It’s that time again!
From eating better, to getting more exercise to spending more time with loved ones, people everywhere begin the new year with the intent of creating new healthy habits or abandoning old unhealthy ones.
Seems like the perfect time to take a similar view of your enterprise sales team, and the good news is that just one simple change in 2015 could change everything about your sales performance now and for many years to come.
Keystone Habit for Sales
In his book, ‘The Power of Habit’, Charles Duhigg describes the power and importance of Keystone Habits. According to Mr. Duhigg, Keystone Habits are small changes people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives. In other words, small changes that have a profound effect. So what are the keystone habits for your sales team? Perhaps you think better prospecting is the key. Or possibly you have become convinced that they need to be better storytellers, use social media more effectively, challenge customers more, or provide better insights.
While it may be true that improving in these areas would help your sales people produce better results, none of these are likely the Keystone Habit for your sales people. In fact, the Keystone Habit probably isn’t something that requires training as much as it requires a structured approach to change management and tremendous discipline. The Keystone Habit for sales people in 2015, the fundamental change that will have the farthest-reaching impact, the habit that will enable all other habits, is changing what sellers do with information they gather about their opportunities and accounts!
Think about this for a moment. What is the natural tendency for most sales people after leaving a customer meeting? What do they do with the information they gathered? For most, they file it away, sometimes in the recesses of their minds and sometimes in a folder inside a cabinet, but almost always they store it. Here is what they don’t do: they don’t share it. Unless it is exceptionally good news, they don’t run back and debrief with their manager and colleagues to compare what they uncovered to their target information objectives. They don’t produce a report that is circulated to any other team member who might be able to assist with the account or opportunity. And they most certainly don’t enter what they have gathered into any system or tool that can help them see what they have missed, objectively evaluate the opportunity, develop a better strategy, or identify opportunities to develop their skills.
Because sales people don’t have the habit of putting information into a tool, most tools can do little to help them become more effective. In addition, since there is little in the way of an objective view of a customer contact unless it is actually observed by a sales manager, real meaningful coaching conversations that are essential to driving the adoption of any new skills are limited in frequency and scope. As a result, most training programs have little lasting impact. Finally, and perhaps most critically, if you run an enterprise sales team with any turnover, critical information about your prospects and customers walks out the door every time a sales person leaves the business, putting your future revenue at risk.
A Small but Difficult Change
What if your people were in the habit of recording key information about opportunities and accounts right in your CRM? What if you knew who the evaluators were for every opportunity in your pipeline? What if you knew the other alternatives your prospects were considering and what criteria they would be using to determine which alternative to choose? What if you knew what their most pressing business issues are? Moreover, what if you knew which sellers on your team did and did not have this information for which specific opportunities? How much better would the coaching be, how much more accurate would forecasting be, how much better could we serve customers, if we only knew what we did, and did not know. You see, it isn’t what we don’t know that dooms us – it’s what we don’t know that we don’t know. And in sales, this is our most fundamental problem – we don’t share what we do and don’t know about our opportunities and accounts in any scalable, efficient manner.
Imagine for a moment you work in a hospital with hundreds of patients and dozens of doctors and nurses. Your hospital is like most in terms of the care it provides and the processes it follows with one minor exception. In your hospital, there are no patient charts. If a nurse or doctor wants to know something about the patient, she can either ask the patient or ask the last person who treated the patient. Can you imagine the frustration?! Every analysis requires a new level of exploration and rehashing things that have already been covered multiple times. That is precisely what it is like to be a sales manager talking with a seller about a key account or opportunity. Despite the fact that enterprise sales teams spend millions on their CRM systems, most have little if any of the critical information about their key accounts and working opportunities.
2015 Resolution: Information Equals Opportunity
Now imagine how much more effective your team could be if they consistently gathered and efficiently shared information such as:
- Evaluators for each opportunity
- Other alternatives being considered and any that are favored
- Business issues affecting the prospect/customer
- Criteria for making a buying decision
- Decisions stages
Not only would they win at a higher rate, they would spend less time working opportunities that they cannot and will not win. Moreover, managers could have dramatically more effective and efficient coaching conversations because they would no longer need to spend so much time pulling information from sellers and could focus their energy on real gaps in the seller’s ability to elicit and leverage important information. In fact, our analysis shows that by leveraging the CRM to store and analyze this type of information, managers can save as much as 45 minutes per opportunity review and be more effective! Finally, when key information is entered into a system leveraging predictive technology, the system itself can help the seller gain a more objective view of the opportunity and thereby forecast more accurately, develop better strategies, and even improve their skill and knowledge.
With so much potential upside, isn’t it time you resolve to leverage your CRM more fully and make it the tool it was meant to be – a tool that helps your team learn, coach and sell with greater effectiveness and efficiency than ever before.
Want to learn more about how to make this happen with your enterprise sales team? If you have 500 people or more and use salesforce.com as your CRM platform, AXIOM would like to help.
For more than twenty years, AXIOM has been elevating the sales profession by transforming the way enterprise sales organizations engage with customers and sales managers lead and coach. AXIOM clients enjoy unique solutions that combine sales training, sales process, and methodology supported through integrated software solutions built on the Salesforce Platform. AXIOM provides implementation and consulting services that deliver exceptional results including improved customer satisfaction, increased revenue and margins, and lower customer and sales team churn. For more information on how AXIOM Sales Force Development can help you build a world-class sales organization, visit http://www.axiomsfd.com or call toll free 800.933.8503 (outside US call +1.972.497.2450).