IF YOU ENJOY THESE ARTICLES, PLEASE SHARE THEM ON LINKEDIN AND TWITTER AND WITH YOUR COLLEAGUES (AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO SUBSCRIBE)

SELL THE DIFFERENCE: Establishing your Unique Solution Value

Closing the gap between your best sales people and the rest

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 22-Nov-2016

Most sales organisations of any significant size suffer from a significant gap between their best and worst performers. If we exclude recent hires from the analysis, sales people typically fall into one of three clusters:

A minority of the sales organisation - rarely more than 20% - are habitual over-performers. A larger number - often 30% or more - are habitual under-performers, with many displaying little evidence that they have the aptitude to improve.

After excluding these outliers, the majority of sales people sit somewhere in the middle: there is some indication that they have the potential to do better, but they have so far failed to consistently and reliably over-perform against their targets.

The middle ground represents a huge opportunity for performance improvement - so what can sales leaders do to narrow this gap between the best and the rest?

Read More

10 Tell-Tale Signs Your Sales Process Needs Attention

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 16-Nov-2016

When asked, most sales organisations will claim to have a sales process. But there's a huge difference between having a loosely defined process that sales people give lip service to and having a highly effective and widely adopted sales process that is really driving sales performance.

The difference between the best and the rest, according to researchers from the Harvard Business Review, translates into an average 18% advantage in revenue growth. Other studies (including our own experiences) suggest even more dramatic benefits.

So how can you tell whether your current sales process needs attention?

Read More

10 Ways to Improve Sales Prospecting and Pipeline Management

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 27-Oct-2016

I was delighted to be recently offered the opportunity to contribute to KiteDesk’s Sales Expert Interview series. Eric Quanstrom came up with 10 excellent questions that really got to the heart of the challenges many sales organisations face in sales prospecting and pipeline management.

We covered a range of topics, including the most common reasons for inconsistent revenue performance, and most common reasons sales people give for not prospecting. I hope that you might find my responses interesting, so I’m republishing the entire interview here…

Read More

Bridging the sales performance gap

Posted by Bob Apollo on Wed 28-Sep-2016

In the majority of sales organisations, a high percentage of sales revenue is generated by the same minority of top sales performers, quarter after quarter. According to research published by the CEB in “The Challenger Sale”, this performance gap between top sales people and the rest is amplified in complex, high value sales environments.

They found that in a transactional selling environment, the performance gap between average and star performers was 59 percent - but in complex sales environments the gap was almost 200 percent - more than three times as wide. It’s clear that even a modest narrowing of this gap could drive a dramatic improvement in revenue.

The natural response from many sales leaders who are faced with this situation is to resolve to hire smarter next time, or to invest in sales training - but neither strategy seems to have a particularly good track record. When it comes to recruitment, it seems that there simply aren’t enough natural high performers to go around...

Read More

Aligning our sales process with our prospect’s buying journeys

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 1-Sep-2016

In complex sales environments, the role of the successful salesperson isn’t just about prospecting, qualifying and closing. In fact, the most effective sales people are the ones who manage to successfully facilitate complex buying decision processes that involve multiple stakeholders.

And yet the sales pipeline stages in the majority of CRM implementations are still defined with reference to the completion of a linear sequence of sales activities such as “qualifying”, “demonstrating” and “proposing” that usually bear little relationship to the true state of the prospect’s often-complex buying journey, or the likelihood they will either do anything or choose your solution.

It’s no wonder that so many sales pipeline valuations are wildly optimistic, or that sales forecasts often remain stubbornly inaccurate, with “current quarter commit” deals that turn out to be nothing of the sort. If you recognise, or even suspect that you have a problem in these areas, it’s time to take action.

Read More

Are your sales athletes rocks or sponges?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Mon 22-Aug-2016

With the Rio Olympics drawing to a close and with some remarkable individual and team performances still fresh in our memories, this is perhaps an appropriate moment to reflect on what sales people and sales organisations can learn from the world’s top sportspeople.

There’s no doubt that the profession of selling could be improved by embracing ideas like the accumulation of marginal gains and a focus on “controlling the controllables” - both subjects I plan to return to in the coming weeks.

But I wanted to initiate this train of thought by drawing upon a concept that I learned from Sir Clive Woodward - coach of the England 2003 Rugby World Cup winning team and Director of Sport for the British Olympic Association in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympics…

Read More

The Essential RFP Checklist

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 12-Jul-2016

It’s becoming increasingly common for organisations to issue formal RFPs as part of their buying decision process. In most public sector establishments and in many large commercial operations, external legislation or internal procedures require that a formalised RFP process be followed for all purchases above a certain value.

However, it’s rare that all vendors who are invited to participate have an equal chance of winning. A range of studies have show that organisations that receive an invitation to respond to an unexpected RFP have on average a low single digit % chance of winning.

A huge amount of effort is therefore wasted every year by vendors who are flattered to be invited, believe they have a good solution fit and therefore decide to bid even though by any rational analysis the odds are heavily stacked against them. If you’ve ever experienced this situation, I’d like to offer a consolidated checklist of the things you need to consider before deciding whether to bid…

Read More

How will Brexit affect sales strategies and tactics in the UK?

Posted by Bob Apollo on Sun 3-Jul-2016

It doesn’t matter which way any of us voted as individuals: the nation has spoken, and impact of the decision to Brexit will inevitably affect anyone who sells for a living in the UK - and any global organisation with a sales presence in the UK.

We’re entering uncertain times, and I suspect that there is going to be a huge difference between sales people and organisation that adapt their sales strategies and tactics to the new realities and the remainder (no pun intended) who carry on as before in the hope that buyer behaviours won’t have changed very much…

Read More

Why sales leaders need to focus on outcomes, not activities

Posted by Bob Apollo on Tue 21-Jun-2016

I’ve been seeing a lot of attention paid recently to activity-based sales management. Put simply, it’s the principle that sales managers need to give their sales people targets for measurable activity levels such as the number of calls made, meetings arranged or demos given.

The theory is that the more activity sales people undertake, the more likely they are to be successful, and there may be indeed be some correlation between activity and results in high volume transactional sales environments. But the relationship is nowhere near as clear in complex B2B sales environments, and an obsessive focus on activity levels can end up driving entirely the wrong behaviour…

Read More

Neil Rackham reveals the changing face of selling (and updates "SPIN")

Posted by Bob Apollo on Thu 16-Jun-2016

The recent Association of Professional Sales conference in London brought together over 500 delegates with a single shared obsession: to learn how to transform our sales organisations into a source of lasting competitive advantage.

We heard from expert authors and roll-our-sleeves-up practitioners, and everyone emerged with a stream of practical ideas that could be immediately applied to the goal of finding and winning more of the right sort of customers.

I was intrigued to hear Neil Rackham’s update on SPIN® selling, in which he showed how what is probably the world’s most widely adopted complex sales methodology remains highly relevant in today’s demanding sales environment…

Read More