Sales and Marketing Performance Blog

CSO Insights 2015 Sales Performance Optimization Survey

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, Nov 05, 2014

It's 2015 Chief Sales Officers (CSO) Insights Sales Performance Optimization survey time and this is your invitation to participate in one of the most comprehensive and useful surveys of sales behavior. 

Why bother?
For 20 minutes of your time you will receive the most comprehensive sales behavior survey in the industry. It will be interesting to see what sales executives place at the top of their Barriers to Effectiveness list in 2015. Here is last years report.
Results from previous research studies have been referenced by publications such as Harvard Business Review, Dow Jones, Wikipedia, Selling Power Magazine, and others.

2015 is all about revenue growth. Achieve this, and shareholder value will increase. Fail to do so, miss your number, and investors will punish you!

To help companies determine the right strategies to increase sales in the coming year, CSO Insights'  21st Sales Performance Optimization study will focus on four key themes:
  • Find More—by optimizing lead generation
  • Win More—by closing more forecast deals
  • Keep More—by minimizing customer churn
  • Grow More—by maximizing customer wallet share

The research report will retail for $795.

Be a part of the research project and get the results early in February at no charge.
As a special thanks, you will receive the CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization 2014 Key Trends topical report which summarizes last year's report.


Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues whom you think would like to participate and receive the 2015 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Survey in February free of charge.

Click here to take the survey
I'll take the survey
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Topics: CSO Insights, sales performance, 3d printing, SPO

CSO Insights 2014 Sales Performance Optimization Survey

Posted by Mark Gibson on Mon, Nov 11, 2013

It's 2014 Chief Sales Officers (CSO) Insights Sales Performance Optimization survey time and this is your invitation to participate in one of the most comprehensive and useful surveys of sales behavior. 

Why bother? For 20 minutes of your time you will receive the most comprehensive sales behavior surveys in the industry. Results from previous research studies have been referenced by publications such as Harvard Business Review, Dow Jones, Wikipedia, Selling Power Magazine, and others.

2014 is all about revenue growth. Achieve this, and shareholder value will increase. Fail to do so, miss your number, and investors will punish you!

To help companies determine the right strategies to increase sales in the coming year, CSO Insights'  20th Sales Performance Optimization study will focus on four key themes:
  • Find More—by optimizing lead generation
  • Win More—by closing more forecast deals
  • Keep More—by minimizing customer churn
  • Grow More—by maximizing customer wallet share
The research report will retail for $795.

Be part of the research project and get the results early at no charge. As a special thanks, you will receive the CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization 2013 Key Trends topical report which summarizes last year's report.

Please feel free to forward this to your colleagues whom you think would like to participate in order to paticipate in the surrvey and receive the 2014 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Survey.

Click here to take the survey
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Topics: CSO Insights, sales performance, SPO

B2B Selling: The NCR-MSTR OEM Partnership - Pt 2 Defeat

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Nov 20, 2012

The following is a true story. A few names have been changed to protect the identity of some of the people involved. 

In the first installment of this story,  Scorched Earth, I described the situation leading to my being hired at MicroStrategy into an OEM sales role and the problems in overcoming relationships that had been soured by my predecessor. This episode is about the events leading up to my being given 30 days notice of termination and reflects on the changing role of salespeople in B2B selling.

The Disintermediation of B2B Sales Professionals

Prior to the Internet, B2B salespeople were the conduits of information for customers. They were an essential part of the landscape in selling complex B2B products and services.

Their role however is changing fast, driven by unrelenting productivity improvements and innovation in the way companies buy, market and sell products. I was discussing this point with Adam Zais VP of Business Development at Wistia recently and we agreed that the role of salesperson is morphing into the part-time facilitation of a buying process.

Salespeople are not needed in many cases to sell B2B products. Neil Rackham rightly forecast the end of transactional selling 13 years ago in "Rethinking the Sales Force" and his prescient direction to sales managers to focus their direct sales teams on creating and capturing value for the customer. A preview of The Challenger Sale I believe, echoed in the Value Created and Value Captured Buying behaviors, outlined in the book, Why Killer Products Don't Sell.

Prospects can research potential suppliers, identify products and services, download whitepapers, read case studies and peer reviews, configure and price systems and make a business case without ever speaking to a salesperson. When it does serve buyers to engage salespeople, it is to lower the purchase price. The method is to invite several vendors to a "bake-off" or "beauty contest", where the salesperson's role is to discount the product or service and make other concessions in return for the order. The reverse auction is the ultimate desination for the purchase of commodity products and services and salespeople are not needed for this function.

This may sound slightly cynical, but unhappily it is reality. Having arrived a this conclusion, the discussion with Adam turned to where salespeople are actually needed and where they do contribute to the complex sale and the segments in the industry the top-guns will gravitate toward in the future, - for the big commission checks.

Adam continued, "I believe that I have a more cynical view....I believe that B2B "sales" professionals are "history" as it relates to "contributing to the complex sale" if that sale is thought of as a "deal" instead of a line-of-business or channel or partnership. I also think that the days of "big commission checks" in exchange for what sales people have done traditionally are over. 

Here's an example of what I mean: once-upon-a-time I did two deals with telecom companies for a very complex / very technical piece of software. In reality, the sales were made because of my SE....NOT (as much as I hate to admit it) because of anything I really did. Sure, I did some qualification of the prospects and set up meetings / demos and such. But I didn't really deserve to be paid far more than the SE. He could easily have done everything I did.

In a nutshell, the company could have saved themselves a shed-load of money, gotten much the same results, and properly motivated the correct person. Again, I really think that variable compensation for the function we still refer to as "sales" needs to end. To my mind, this perpetuates behavior that we should not longer wish to have....too much thinking about the individual (the rep) versus the team / company / etc. 

I do think that we want the "top-guns" to be attracted to OEM / Channel / Biz Dev. type roles. The complexity of these roles, which is what I think you mean by "the complex sale", DOES require high-end "sales" skills. I believe these are the only sales roles that are appropriately matched to the type of variable compensation plans that generate "big commission checks." Every other "sales" position should only involve variable compensation if that compensation is essentially the same for any other position in a company if that company decides to have such a compensation plan. Oh, and one more thing, the concept of the "Sales President's Club" needs to be confined to the dust-heap of history ASAP!

I want to be clear, I am not saying that we should give up on B2B. It's more about what the future needs to look like in terms of expectations on the part of sales professionals, how they should be managed and compensated, and most important how they should be trained."

When you are truly ready, the Channel will show up

Until the release of MicroStrategy7, the product was probably the largest Visual Basic executable in the BI industry. From a reseller or OEM's perspective it had very low appeal; no API, no SDK, poor documentation and it broke your software with every new release. I felt sorry for our early partners and they certainly let the executive know they were not happy. Clearly, the MicroStrategy product was not channel-ready prior to release 7 and the channel sales model was push not pull. When you are truly ready, the channel will show up.

That did not stop the channels team at MicroStrategy from selling it however and Scott Hughes hired a strong team of experienced salespeople to sell it....and they did. Like many well meaning channel sales efforts, the software got sold, salespeople got well compensated and the software sat on the shelf and was never implemented.

You are being given 30 days notice to perform - (you're fired)

After 3 years, hundreds of meetings and nothing to show other than a bunch of joint marketing agreements with IBM, Sequent, Tandem and NCR, and a nascent reseller agreement with NCR, frankly I was not surprised that my time was up. My boss Scott Hughes, whom I respected and like, was straight up with me and I recall responding that I understood why and that I would be very adult about it, but I just needed a bit more time as the ship was turning.

The ink was barely dry on the reseller agreement with NCR and I wasn't going to let some Johnny-come-lately walk in and reap the rewards of all of my effort. A couple of months earlier I trained the NCR Teradata retail sales team on how to and where to sell MicroStrategy7 and they were generating a lot of activity and were teeing up a couple of 6 figure MSTR sales with their major retail customers.

I recall walking into VP Sales, Ray Tacoma's office and pleading for another 30 days, as I knew things were about to change. Within 2 weeks of being put on notice, NCR Teradata came in with a big sale and then shortly after that, another one.

Saved by the bell!

Continued....in part 3. Finding a Deal


Webinar - Create Visual Confections that Sell!
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Topics: channel sales, B2B selling, sales performance

CSO Insights 2013 Sales Performance Optimization Survey - A Survey for You

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, Oct 24, 2012

CSO Insights is a specialist research firm benchmarking the challenges faced by today's sales and marketing organizations.  CSO Insights tracks the trends in the use of people, process, technology and knowledge to improve sales performance. 

Research is their core business. Each year, they survey thousands of Chief Sales Officers to learn the challenges they see as most critical. 

Last year I invited sales managers and business owners to participate in CSO Insights 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Survey and the pool of respondents of more than 2000 sales executives provided an extremely insightful and valuable set of benchmarks for companies in different industries. 
“Anyone looking for key trends and advice around Sales Performance Optimization should reach out to Jim Dickie and Barry Trailer at CSO Insights. Both have a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area.” -George Roberts, Partner, OpenView Partners, Venture Capital
The survey itself is completely confidential and takes about 15-20 minutes and you and your company can remain anonymous if desired. 

In return for completing the survey,  you will receive a complimentary copy of the survey (retail value $795) in late January or early February next year. As an added bonus, you will receive an instant download of the 2012 Key Trends topical report that summarizes the survey findings.

The survey is divided into the following areas:
  1. Key trends in 2013
  2. Hiring and Compensation
  3. Sales Cycle
  4. Sales Strategy
  5. Sales Execution
  6. Sales Process
  7. Account Management
  8. Sales Management
  9. Core CRM
  10. CRM 2.0
  11. Sales and Marketing Alignment
  12. Going Forward.
If you are in marketing, please bring this survey to the attention of the sales leader in your company. 
I'll take the survey!
I'll take the survey
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Topics: CSO Insights, sales performance, sales and marketing

The Challenger Sale - Book Review

Posted by Mark Gibson on Thu, Mar 15, 2012

The Challenger Sale (TCS), by Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson is an important book for sales professionals and sales managers involved in complex B2B sales as it proves that a number of commonly held beliefs about sales behavior are obsolete. 
Its successor, (read my book review) The Challenger Customer - Book Review is even more valluable for marketers and sales enblement professionals as it inherits many of the concepts in this work and applies the sale level of rigor to examing how companies buy. The insights are worth ten times the price of the book.

Unlike many other "how-to-sell" books based on theories and ideas on improving sales performance, The Challenger Sale is underpinned by rich and extensive data from more than 6,000 sales professionals from more than 100 member companies, gathered over the past four years.

You are a Prospect for Challenger Sales Training

I don't have a problem (other reviewers did have), that TCS is produced by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) and that the CEB is a member organization providing for-profit sales training for its members. They want to sell you Challenger Sales Development Services...in the same way every other author of sales performance literature wants to sell their services. It happens that we are very much aligned in our view of the sea-change that has occurred in buyer behavior and the need for new approaches in engaging buyers at the moments of truth when face-face.

If you are selling complex software, enterprise hardware or services in a B2B environment and haven't read The Challenger Sale yet, then perhaps this article might convince you it's worth reading at least once...regardless of where you get your sales development services.
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Topics: sales performance, challenger sale, B2B selling process

CSO Insights 2012 Sales Performance Optimization - A Survey for you?

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Oct 25, 2011

CSO Insights is a specialist research firm benchmarking the challenges faced by today's sales and marketing organizations. CSO Insights tracks the trends in the use of people, process, technology and knowledge to improve sales performance. 

Research is their core business. Each year, they survey thousands of Chief Sales Officers to learn the challenges they see as most critical.

Last year I invited sales managers and business owners to participate in CSO Insights 2011 Sales Performance Optiization Survey and the pool of respondents of more than 2000 sales executives provided an extremely insightful and valuable set of benchmarks for companies in different industries. 
“I have been completing your surveys now for several years and would like to thank you for the amazing work you are doing. I am STILL digesting the last SPO survey - amazing source of information!!!” -Paul Hamilton-Smith, Partner, Procesos Commerciales
The survey itself is completely confidential and takes about 15-20 minutes and you and your company can remain anonymous if desired.

In return for completing the survey, you will receive a complimentary copy of the survey (retail value $795) in late January or early February next year.
The survey is divided into the following areas:
  1. Key trends in 2012
  2. Hiring and Compensation
  3. Sales Cycle
  4. Sales Strategy
  5. Sales Execution
  6. Sales Process
  7. Account Management
  8. Sales Management
  9. Core CRM
  10. CRM 2.0
  11. Sales and Marketing Alignment
  12. Going Forward.
Click me
If you are in marketing, please bring this survey to the attention of the sales leader in your company.
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Topics: CSO Insights, sales performance

Looking in the Wrong Place for Sales Performance?

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Sep 06, 2011

In the past year we have generated hundreds of inbound leads using our HubSpot system and I've noticed an interesting trend that I thought I would share. I have come to realize that many sales and marketing leaders are looking in the wrong place for sales performance.
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Topics: inbound marketing, sales and marketing alignment, sales performance, whiteboarding

Product Training Doesn't Work- Get Sales to DO Product Training

Posted by Mark Gibson on Wed, May 18, 2011

Plenty of conversations at a recent marketing event lead me to believe that there is a major problem in the way companies approach product training.

Getting Sell-through

I asked 10 people in B2B product marketing or product management the same question "How long after new product training does it take for you to get meaningful sell through of the new product?"

Sell-through varied from 6-12 months and in one case, 18 months, with a lot of head shaking, groans and frowned expressions from responders.
This was a very unscientific poll and in some cases the product marketers did get sell-through earlier from a few of the top reps, but in general it took a lot longer than they expected to produce the revenue.

In a more detailed conversation, I spoke this week with a prospective client running sales operations in the medical software field, regarding their planned sales training and certification program.

I asked if they had introduced any new products in the past year and if they had issues in getting sell-through.
He mentioned that they did introduce a new product in their November sales training event last year, that they believed was a clear winner for clients and had a high value proposition that was easily understood.

This is his response, " We introduced the product with a strong message and clear value-prop into a market we are represented in strongly. Unfortunately we have only achieved 40% of the $3.4M we expected to sell in the first 6 months after introduction".

I asked if he could describe their product introduction process....does any of the following sound familiar?

THE OLD WAY OF PRODUCT TRAINING

1. "Our Product Management team had worked for months to create and package the new product, ready for training at the Kick-off in November.

2. At the event, the product was presented in a PowerPoint presentation, followed by a demonstration. This was followed by presentation on use cases and ROI impact analysis. It was a strong launch.
3. Subsequent regional training and group Webinars were held to ensure the sales team understood the product.
4. Product management created supporting PowerPoint presentations, .pdf's and created a resource center in Salesforce.com to support sales efforts.
5. The Website product messaging was consistent with the sales collateral."
I then asked what went wrong and why he felt they had they fallen so far short after such a strong launch.
"Some of the sales guys have gotten it and are doing well with the new product. The majority are not hitting their numbers, and these reps have a tendency to rely on PowerPoint to do the selling and their conversations are all around product instead of getting the business conversation on the table."

If the old (current) way of product training doesn't work, what does?

Having been through many of the traditional product training events described above in my career, and for the past six months, experiencing the new way of product training with some of the smartest sales enablement teams in the industry, I have some good news.

Instead of frustration in product management andsales enablement at salespeople doing their own thing and disappointing new product sell-through, there is a much better way of introducing new products.

GET THE SALES TEAM TO DO THE PRODUCT TRAINING

In our typical Visual Storytelling training session, each person will either see the Visual Confection, or whiteboard presented up to 10 times and give the presentation a minimum of six times each in the training session.


They will be able to meet new clients the next day, engage buyers around their issues and use the visual confection in a conversational style.
They won't be perfect, but with practice they will quickly gain confidence and after 20 repetitions their confidence will leap as they will "own their story".

If you want the sales team to learn a new product and get them to sell it quickly, then get them to DO the product training. 
Make Your Kick-off Sales Event a Success!
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Topics: sales performance, whiteboard enablement, product training

Positioning Statements - Best New Sales Technique of the Year

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, May 03, 2011

If your sales team is cold calling, you might try this technique

I read a lot of books written by other sales training professionals and attend professional development courses every year. When I find an idea that I think will work I'll try it.

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Topics: sales performance, positioning statements, dave kurlan

If you just complete one sales survey this year - make it this one

Posted by Mark Gibson on Tue, Nov 02, 2010

CSO Insights is a specialist sales and marketing consulting firm and creators of the annual Sales Performance Optimization survey.

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Topics: CSO Insights, sales performance

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