We all know that experience is the best teacher!
Delivering cutting edge learning that is fast, agile, cost-effective and easy to develop is both essential and crucial to any learning organization, especially when moving to the cloud.
Changes in the way multi-national organizations, business buyers, and even individual consumers make Cloud, SaaS and Laas purchase decisions have driven permanent shifts in how sales organizations must go to market and interact with customers and prospects. This is particularly true in the ways that companies buy technology and services in the “learning” arena. Sales leaders have a multitude of levers they can pull as they work to become and remain agile and adjust their approach, from traditional approaches to looking for speed, cost reduction and agility as they move to selling cloud based services. None is more important than ensuring that your sales organization is prepared to up their game in the field.
IT'S TIME TO SHOW UP DIFFERENTLY IN FRONT OF BUYERS!!! TODAY'S SALES FORCE NEEDS TO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THIS NEW CLOUD SALES ENVIRONMENT!
Value Proposition and Key Metrics
BTA’s research indicates that current business practices associated with the recruitment, utilization and retention of consultative sales professionals causes both margin compression, and a significant loss of revenue opportunities. Inadequate training and support systems force unwanted turnover that drains profitability by a factor of five times the median salary. Inefficient skills and knowledge matching to customer needs for each inadequately trained cohort, i.e. new hires or seasoned performers in transition, can prevent the capture of approximately $80m of additional revenue, $12.5m in net income and $.01 in earnings per share. The general trend away from sales person-centric selling towards virtual, dispersed decision making exacerbates the already flawed, and under-exploited current condition.
The use of BTA’s tool kit of bench-marked best practices reduces the cost of training for both new and transitioning candidates by an average $32,000 per individual per year, and further leads to a re-allocation of up to 15% of a sales manager’s time currently wasted on non-revenue producing tasks towards effective change-making coaching. The use of best practice e-learning skills and knowledge tools also drives the efficient deployment of sales persons towards more valuable, and more professionally attractive high-return opportunities. BTA’s benchmark research in consultative selling reveals that such best practice usage delivers a 7% higher EBITDA, and a 17.6% lower Cost of Sales than the technology industry average. The macro trend towards the application of these best practices, and the efficiencies which they leverage, will inevitably become the norm. We project leadership in this future state will be highly rewarded.
Our Sales Philosophy
Successful selling especially in the cloud environment has a special calculus all its own, and it’s based on how someone wants to “buy” and the satisfaction of a unique set of individual needs. The process by which these needs are discovered, and from which solutions are crafted, is the foundation of all sales effectiveness. A successfully executed sales process influences decision making in such a positive way, and to such a significant degree that the approach per se can effectively distinguish the seller from competitors in a crowded marketplace. This customer-centric collaboration transforms needs into solutions that a customer both values, and in which they feel genuine ownership. It is based on this foundation that Branch Track Americas has developed its approach to preparing salespeople with the best possible tools and experience to ready them for their customer interactions.
Top performers in all fields invariably believe in what they offer and can convey the high levels of personal credibility and trust essential to forging a bond that can withstand almost any threat or rival business proposition.
Why then is so much selling unpersuasive? Behavioral research, validated by scores of best practice studies (including our own proprietary data) indicates that it’s all about the “how”. How the seller relates to the buyer. How the seller demonstrates trust, credibility, empathy and rapport. How the seller listens and adapts to social style and non-verbal cues. How the seller integrates personal experience and expertise into the conversation. How the seller supports reaching the buyer's clarity on need and want. How the seller becomes a trusted advisor. How the seller presents needs-based solutions to a prospect.
Successful persuasion requires that each “how” be accessible by the seller at the point of customer contact and adapted to the situation. These interdependent competencies (HOW'S) make up the tactical skills, practices and behaviors of successful selling. This becomes crucial when discussing the complex and new cloud selling environment.
To create the most effective means of learning these HOW'S, we know that experience and practice are by far the keys. They can and should be learned as one coherent commitment dynamic. We use the matrix of “conscience/unconscious competence” to both diagnose, teach and simulate these tactics within the context of each client’s unique selling environment. For example, we would observe and analyze top performers naturally interacting with prospects, not unlike a golf pro who video-tapes a swing in order to capture it for later use as a teachable moment. This approach assures the learning audience that subsequent simulations and training reflects their reality. It also permits sales trainers and developers the professional distance needed to de-code those observations for subsequent modular instruction as a “conscious competence”, because a great seller, even a “natural”, isn’t automatically an effective teacher or coach.
The tactics associated with selling competence reside within a strategically focused and intentional selling approach which our sales philosophy maintains is composed of four phases: reconnaissance and planning, primary contacts, multi-party meetings and follow-up. There are two topics highlighted by this strategic perspective that should be addressed because they place more emphasis on planning and strategizing and less emphasis on the interpersonal tactics. “Phase 1” preparation, how well one is organized and in command of the planning process, helps establish the “presence” associated with first impressions and credibility. It also helps organize the ever-increasing volume of data needed for prospecting and qualifying opportunities. Quantum shifts are taking place in how customers at all levels behave, communicate and make decisions. A salesperson today must secure competitive advantage by exploiting the opportunities opened by technology, and the burgeoning phenomenon of social networking. We advocate extracting semantic and sentiment analysis from targeted social networks, and integrating that information with traditional sources of reconnaissance. This approach tames the information overload and creates a powerful dashboard for prospecting and Phase 1 preparation. The second strategic topic of our sales philosophy is multi-party selling. Important decisions will typically require securing the support of more than one person in an organization. The analysis of key players and stakeholders in complex decisions is a critical competence within overall sales effectiveness. A successful multi-party selling strategy includes understanding how each key player influences a decision. Our suggested strategically focused sales plan includes a “key player grid” that answers the following critical questions: who are the key players and stakeholders, what do they care about, how do they make decisions, what are their goals and priorities, and how do they or will they measure success.
One final point of our sales philosophy…..Clients tell us that we’ve “cracked the code” for sales competence, sales coaching, and the training of trainers. The thousands of hours of in-the-field modeling, 20,000 360 surveys, and relentless measuring and reinforcing, have led us to conclude that successful sales training is all about context. Diagnosis, development and delivery must form a virtuous circle where the same learning audience that provides the subject matter experts, also provides the coaches, the trainers and the leaders. It’s a community of practice where authorship is synonymous with ownership, and sustaining the gains is in the hands of empowered, enabled and motivated change agents.
Sales Managers Want/Need the Most Effective Sales Force Possible
One measure of consultative sales effectiveness is that the broader the horizon of problem-solving information introduced by the seller, the stronger the seller’s value proposition, especially in the highly competitive cloud sales environment. By fielding a sales force that creates client value during the selling process, you create competitive advantage, strategic differentiation, and an on-going sales force readiness to leverage their thought leadership. From a buyer perspective, the more understanding the seller demonstrates of the buyer's needs, business imperatives and challenges, especially when cloud related, the more trust is created. Many Saas and Cloud products are similar. Trust is the key differentiator.
How then do we create that sales force? As we described above, we need a combination of skills, attitude and adaptability. The most effective means to those ends is direct experience and practice. Branch Track Americas provides the tools and services to create cutting edge programs that achieve these goals.