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 and abandoning unhealthy ones. It seems like the perfect time to take a similar view of your enterprise sales team. The good news is, just one simple change could improve your sales performance 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. These small changes have a profound effect. So what are the keystone habits for your sales team? Perhaps you think better prospecting is the key. Are you convinced sellers need to be better storytellers? Should salespeople use social media more effectively, challenge customers, and provide better insights?
It is true that improvements in these areas help your salespeople produce better results. However, none of these are likely the Keystone Habit for your salespeople. A Keystone Habit probably isn’t something that requires much training. Conversely, it requires tremendous discipline and a structured approach to change management. Keystone Habits for modern salespeople are simple. To have the farthest-reaching impact, sellers must change what they do with the information they gather about their opportunities and accounts.
Natural Tendencies of Most SalesPeople
Think about this for a moment. What is the natural tendency for most salespeople after leaving a customer meeting? Most file away the information they gain either in a folder or their minds. Here is what sellers don’t do. They don’t share the information. Unless it is exceptionally good news, salespeople don’t run back and debrief with their manager. Sellers don’t call their colleagues to compare what they uncovered. They don’t circulate reports to other team members who might be able to assist with the opportunity. And they most certainly don’t enter what they have gathered into a CRM. This is despite the fact that doing so helps them see what they have missed. In addition, CRMs help sellers objectively evaluate opportunities, develop better strategies, and develop their skills.
Because salespeople 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 limited 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 salesperson leaves the business, putting your future revenue at risk.
A Small but Difficult Change
What if your staff records key information about opportunities and accounts right in your CRM? Is it possible to know the evaluators for every opportunity in your pipeline? Are you aware of alternatives your prospects consider and what criteria they use 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? How much better would the coaching be? Would forecasting be more accurate? Could we serve customers better? 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 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. You must rehash 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 critical information about their 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, but they would also spend less time working opportunities that they cannot and will not win. Moreover, managers become 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).