Monday, 12 October 2015

What Dreamforce 2015 taught me about Sales Productivity: Part 1

It’s been a while that Dreamforce 2015 concluded but the delirium lives on! There’s still so much buzz around the different products and services Salesforce introduced over the 4-day event. However, a CRM no matter how extensive and useful comes into play only when you have a great customer base and an extremely healthy pipeline. Add to that the fact that Salesforce recently posted revenues upwards of USD 5 billion, the first time they touched that number! Therefore, I was hoping that Dreamforce 2015 would cover sessions and trainings around Sales Productivity, as who better to teach you about Sales productivity than the elite member of the 5 billion club? Much to my pleasure, Dreamforce covered Sales Productivity at length and I learnt a great deal of new things!

Social is the new selling wand!

Here’s where you would expect me to write something like ‘Move over traditional sales, social selling is the way to go!’ Well, that ain’t happening! Fact is, social selling has always been there, much before you and I, much before cloud computing, Facebook, internet, anything that you can think of! Confused? Haven’t you always purchased groceries from the pleasant guy next block? Did you purchase your first bike from the guy recommended by your friend? Isn’t your dentist the one your colleague recommended you? These are all examples of social selling! You ask your peers and friends for recommendations, and don’t shy away from dishing feedback.

Same applies for selling anything using Social Media. The opportunities are simply enormous! Thanks to the networked markets, people know more about your products and services than some of your own folks. Use it to your advantage. Reach out to people over Twitter and LinkedIn, engage them in a conversation and help them know how you can solve their problems. Gain real time insight into what your customers are discussing online. You’ll be able to understand their needs (both individually and more broadly across the market). Build relationships and trust, and you’ll be able to engage them with useful, timely information to help.

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Investment in Sales Enablement pays big time!

Your people are your assets! By that definition, your sales people are your most valuable assets. Therefore it is logical to invest in their enablement, helping them adapt to the ever-changing world of sales. Educate your sales teams to deliver the right message at the right time to prospects. When sales people are on message, they convert leads and close opportunities faster.

Invest time and money on their skill growth, so that they are aligned to the customers’ needs rather than focused on Why Choose Us. Encourage open communication and easy integration between team members and integrate this Sales Enablement process across the organization, ensuring a team approach towards right sale to the right client. Remember, successful Sales Enablement is 10% tactical and strategic contribution and 90% alignment towards a common agenda.

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Accurate Forecasts is a must

I cannot possibly stress enough on the significance of Accurate Forecasting. However, a lot of sales people lay great stress on the accuracy of a forecast, often without realizing or finding where they are wrong. The trick is to break the forecasts into a series of assumptions that can be referred to later. But if you have ever been a Sales guy, you know this is easier said than done. So how do you make accurate forecasts?

The foremost thing to do is to enable your Sales reps with technology. Let technology do the numbers for them, find insights that they can use to engage prospects in meaningful conversations and guide them through the lifecycle. Use a software or an application that comes with an audit trail, so that you can note any changes to the deal value, customer or probability of cracking the deal and take necessary actions. Bottom line, let your sales people do sales and leave the data and accounting to your technology.

Accurate Forecasting is an art mastered with practice, one that needs your people trained to yield the desired results. Train them to identify the signs that help them identify a good deal from a bad one, enable them to focus on pipeline exceptions and analyze the cause behind them to take corrective action wherever required, and teach them how to constantly refine their forecasts.

With great power comes great responsibility and it is no different for your sales people. Let them know what is expected of them, give them complete autonomy but also make them accountable. Set aside time to review the forecasts, discuss action items for any exceptions and plan the way ahead. Reviewing the numbers together gives multiple views around the same potential problem, enabling the team to find a solution that is most suitable.

It is important to understand and acknowledge that Sales productivity is actually a series of keys that unlock the big prize that Sales productivity is. In my next blog, I will talk about how setting the right goals, sales coaching, a healthy pipeline and prioritizing go a long way towards enhancing the Sales productivity. Till then, happy selling!

What Dreamforce 2015 taught me about Sales Productivity: Part 2

Written by Nupur Singh, Pre-Sales & Marketing Expert at Eternus Solutions

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