Have you ever tried to help someone with directions who has a hard time speaking your own language? Or maybe you’ve been in a situation where you’ve tried to explain a concept to someone and they just aren’t getting it no matter how hard you try to explain it in different ways. It’s frustrating, right? Well, the same thing can happen when it comes to HubSpot implementation.
Over the holiday break, Mike Weinberg, author of New Sales. Simplified., Sales Management. Simplified., and Sales Truth, shared 20 tips for salespeople to crush 2020. (You should read his tips whether you’re in sales or not.)
Mike was his usual: blunt, humorous and completely on-point. His third tip that there are only three verbs in sales (create, advance and close) is more valuable than most sales training programs I’ve ever attended. (I’d expand this tip to demand generation and marketing as well.)
I was so inspired by Mike’s post that I found myself thinking about what 20 tips I would share, and this blog post is the result of Mike’s inspiration. (Thanks, Mike!)
1. Spend 20 - 50% of your time on early-stage market development (yes, prospecting)
When I present to sales teams, I often start off by talking about what I like to call “the sales and marketing treadmill.” The sales teams immediately nod their heads, understanding that dreadful feeling where you need to run faster and faster, just to stay in place.
One of the things I’ve always noticed about the best salespeople (and I mean those who are consistently at the top) is that they never look rushed. They regularly operate in a state of flow, seemingly never worrying about this week, this month or even this quarter.
I used to wonder how they could always be so calm and relaxed; after all, I was busting my ass. What I realized was that they spent far more time than the typical rep on the early parts of the buyer’s journey. The “pre-funnel” is always stronger than their active funnel.
The single best thing you can do, as a salesperson or sales organization, is to spend at least 20% of your time on early stage, market development/prospecting. You’ll find that as you move towards 50%, the effort (and urgency) required to close sales decreases, and you’ll soon become one of those top salespeople I referred to.
Quiz Time! Here are two outcomes:
- An opportunity in the sales pipeline was at an 80% probability that it would be won, and it was lost.
- Another opportunity in the sales pipeline (all other aspects including the value, the customer type, the timing, etc., are the same) was only at a 20% probability of winning and was won.
Which outcome is worse?
Most of the people I ask this question to quickly look at me with a quizzical frown and ask, “Is this a trick question?” I respond, “No, no tricks.” They then confidently say the first situation is worse. I understand why they give that answer, and I’d certainly have to agree that when it comes to revenue, profit, commissions and things like that, the first is definitely worse.
The reality is that both are equally bad because both forecasts were equally wrong. If you’re looking to scale growth sustainably, you must have the ability to create a meaningful degree of predictability for that growth; to do that well, your organization’s ability to forecast must be an area of strength.
In addition to the obvious reason that strong forecasting, in and of itself, creates a level of predictability, an individual sales rep’s ability to forecast individual opportunities makes them far more effective at utilizing their time and enhances their effectiveness.
I often compare selling to playing poker. In both situations, you’re forced to utilize imperfect information to make bets (forecasts) about future outcomes within dynamic situations, and you must put your money where your forecast is. In poker, that means staying in the game and putting more money at risk. In sales, it means investing more time and resources.
While we could literally write a book on how to forecast effectively, improving your forecasting ability and improving your tactical sales decision-making doesn’t have to be complex or hard. Implement two simple ideas, regardless of the level of your forecasting proficiency, and you’ll be sure to succeed.
Last week, I was talking with a colleague and he was telling me about yet another bungled CRM implementation a client of his was dealing with. I have to admit I laughed a bit as he shared the story.
I’ve been using CRM in one form or another since the early 1990s (ACT! for DOS for those who are wondering). I started using Salesforce.com in the early 2000s. I’ve personally used more than a dozen CRMs in my time, and that number easily goes above 20 if you count the companies that I’ve advised.
I’ve been on the front-line of Salesforce automation for far, far longer than I care to think about, and the one thing that has remained constant has been the results:
- 20-30% are outright, complete failures. More IT heads have probably lost jobs because of CRM implementation failures than anything else.
- 50% stumble along, creating more confusion and friction than existed before a change was made. The investments made to increase productivity and acceleration, do the opposite, but they don’t quite “fail”.
- 10-20% provide a moderate level of success. They don’t meet the expectations, but they do provide greater capabilities and incremental improvement.
- 10% are truly successful.
A couple of years ago, CEB found that the average company was spending nearly $5,000/rep/year more on technology, and conversion rates have dropped by 12%. When I saw the study, I was actually surprised the numbers weren’t worse.
I had the entire client services team together this week for two days. (Check out the awesome picture of the rain delay/postponement we all enjoyed Tuesday night.)
As we worked through the agenda for our get-together I posed a question to each person on the team. Here’s what I asked, “The CEO of one of our clients calls you up directly and asks you, ‘How are we doing with content?’ How do you answer their question?”
We then proceeded to have a conversation that I’m certain is remarkably similar to conversations that take place weekly at growth advisories and agencies like Imagine and within marketing and demand generation teams at most companies. Each person answered the question with a noticeable connection to their area of expertise. There were a lot of “it depends” and a variety of data points like traffic, growth, conversion, bounce rates, time on page, and more.
Like I said, the same conversation that takes place everywhere. The same conversation that has led to the exponential increase in content that has caused a precipitous increase in lead and customer acquisition costs, with little to no impact on outcomes. Many advisors argue, with some legitimacy, that content marketing in general and inbound marketing specifically is no longer worth the cost and effort.
I was not satisfied with these answers. They give no one insight and they end up creating a lot of noise. I’m a big fan of finding the signal and I believe that if you measure something, you best be able to identify that signal and create some scoring mechanism to guide you to where you want to go. So we proceeded with the conversation.
If you know me at all, you know that I’m a very competitive person (some have said too competitive, and I can’t really argue with them). I love to win and I hate to lose.
One of the great lessons I’ve learned about myself, and found applies to the vast majority of people (even those not as competitive as me), is how important clarity is if you want people to be engaged and motivated. A BIG part of clarity is the ease with which an individual knows whether they’re winning or losing the “game” they’re playing. I’ve often said that a key to someone being happy and engaged in their work is the ability to go home each day knowing whether they won or lost the day, and whether they’re winning the week, the month, the year and so on.
A scoreboard is a necessary element to creating such clarity. If you doubt the importance of “knowing the score,” just watch how the intensity changes when a bunch of kids are playing a game and start keeping score.
A strong scoreboard has five required components to be truly effective:
I regularly write about a variety of growth-focused strategies, systems, and skills. Yet, while these areas are certainly important, the biggest determinant of success is an organization’s ability to execute. Give me average strategies, systems, and skills with dogged execution and I’ll beat anyone with average execution.
Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on the HubSpot Sales Blog
In 1997, Billy Beane became the General Manager of the Oakland A’s. The A’s had the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball and in the four full seasons before Beane became GM, the A’s averaged less than 70 wins a season. Beane knew if he was going to build a contending team, he would not be able to do it the traditional way.Beane’s strategy -- as depicted in the 2011 film, “Moneyball” -- has traversed beyond the world of baseball to nearly all sectors of business and has become synonymous with making data-driven decisions.The tenet Beane and the A’s followed enabling them to average more than 93 wins per year for the following eight years had two components:
Discard highly valued “vanity” metrics that did not have a significant impact on winning baseball games.
Identify different metrics -- preferably those no one else was paying attention to but which had a significant impact on winning baseball games.
If Billy Beane were to take over a sales organization today, he would feel like he’d traveled back by about 20 years.Sales organizations today are dominated by metrics, but they’re rarely data-driven and even take actions counterproductive to the outcomes they desire. This results in higher costs, burnt out reps, high turnover, and frustrated customers.When noted economist Steven Levitt published the book “Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything,” he shared the disproportionate impact structural incentives have on the behavior of individuals and their output.Structural incentives are those created by the structure of what’s being done. They are often referred to as the law of unexpected consequences and are generally more powerful than explicitly stated incentives.Structural incentives are also one of the primary causes of difficulty in change management. In sales, the most common structural incentives are the metrics used to assess performance -- whether tied to compensation or not.
The following is an excerpt from The Secret to Strong Revenue Growth, Part 2
What grade would you give your company on your growth efforts? Think about it and give an honest answer.
Did you give yourself a B or higher? Most people I talk to do.
And in some cases, that grade is deserved--but most of the time, it’s not.
Why? Your business is probably doing pretty well right now. Most businesses are, for a number of reasons. After all:
We’re in an economy as strong as any in our lifetime.
Technology is enabling us to easily and inexpensively do things we could have only dreamed of less than a decade ago.
The primary theme of HubSpot’s annual gathering of the world’s best growth executives (Inbound) was #GrowBetter, which indicates most companies are booming.
But now grade yourself compared to your peer companies, which are likely also booming. You’ll find that most companies are not outperforming the average cohort. In short, it’s easy to think you’re doing better than average because you’re doing well.
So what steps can you take to make sure that you’re taking advantage of an economic boom by successfully innovating--but also minimize your risks?
There is a roadmap. Companies that successfully manifest the power of innovation tend to view the world through three time horizons--and you can do the same.
We've been doing a lot of research over the last year into a critical part of the buying process that seems to get very little attention in the design and execution of demand generation: sales and marketing efforts. Anyone who has ever been involved in attracting or acquiring new customers knows that buyer intent is an important ingredient in the customer acquisition recipe.
Intent varies by person, by market and/or by what you're selling. There are any number of factors that are going to impact when and where intent occurs, but somewhere along the buyer’s journey, buyer intent hits a critical point. Intent, initially, does not necessarily relate directly to buying from any particular vendor. Buyer intent refers to the decision that some level of action needs to take place. If you think about the last major purchase or even decision that you made, you can quickly and easily identify that point that separates pre-intent actions from post-intent ones.