companies we dealt with but didn’t keep in touch with. There wasn’t a marketing automation in place (yet). And as timing is key in sales, I wished I’d knew which ones had engaged with my content since our last conversation so to know which one I could go back to. For a lot of these companies, what we did made sense but it wasn’t part of their priority when we first talked. As always, timing was part of the essence…
Picture this. You’re heading to your next meeting. You’ve been back to back in the morning and realised you haven’t done your research for this coming meeting. So you realise with dread that you know near to nothing about the prospects you are just about to meet. The meeting has been arranged 3 weeks ago and, whilst you had done some research back then, it’s all gone by now. Of course it all starts with a conversation but, from experience, you know there is a direct correlation between a productive meeting and how well you have prepared it. Oh, oh…
“Would you mind doing this psycho-metric test for me please?”
I was at the start of taking the sales training I signed up for. When asked to fill in a questionnaire with loads of questions such as “when this happens, what is your reaction: x, y or z”, my immediate reaction was:
“Complete, utter non-sense” (actually, it was a stronger reaction, self-censored it).
I had been struggling with sales. I was developing a business and I realised that sales was not about doing nice presentations and about relationships. I needed to find a better way. I had decided to do something about it and to invest time and effort in proper some sales training. And part of the requirement was to fill this questionnaire.
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.
I have to confess something. And it isn’t pretty, giving the focus of this blog but here goes: if 10 years ago one would have told me my career would eventually be focused on one thing, sales, I would have been taking him / her for a complete, utter fool. And I would have walked away, feeling rather insulted.
I vividly remember back then, being a product manager in a large organisation, managing the development of product based on new technologies in the mobile space. And I was considering sales to be the easy part of it all. And managing the product development effort the important part. Simply put, I was looking down on sales people. Period. Little did I know….
Process, process, process… And people, people, people. Is this really what sales is all about? Isn’t there something for the geek amongst us? Well, yes, there is. There are some toys, some sales toys (I know, sorry…). Actually, there are loads and loads of toys! No shortage of new applications targeted at helping sales people. From CRM, big data (yes, in sales too) to predictive analytics and tracking tools, the list is endless. Here is one company that recently caught my attention: SalesPredict. I’ll try to present more companies but I start with this one not only because the technology behind their service is rather cool and similar to technologies I have been selling in the past but also because it helps people in sales. So, it combines two keen interests of mine: data science and sales.