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Just a quick not to anyone still reading this blog. I am in love with Teambox. It is the best software for online collaboration ever. Why?
1. The activity stream makes is super easy to stay on top of teams and projects.
2. The task management is easier than anything I have ever used.
3. @Notifications make it fast and easy to include people in conversations.
4. CONVERT TO TASK! I can take any conversation and make it actionable.
5. Pages are the easiest way to share content EVER!
6. Google docs integration.
The list keeps going, but hey you get the picture. If not here is a cool one:
And this is me telling Scoble about it!
What is your WorkStyle? Built by sales, built for sales, and recommended for the startup!
I must preface this article by stating clearly, that after years of using, implementing, selecting, designing, managing, and optimizing CRM and SFA solutions, I had grown weary of the responsibility. Every time I thought I found the perfect solution, something would prevent my team from utilizing one system for optimum sales productivity. Additionally, being at startups, my executive team always wants to use their sales tool as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planner). This distraction of processes always confounds me when trying to properly deliver resources to sales.
When building the processes that align with the strategy of a newly forming sales team. It is imperative that what you design fits your objectives, not the limitations of your tools. For this very reason, most early forming organizations change their strategy to fit their CRM, or maintain a large portion of their tools, pipeline, and activity tracking offline. It is also unbelievably common to go through as many as three systems when growing an organization. The lost time and resources cost many companies more than the miniscule saving of not starting with the correct system.
Headaches have come with every tool I implemented. Limitations on design, IT based functionality, Finance based process, it was all a waste of energy. Needless to say, I had given up on the perfect solution. Every time I turned to the key elements of what Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools should provide, I was let down. Here are three of those key needs:
1. Easy to use tools that speed up the sales day
2. A well thought out process that encourages the movement of sales through the pipeline
3. A strategic framework that enables the leaders to steer the ship
Then I received an e-mail from Dave Hurlbrink of Landslide. He offered to show me a new “Sales WorkStyle Management” solution. I asked him what Sales WorkStyle (SWS) meant. He briefly explained that it was like CRM but much better. I rolled my eyes and allowed him to set up a time for a demo. Another CRM, I was not that excited. That was until he launched his demo and we addressed almost every single issue I have had, or my teams, peers, and reports have had with typical sales tools. As a product designed by sales people it has an answer for almost everything. Here are a few examples:
Simple and helpful tools – Hey team, let’s go fast:
If you run a sales team of more than two reps, chances are someone does not enter notes in the systems. There are two primary reasons for this neglect:
1. They write their notes down somewhere else and do not want to copy them to the CRM. It is usually a case of the exercise being too cumbersome for their busy day.
2. They do not like taking notes, “everything” is memorized. This really is a statement that I do not like your tools because I feel they make my life harder.
Weeks and months pass, and those little things that could move the sale along are lost. Objectives and goals are forgotten or misinterpreted, or even worse, in most CRM’s the ability to find these nuggets is lost to a myriad of meaningless activities
Landslide offers a virtual sales assistant with its product. Place a call during business hours and one of their friendly representatives takes notes, updates activity, moves accounts through the pipeline, schedules and creates opportunities, etc, etc…
You can also e-mail, and or fax in your requests. Think of the magnitude of having your entire field sales teams update accounts via voice while stuck in traffic.
Landslide let’s you manage data intuitively. You are in an account and click on a task, it opens up right on screen and you can click to manipulate anything. Even better, from the home page, when you click on something, it opens up right in front of you and when you close it, you are back where you started. No nuisance of multiple open pages or hitting back buttons over and over again. This alone can saves an inside rep an hour or two of productivity a day.
Sliders to create ranges. This is just too cool. Instead of playing with dates, and you can do that too, you can easily change ranges with a slide tool for month to month or week to week. THIS IS JUST PLAIN AWESOME. Want to see what Q1 looks like, zip zip, then a month, another zip. I first saw this idea on a website selling plane tickets and thought, my CRM needs this…
Everything in one place. Imagine having every single one of your sales resources in one place. Need a contract, click and send. Want to work up a spec sheet, or send the latest marketing brochure zip zoom on its way. Need to start up a Web-Ex? Guess what, it is in their system too. I was expecting to click the mouse and have my lunch delivered, but I think I have to wait for the next version.
Pipeline that helps me sell – Forecasting with a purpose…at last!
How accurate is your forecast? How many notes do you have to read to see what rep is doing what, or how many deals are lost because you really have no idea what is going on. What exactly does 70% mean? Who decided what process you use, the company that sold you your product, an instruction manual, or the IT department?
Landslides complete pipeline system. Landslide gives you a multi-dimensional opportunity palette that is the HDTV of forecasting and deal management. Scratch that, today’s tools are like dial up and Landslide is something from the Matrix.
This you have to see to believe, and at first it appears to be a cumbersome tool. At second glance however, you realize that their pipeline management integrates all of the statuses, previously mentioned resources, media, and content needed to move an opportunity from one stage to the next. Need to get out a spec sheet to help answer some questions, click and send.
Build different processes for different sectors. This might be simultaneously the least sexy and MOST VALUABLE offering from Landslide. I have always been so frustrated that my renewals product C have always been in my forecast right next to my new business for product A, and my offering B deals are being cultivated in a completely different buying process, but have the same look and feel as all those other opportunities.
Does your major account team sell a service that requires different approaches that the subscription sales of your inbound team? Does widget A require a three step sales process, while monster product B need a five stage, twenty step process? Knock yourself out kids, because Landslide gives you the flexibility to deliver the best process to each of your offerings.
How much do I need to know to succeed?
I HATE EXECUTIVE DASHBOARDS… well at least I used to. Everything I wanted to see was not where I wanted to see it. The report behind the chart or graph never gave me the KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) I wanted to drill into the system.
Also, building the processes that determine sales stages, the key indicators, the important steps to go from one status was an offline adventure. Unfortunately the organization’s design never fit into the product I was using.
Here are two solutions for the executive and management teams that afford them complete design and reporting capabilities.
Pulse! One brilliantly developed, interactive and intuitive dashboard. This is one cool engine! In five minutes you can review a team, a person, or your own pipeline in many, MANY different ways . Management of these changes is done through sliders that change ranges and criteria. Also, you can rapidly move from any stage of the sale, any percentage of expectation, and best of all by deal size. Finally you can drill down and get even more finite in your detail. I have never geeked out on sample data as hard as I did in my evaluation of Pulse. I was dreaming of quickly delivering data to my board of directors. Data from my system, that without hours of scrutiny, I could trust.
Now this is more for the consultant or the system designers, but I suggest any of you out there that want to dabble with processes check this out. You can find it at ProvenPath.com, and it is so easy to understand I will share very little here. ProvenPath allows you to design processes for the stages of each type of sale you have. It takes a couple of minutes to architect complex sales scenarios, and determine best practices. I will use this tool for every organization that I am developing strategy for. Why? Because this is one simple beast with a lot of power.
I could go on for hours about Landslide, but have already rattled off over 1500 words. There is much more to the offering. If you would like to learn more, click here or e-mail me at email@example.com
It is Tuesday evening in Memphis Tennessee and I just finished presenting to a great group of Regional Managers at Henry Schein. This is the first moment since my fantastic and kidless weekend with the Wife that I have had a chance to write.We are picking up where we left off on pipeline, and hopefully you have downloaded the Focus tool from firstborder.com. If not, here is the link:
Let’s now get granular and dig into what this tool and its simple methodology are all about. Colin’s wisdom is outlined in a great whitepaper that accompanies the Focus tool. It is the “15 second sales review”. You can download it here:
This is a fantastic read, and it parallels almost every bit of how I used to manage my own pipeline. I managed my funnel of leads, my pipeline, and my deals won or lost by adding in the subject in or out. In meant I was currently in control and providing data points to my prospect. Out meant I was currently stuck in a holding pattern as the buyer controlled the process. My out’s were glossed over on a weekly basis and it made it much easier for me to address the viable opportunities at hand. I was able to review my pipeline and determine my real opportunities in a matter of minutes.
If I had Focus back then, with its ability to splinter off the deals by sales or buying process, I would have easily shrunk that review down to seconds. What I called in and out, Colin calls upside and commit. What I saw as my control or the buyers control, he sees as who is in charge of the process.
I would use my pipeline and the status of my in accounts to determine what I needed to do to be successful in any given period. If I had a meaty group of deals in my pipeline and expected most of them to close, I would focus first on getting those deals locked up, the prospect for new opportunities. If I had a slew of those deals in jeopardy, I would make saving these opportunities my focus. Every once in a great while, my pipeline would look thin, that is when I got my fingers in shape and DIALED, DIALED, DIALED!
It was easy for me to direct my attention the activity that would keep an even flowing pipeline from funnel to deal. If I was struggling, or my pipeline was getting clogged in any one stage, I could get the help or training I needed to continue the process effectively. What always surprised me was how much time my counterparts spent trying to figure out what stage each of their prospects was in. Often they spend more time chasing the unknown than actually managing goals and objectives. I also watched as my colleagues spent their time focusing on opportunities that they had no chance of closing, or at least no chance of closing soon. They did this and kept their pipeline flush with these opportunities to avoid having to make the calls in the early stage of the process. They looked and acted busy, but never hit their numbers.
As a Coach, I struggled initially with my first team’s ignorance to pipeline development. It seemed so obvious to me, yet even to this day, I probably spend 40-50% of my initial work with a rep teaching them how build a strong and consistent pipeline. Usually there is an expectation that things come with hard work and they neglect smart work. The things to teach your reps are:
1. Prospect and cold call every day. Generate more leads than you can manage.
2. Create objectives for communication. Deliver to these goals and objectives as often as possible.
3. Build a pipeline of viable and interested prospects. Weed out the fluff now.
4. Three slips equal a lost sale. Start over with someone else, because too much time has already been spent with this account. Unless it is work 30+% of your annual quota, move on! If you have run the sales cycle properly, if the opportunity is really there they will come back to you. When they do, enjoy the extra revenue.
5. Ask for help. The ego has no place in the pipeline. Make it very clear to your team that you are 100% committed to their success. If they do not come to you for education, and you continue to offer, you may have made an error in hiring judgment. The greats want to learn to get better.
For all of the promoting of his methodologies, Colin owes me a pint when I hop over to his Island. Seriously, he has a solid system that compounds and simplifies a lot of my own philosophies. Salespeople need a path, and if they learn how to pave, it makes the entire process smooth.
Anthony Parinello is a master trainer and salesman. He attributes all of his success to a turning point in his career. This moment is when he decided to start at the top of the food chain with “VITO”. He developed a system that will get you meeting with the top people in an organization and aid you in developing lasting relationships.“Selling To Vito” might be the worst name in history for a book, but what Parinello lacks in witty phrase turning; he quickly makes up for in compelling ideas with strong messaging to back it up. This is another top of the read list for anyone with the courage to heed his advice.A few minor complaints:
1. He likes to coin phrases and name his prospects a little too often. He dilutes his message a bit with the touch of cheese and his 1980’s style vernacular. This will quickly turn off the young sales reader, and it will be a shame for his concept and messages are pure.
2. There is not enough “story” in the writing. It is a bit too much system and not enough substance. Again, this makes it hard to keep turning the pages. If I could make one suggestion to a legend of the circuit, and it is pretty ballsy of me to critique a master, but since this is a review I have to speak from the heart. My suggestion would be to add more tales of success that utilize the process and remove a bit of the spoon fed instructions. At times it feels a bit insulting.
3. While the baby boomers are still in power, they are slowly starting to retire. When the 60’s and 70’s babies start take control of the corporate world, the electronic real time super highway reality of life will eliminate his mailing methods. My generation is plugged in, and it will take talented e-mails that are permitted to get through to make your point. While communication is getting more and more immediate, it is also getting harder to get messages through the gateway. While Parinello will probably attest that this is why to send a printed letter, I can assure you that my colleagues trash every letter we get. Personally, if it is not a bill or a check, my mail is meaningless and gets filed in the cylinder.To any young readers out there, I recommend fighting your way through these potential read stoppers and get through to the substance of this book. Find ways to get your message to the top.
Parinello’s methods are not exactly original, but what he does is create an easy to follow system that will work for anyone with the smarts and guts to do it. My only concern with his concept is how little he stresses the ability to collaborate with groups. I believe when you are working with the top people, it is imperative to work every contact to the north, south, east, and west. He mentions many times how “VITO” has his trusted advisers, but never suggests using them as partners as well.He defines the technical members of the team as burdens to the sales cycle. There is a disdain and trust of these members of “VITO”’s team. I think there is some truth in his opinions, and heeding his advice will serve you well. I would only add that if you develop ways to maximize your relationship with everyone in an organization, you will only continue to prosper.This one point aside, Parinello’s concepts are spot on.
Listen to the man and adopt a strategy that gets you to the top of the corporate hierarchy. Parinello is absolutely, ABSOLUTELY, 100% COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY CORRECT when he says that this will speed up the hierarchy and win you bigger and better sales. It will also speed up the “No” process by eliminating endless time chasing deals that were never there, or you never had a chance of winning. My favorite point that he makes is one of my favorite mantras (My quote):“A Sales Champion does not close deals, but opens the door to long term relationships.”He states this many times in his book and every time it made me smile. He had a quote that, may be my new favorite. It speaks to the work ethic of a Sales Champions:“If you want to win all the awards and enjoy the prestige and commission checks that it brings, then begin to do your sales work part-time; start working half-days. That’s right just pick twelve hours each and every day and work ‘em.”
Overall score: 8
Anthony Parinello does not need me to tell him he wrote a good book. I present this review to all of you that are struggling to get past the influencers and evaluators in the market. Jump start your career by reading this book and using some of his methods. The biggest point he makes, and one that you have to embrace to succeed is that you can establish equal business stature with top officers by speaking their language and understanding their needs. Give them benefits and they will give you business.
I am so absolutely grateful to be posting my first article on my NEW BLOG!!!!! Thank you all for your patience as we work towards making this community as hospitable and educational as possible. It has been a long and rewarding day, one filled with challenges and success. With that said, I am feeling a bit riled up at the moment and it is going to lead to quite a post!
This post and the two that follow it on pipeline development are going to utterly irritate the philosophers of the old world. However, one budding friend and esteemed colleague, Colin Wilson of First Border, will support most if not all of what I say. What I am going to start with, IS HOW AMERICAN BUSINESS PROFFESSIONALS FORECAST IS BULL HOOEY!!!!That’s right BULL HOOEY! How on earth can someone gauge that there is a 50% chance of this coming in, and a 60% chance of that coming in. It is not efficient, and makes pipeline development a form of alchemy instead of the honed craft it should be.
It is unfortunate that we have become mired as a sales society into these algorithms of conjecture, for they cost us TIME, MONEY, AND SALES!!!So what is my issue with these percentages based forecasts? For starters, it forces sales reps to hide deals or over exaggerate their goals to please management. If places the burden of understanding who the optimist is and who the pessimist is on the sales manager, and forces the Directors and VP’s to sweat bullets as they present their voodoo numbers to the executive staff. It also has a habit of costing an otherwise fine CEO his job.
So right now, many of you are probably staring at the screen and thinking, OK then if not percentage based forecasts, then what? How about we just put the deals that are going to close where they belong and look at that from top to bottom?There are several tools for making this happen.
First, download Focus from Colin Wilson’s website:
This is a trial version, and if you get the hang of it, you will see the value. I am going to go into greater depths on how to maximize the value of a simple process like Colin’s tool Focus in my next post, after you have had a chance to play with it a bit. For now I will just state that it breaks the pipeline into two very real sections of opportunity development.
With this simple design and review process, your management team can see what is viable and what you cannot promise is going to happen. What a major load off for the powers that be. Now I have to warn you, and will try to supply the meds in the next post, but this is going to cause a major sickness as you break the habits of your old ways. Here is what you are going to have to do:
We will go deep into these plans in the next couple of posts, but for now I have one more serious suggestion:Look at your pipeline as your commission calculator, another place Colin and I agree. Budget your life according to your pipeline. If you have a partner, include them in your pipeline analysis. If you base your wages on what you are telling management and your partner you are going to accomplish, you will either hit very close to the mark, or have hell at home and work. One way or another you will adapt.