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INSIDE SALES ENTREPRENEUR, CO-FOUNDER OF INSIDESALES.COM.
TIPS, RESEARCH, AND BEST PRACTICES FOR SELLING REMOTELY

Why Waiting Until the Last Minute is the New Best Practice


How many times have you heard, “Plan ahead, don’t wait until the last minute!”

There is mounting evidence that only the first half of that advice is still a hard and fast rule.

In some situations, waiting until the last minute may be the best thing you can do.

We are putting on the world’s largest online sales trade show called the Inside Sales Virtual Summit with only 3 weeks to invite people. And we think we will break the world’s record!

A book I like by Kaihan Krippendorf tells us to “Outthink the Competition: How a New Generation of Strategists See Options Others Ignore” (more…)

Harvard Business Review says Sales is No Longer About Relationships


A very interesting article by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, both of the Sales Executive Council, show recent research that selling is not just about relationships, but rather about teaching customers, tailoring sales messages to the customer, and taking control of the sale.

I have been following the Harvard Business Review (HBR) since the time we did research in conjunction with them in the March 2011 issue entitled The Short Life of Online Leads.

The Sales Executive Council did a global study in 2008 involving more than 6000 B2B sales reps from nearly 100 companies in many industries.

They classified these sales professionals into five profiles:

1- Relationship Builders: who focus on building strong personal and professional relationships.

2- Hard Workers: come early, stay late, make more calls, make more visits, and go the extra effort mile.

3- Lone Wolves: are very self confident and may break rules by doing things their way or not at all.

4- Reactive Problem Solvers: are customer-centric by being reliable and detail-oriented with strong follow-up and well executed implementation.

5- Challengers: understand their customers’ businesses to push their thinking and drive the entire sales conversation with themselves in control. They are not afraid to assert even controversial views with customers and bosses.

These five profiles are almost evenly distributed among typical salespeople, but only one stands out for performance… The Challenger.

In fact, the Challenger makes up 40% of the high performers.

What makes them different?

1- They teach their customers. They focus their sales conversation not so much on features and benefits but on providing unique insight on the customers business with new ideas to make and save money. They help customers see things they didn’t know existed!

2- They tailor their sales message to the customers needs. They are deeply tuned in to the objectives and value drivers of the customer and position their sales pitch to each different stakeholder within a customers organization.

3- They take control of the sale. They are assertive, not overly aggressive, but comfortable with tension and rarely give in to a customer who doesn’t know their solution like they do. They can press customers to make a decision, even on price.

If the Challenger is the winner, who is the loser?

The Relationship Builder. In fact, they account for only 7% of high performers in standard sales situations.

Why?

The data seems to say that relationships have changed. Challengers push for better decisions, while Relationship Builders give in when the customers push back to preserve what they think are relationships. They are likable and generous, not competent and valuable.

The study goes deeper, Challengers dominate the world of complex solution selling by making up 54% of the stars, while only 4% of Relationship Builders make up the stars in more complex sales.

Restated, Challengers win because they have mastered the complex sale. This fact is extremely valuable when considering the future. With a down economy, this looks like an even more valuable trait. In other words, the Challenger looks to be the profile skill most desired for sales results well into the future.

Wow, lots of things are changing, BANT, relationship selling, what next?

Click here to see if you are considered a Challenger or to see a graphical summary of how the Challenger stacks up against the other profiles.

I’m looking forward to their new book “The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation” which goes on sale at Amazon on Nov 10, 2011

 

Top 30 Articles on www.KenKrogue.com (with total views) and a Summary of Ken’s Forbes Articles

  1. What is Inside Sales? Our Definition of Inside Sales | Ken Krogue – 56,369 Views
  2. Inside Sales Best Practices – 9,281 Views
  3. Inside Sales Tips by Ken Krogue – 5,488 Views
  4. My Final Comment on my “Death of SEO” column on Forbes – 6,411 Views
  5. 31 Linkedin tips – How-to-use-Linkedin-Best-Practices for B2B Prospecting – 5,680 Views
  6. Prediction – SEO will be Dead in 2 Years – 3,976 Views
  7. KPI – Key Performance Indicators – 2,285 Views
  8. Inside Sales versus Outside Sales – 2,226 Views
  9. Is Leaving a Voicemail Worthwhile? – 2,100 Views
  10. Inside Sales Tips – How LinkedIn Gives you 3 Free SEO Backlinks - 3,057 Views
  11. About Ken Krogue – 1,943 Views
  12. Inside Sales is Top Method of Lead Generation – 1,074 Views
  13. Inside Sales Training – 1,888 Views
  14. Good to Great by Jim Collins – Ken’s Notes Summary – 1,526
  15. Inside Sales Tips – Skip to the Beep – 1,392 Views
  16. Inside Sales Best Practices: 7 Ways to Increase Contact Ratios – 1,360
  17. Climb the Trust Ladder to Increase Results in Prospecting – W/ VIDEO! – 1,339 Views
  18. Harvard Business Review says Sales is No Longer About Relationships – 1,148 Views
  19. Inside Sales Tips – No Vacations Last Week of the Month – 1,140 Views
  20. Lead Generation Strategies: When to Call, When Not to Call? – 1,049 Views
  21. Inside Sales Tips – Specialize – 998 Views
  22. Inside Sales Tips – Interest is The Counterfeit of Need – 898 Views
  23. Behind the Cloud – Ken’s Notes – 877 Views
  24. 6 Reasons Salesforce Users Need Hosted Dialer Technology - 856 Views
  25. Demand Generation Tactics and Strategy – 689 Views
  26. Power Dialers – 665 Views
  27. Inside Sales Best Practices: Gathering Direct Dial Phone Numbers – 601
  28. What is Lead Response Management – 573 Views
  29. Ken’s Rules: The Business Card Rule – 430 Views
  30. Josh James Shares 36 Startup Rules – 399 Views

A Complete Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes Articles, Including his newly updated “Definition of Inside Sales” and his #1 on all of Forbes (and his most controversial) article “The Death of SEO

Author: Ken Krogue | 
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

High Performance Sales: The First 5, the Last 5, and Everything In Between


It’s a tough pill for new and inexperienced sales reps to swallow, but it’s absolutely true: it’s just as easy to lose a deal on the last five percent of the journey as it is on the first five.

High performance sales reps know you can get a deal 95% right—and still leave a customer highly dissatisfied.

A co-worker related an experience last week that proves this point in absolute clarity. Apparently he had gone in to get a new pair of eyeglasses from a local retailer, and 9/10 of the experience was unaccountably pleasant. Service was prompt and efficient, the optometrist demonstrated a high level of competence, and the business carried a quality selection of frames and lenses. He chose a style of frame that suited him, the order was placed, and it arrived a day ahead of schedule.

So far, so good.

Except when the lenses and frames arrived, the lens makers had sent the wrong size (for this business, the frames and lenses were generally ordered separately and assembled on location).

At this point, the company had two choices:

  1. Fix the problem by re-ordering the right lenses, even though it meant the customer wouldn’t get their glasses for another week.
  2. Try to grind/reshape the lenses on-premise, and/or jury-rig the frames to make them fit.

Not a great situation, but eminently fix-able. Depending on what the customer wanted, either could potentially be a long-term win for the customer and the business.

Unfortunately, the rep didn’t even bother to ask.

Maybe she was trying to avoid a “customer service disaster” by “making the customer happy.” Maybe it was because it was late, and the rep just wanted to go home and not have to deal with the problem. Or maybe it was just “too inconvenient” to re-order the lenses. But for whatever reason, and without any input from the customer, the rep chose Option #2.

Strike 1: Not asking the customer what they wanted.

Unfortunately, Strike 1 was immediately followed up with Strike 2: She didn’t even get it right.

The rep took the lenses into a back room and started grinding around the edges. Then without even giving my co-worker the “right of denial,” she took a pair of needle-nose pliers to his brand new, never-been-worn, $300 Titanium flex frames and started bending and twisting. When the lenses still wouldn’t fit, she went back and did some more grinding. Then a third time.

Finally, she ended up taking a set of screws that weren’t even the right size for the frames, shoved the lenses into the sockets, forced the screws through, and snipped off the screw ends.

By now small scuff marks had appeared along the joints of the frames, the screws were visibly misaligned, and the ear pieces of the frame were now running slightly but noticeably askew (he showed me the glasses himself).

The service rep handed the glasses back with a smile and a happy “Here you go,” absolutely certain that she had just made herself into a customer service superstar by “fixing the customer’s problem.”

Never mind that my co-worker friend would have been more than happy to wait the extra 5-7 days to get the right set of lenses. Never mind that the rep’s “exemplary service” had subtly changed the basic shape of the frames so that they no longer felt like the demo pair that had won him over in the first place.

Why he didn’t immediately protest, I don’t know. “I didn’t want to cause a scene,” he told me. “I thought, Well, everything up to this point has been great, so I guess I’m willing to cut them a little slack. And it’s not like the glasses are unwearable, or anything, it’s just that I should have been given the choice. If the entire process up to that point hadn’t been absolutely stellar, I probably would’ve demanded an exchange for a new set of frames and lenses, but as it stands, I’m definitely not going to go back, or recommending them.”

I should have been given the choice.

The morals of the story:

  1. Never, ever assume you know what the customer needs. Ask them. Then when they tell you, ask again until you really know.
  2. Remember: you can lose a customer’s trust—and consequently their future business— at the “11th hour” just as easily as on Day 1.

There’s an old saying, “Hoe to the end of the row,” which a lot of people assume means that you need to stay longer, keep working after everyone else has left.

But it also means never cutting corners, sacrificing quality for convenience, and it especially means never assuming “It’s what the customer wants.”

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

A Sales Management Tip “Two-for” Tuesday


Two quick hits on some stuff I found interesting:

I.

Craig Rosenberg is generally a pretty smart and insightful guy. As the self-proclaimed “Funnelholic” and Focus.com VP of Products and Services, his extensive background in B2B sales and marketing gives his voice some weight in our space.

So when Craig (@funnelholic on Twitter) recently posted that “Being a B2B buyer sucks,” I snapped to attention.

All four of his points were excellent, so read the article, but I was particularly taken by Point #4:

The ‘contact us’ box sucks. I see that, and I just think black hole. The dropdown you provide doesn’t make me feel like I am going to go in the right direction. When you walk into a good store, someone asks, ‘How can I help you today?’ How about taking that methodology to the ‘front door’ of your buying process?”

Craig, you have no idea how true that is–and the Harvard Business Review proved it.

According to the HBR article, 26% of all online “Contact Us” Web form requests go completely unanswered (our own internal studies show the number can range from 25% to as high 40%). It’s as if the business believes you don’t exist.

Another 25% wait over 24 hours to get back with you, the real-world equivalent of walking into Nordstrom’s and having the cashier tell you, “Come back tomorrow when we feel like talking to you.” Another 6% wait between 12 and 24 hours to contact you.

Is it just me, or is the ridiculousness of this state of affairs beyond description?

Everyone—and I mean, EVERYONE—talks about paying more attention to the customer, treating clients and prospects like gold, because they’re getting harder win and keep. Yet if you’re the average company, nearly 60% of direct Web-generated inquiries—people who come to YOUR Web site and specifically ask to be contacted—have to wait at least 12 hours to hear back from you, assuming you get back to them at all.

I know I beat this nearly-dead horse on a regular basis. But for some odd reason, I keep finding opportunities to address the issue (wonder why).

II.

Loved this quote from Kevin Davis in his article, “Are You Selling Too Fast?” over on the American Express Open Forum:

I’ve been delivering sales seminars for 20+ years. When I ask salespeople to tell me how they sell, they rattle off the steps of their sales process. When I ask how their customers buy, they are stumped.

This disconnect between selling and buying is the root cause of many sales problems.”

It’s easy to park our rear ends in our office chairs and plot our pipelines for the month—but we’re not really thinking about what the prospect is going through to make their buying decision.

The best sales reps know how to get into the customer’s buying cycle, and engage with how the prospect’s decision will be made, not how the product will be delivered.

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

B2B Technology Sales Tip – What’s Your 2nd (or 3rd) “Pitch?”


Sales Tip - What's your 2nd pitch? Courtesy of Schyler / Wikimedia Commons CC3You and your company have done everything right up to this point.

The marketing team created a compelling, targeted set of material that caught the attention of a potential buyer. They found your Web site and grabbed some information—a couple of white papers and a pricing list.

You followed up on the new lead quickly and effectively, using good lead management and nurturing tactics to make contact.

You feel like you’ve done your homework. You feel you understand their position in their industry. You’ve done a deep needs analysis, and feel you have a common ground with the prospect on how to address their pain. You get your best collateral and presentation material, tailored to the information you already have.

You wind up and give them your best 95-mile-an-hour fastball, the pitch that’s worked for you so many times in the past.

Yet contrary to evidence, against every sign you’ve seen to this point, you’re met with looks of confusion, or even worse, apathy.

The prospect doesn’t get it, or worse, doesn’t seem to care.

Now what do you do?

In baseball, the difference between a run-of-the-mill pitcher and an All-Star is rarely their “first pitch.” In the Big Leagues (and we’re assuming that’s where you want to be), everybody has a 90+ mile-per-hour fastball—but the best pitchers have a 2nd, a 3rd, sometimes even a 4th pitch that they can command.

While there are occasional exceptions to the rule (see Mariano Rivera and his un-duplicate-able cut fastball), in most cases the best pitchers win because when their primary pitch isn’t working, Plan B isn’t crossing their fingers and hoping for the best.

Sales is no different.

When your initial, carefully-prepped pitch is a “miss,” the answer is almost never to keep “winding up” and tossing something out there.

Stop, and figure out what happened.

Typically it’s one of three things:

  • You’re not actually a contender and you didn’t know it.
  • You’re in the dark about something going on inside the prospect’s company.
  • You’re talking to the wrong people for the value prop you’ve presented.

If you’re just a “sounding board” for a competitor’s RFP and they’ve already locked in to another vendor, stop wasting your time and move on. Maybe the prospect just realized that your solution will require an entire technology platform overhaul—one they had no intention of making. Maybe your solution forces them to change a licensing situation with another vendor, and they don’t want to upset their current arrangement.

If you really are in contention, then clearly something has changed. There’s a management “realignment” on the horizon and your product/service is in the line of fire. A relocation is about to happen. A key budget or cashflow problem has reared its head.

Regardless, the solution is the same: dig back in. Who’s really in charge now, and who’s really going to make the decision?

Gather data, re-set your presentation, toe the rubber, and fire again.

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

Looking Backwards and Forwards From 2011: Predictive Sales Intelligence Will Redefine CRM and the Sales Process


One of the problems we all have with technology is that we soon forget that what is now commonplace was once rare or non-existent.

New technologies penetrate the market so rapidly that total market transformations can occur in the space of under three years (and some might say even less).

It’s barely been a decade since the Y2K scare and the Dot Com crash. Widespread broadband Internet access hasn’t been a reality since 2003 (and some could even argue since 2005). Smart phones, text messaging, YouTube, SmugMug and Flickr, convergence of mobile audio and telecom, “apps” getting added to the mainstream lexicon . . . all recent developments. 4G network access right through your telecom provider? Check. Streaming HD? Check.

Many businesses and universities barely got their WIRED infrastructures in place by the early 2000s. Now being forced to “plug in” to a network with an actual wire seems almost archaic.

But the real point of all of this is that we have to be careful not to look past the mark with our old sales and marketing standby, CRM.

Hosted CRM seemed revolutionary 10 years ago. Now it’s simply considered the norm for applications of its type. Fluid, mobile, always-on, cross-platform, multi-device ready, “The Cloud” is becoming exactly what industry giants like Mark Benioff of salesforce.com believed it could be.

But as the nature of professional sales has evolved, so too has the need for CRM to evolve with it. “Naked” CRM–i.e., a self-contained CRM application just for use by the sales team–is now just the beginning, not the grand end of sales and marketing intelligence.

InsideView proves that the value of social media increases exponentially when it can be applied directly to the sales/buying cycle. Marketing automation solutions like Eloqua manage opt-ins and content, all directly linked back to lead generation and sales acquisition costs. Dialer tools like the PowerDialer for Salesforce manage and predict call cycles for lead generation, pushing the highest-quality leads and data to the reps right when they need it.

All of this is designed for a single purpose–to close the gap from “old” sales to new. Getting attention through marketing channels is harder than ever. So when a company finally does “get some love” from a prospect, the tools have to be in place to make every opportunity count, to have the highest chance to contact and close the deal.

While I don’t totally agree with InsideView that cold calling is “bottom of the barrel,” the shifting sands of demand generation and sales intelligence in 2011 means that true “cold” calling will almost be a misnomer in the future. Our ability to “predict” who and when to call, what to say when we do, and the value proposition a prospect will most readily respond to will ever increase as the sophistication of the tools we use increases with it.

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

Demand Generation, Tactics and Strategy, and Business Intelligence


Tuesday evening at Dreamforce, I got into an interesting Twitter conversation with Left Brain Marketing’s Adam Needles (@abneedles on Twitter) discussing marketing’s relationship with sales.

In Adam’s mind, he felt that the presenters of the Sales/Marketing alignment session were pushing marketing back into a sales support role, one that he felt didn’t align with the purpose of today’s Sales 2.0 demand generation strategies.

I’ve never met Adam in person, but having read some of his writing at Silverpop, Left Brain Marketing, and on his own personal blog Propelling Brands, he has always produced insightful, thought-provoking content related to B2B demand generation. Thus, I was intrigued by his conviction that marketing and demand gen were not “sales support,” but a holistic, integrated set of processes that speed and maximize business development.

In stark contrast to Adam’s ideas is an article I read several weeks ago from BNet’s “Sales Machine” blog. In it author Geoffrey James forcibly decries what he sees as one of the biggest failures of marketing departments — that they “turned from service functions into a ‘strategic leadership’ role.”

James goes on, “Marketing geeks started showing up in product design meetings, pretending that they understood the customer . . . The problem isn’t that two co-equal groups [sales and marketing] need to work together. The problem is that marketing got uppity and forgot its place.”

Hmm, so which is it? Marketing and demand gen as a strategic, holistic business practice? Or a subservient lackey to the sales team’s needs and imperatives?

As Adam stated in one of his tweets, “In a Web 2.0 world, #B2B marketing must become the leader of a holistic demand gen process — not just tactical lead gen.” Ideally marketing is about producing “closable” leads, but it’s also about branding, educating potential buyers, creating valuable content, and generating “thought leadership” in the market — all of which ultimately produces better quality leads in the future.

That said, having straddled the sales and marketing “Great Divide” for nearly six years now, Geoffrey James’ words carried some weight with me. Too often marketers get away with living in a “measurement vacuum,” and the C-level doesn’t hold them to the same level of hard metrics as sales. Marketers want to be “creatives,” with all of the associated “freedom,” without being tied down to “mundane” lead qualification rates and cost-per-acquisition.

Yet Adam’s vision of what could be ultimately seems to be the best long-term strategy. If marketing and sales need to align, it’s precisely because of Geoffrey’s point. Sales reps can no longer chase after marketing-generated “rainbow sunshine”; they have to maximize every lead they get, every minute of time they have. If marketing isn’t producing quality leads, sales reps don’t have the luxury of throwing good effort after bad, especially now. And a good demand gen strategy, based on quality sales intelligence, analytics, and processes, will absolutely provide more and better opportunities.

More than anything, the question boils down to, Who has the final say in what marketing should be doing? The CMO, or the VP of Sales?

“Subservient” might be too strong of a word, but I do think that ultimately if marketing isn’t producing quality leads for the sales team, it’s sales’ job to get the course corrected. When it’s all said and done, the buck stops in sales, not marketing.

 

Top 30 Articles on www.KenKrogue.com (with total views) and a Summary of Ken’s Forbes Articles

  1. What is Inside Sales? Our Definition of Inside Sales | Ken Krogue – 56,369 Views
  2. Inside Sales Best Practices – 9,281 Views
  3. Inside Sales Tips by Ken Krogue – 5,488 Views
  4. My Final Comment on my “Death of SEO” column on Forbes – 6,411 Views
  5. 31 Linkedin tips – How-to-use-Linkedin-Best-Practices for B2B Prospecting – 5,680 Views
  6. Prediction – SEO will be Dead in 2 Years – 3,976 Views
  7. KPI – Key Performance Indicators – 2,285 Views
  8. Inside Sales versus Outside Sales – 2,226 Views
  9. Is Leaving a Voicemail Worthwhile? – 2,100 Views
  10. Inside Sales Tips – How LinkedIn Gives you 3 Free SEO Backlinks - 3,057 Views
  11. About Ken Krogue – 1,943 Views
  12. Inside Sales is Top Method of Lead Generation – 1,074 Views
  13. Inside Sales Training – 1,888 Views
  14. Good to Great by Jim Collins – Ken’s Notes Summary – 1,526
  15. Inside Sales Tips – Skip to the Beep – 1,392 Views
  16. Inside Sales Best Practices: 7 Ways to Increase Contact Ratios – 1,360
  17. Climb the Trust Ladder to Increase Results in Prospecting – W/ VIDEO! – 1,339 Views
  18. Harvard Business Review says Sales is No Longer About Relationships – 1,148 Views
  19. Inside Sales Tips – No Vacations Last Week of the Month – 1,140 Views
  20. Lead Generation Strategies: When to Call, When Not to Call? – 1,049 Views
  21. Inside Sales Tips – Specialize – 998 Views
  22. Inside Sales Tips – Interest is The Counterfeit of Need – 898 Views
  23. Behind the Cloud – Ken’s Notes – 877 Views
  24. 6 Reasons Salesforce Users Need Hosted Dialer Technology - 856 Views
  25. Demand Generation Tactics and Strategy – 689 Views
  26. Power Dialers – 665 Views
  27. Inside Sales Best Practices: Gathering Direct Dial Phone Numbers – 601
  28. What is Lead Response Management – 573 Views
  29. Ken’s Rules: The Business Card Rule – 430 Views
  30. Josh James Shares 36 Startup Rules – 399 Views

A Complete Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes Articles, Including his newly updated “Definition of Inside Sales” and his #1 on all of Forbes (and his most controversial) article “The Death of SEO

Author: Ken Krogue | 
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

Dreamforce Day 2 – A Keynote Recap


My biggest takehome from yesterday’s Dreamforce Keynote by Mark Benioff wasn’t the power of the Cloud, Mark’s personality, or the evolution of the salesforce.com platform (though it’s interesting to follow the continued expansion away from purely sales-oriented “stuff” to a broader host of applications).

It was the realization that the move to cloud computing as a mainstream service highlights a very real concern for such systems: the need to carefully control and streamline the data itself.

In the old days, computers were largely personal in nature—we used them at home, with our own software all the time, we rarely moved data from one computer to another (where have you gone, oh great floppy diskettes?).

As a result, our own schemes for managing and organizing data were mostly of our own personal preferences.

And now computers are no longer our own.

They’re our companies’ systems. Our spouse’s. Our neighbors’ in cyberspace. Our data is now part of a corporate network, a critical application database, a Web forum, our social media sites.

Sales intelligence and predictive analysis systems only work if the data they’re using have a basis in accurate reality. We’re increasingly going to have to learn to break some bad data management habits, especially as the future of cloud computing goes forward.

Based on the announcement of the Database.com platform, it’s clear that we’re still suffering from the shock of waking up to discover that our computer systems are no longer personal and individual, but communal—and taking care of our data in a communal space is a whole lot different than doing it when it’s just us and a couple of 5 ¼” floppies.

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

Analytics, CRM, and “Sales Prevention”


Ran into a great blog by Bob Apollo (@bobapollo on Twitter) on the Inflexion-Point Blog this morning that really got my wheels turning, entitled “Is your CRM system a sales prevention system?”

Since one of my company’s biggest products is a lead management CRM, I was intrigued by Bob’s five “danger signs” that a company’s CRM “is actually behaving as a sales prevention system:”

  1. Unhelpful Stage Definitions
  2. Give – Get Imbalance
  3. Poor Forecast Accuracy
  4. Static Sales Process
  5. Failure to Reflect Prospect Decision Making Process

Items 2 and 3 particularly resonated.

• Give–Get Imbalance

If data input to the CRM is not not being used to give reps feedback, it simply falls into a “black hole,” Bob states, “with no evidence it is ever subsequently used by management for any practical purpose. Sales people need to believe that the information they enter is used by management to help them improve their chances of winning.”

Bob is absolutely correct, and this is generally more of a process problem than a data problem. My experience is that companies that waste time entering a lot of data into their sales intelligence systems do so because they don’t have a specific process for defining wins and losses–so reps feel compelled to enter anything and everything they think is going to help them.

Fix the process–identify key sales staging points that align to the customer, not the seller, then configure the CRM software to make data input direct and as easy as possible. I regularly see clients go through crazy finaglings to create some “essential data view” that their CRM system would support natively—if they knew how to use the system’s report engine properly, and then aligned their processes to leverage it.

• Poor Forecast Accuracy

Here Bob points out that according to CSO Insights, sales forecast accuracy for most companies hovers right around 50%, and that “Even if the projected headline revenue number is achieved, the way in which the number is made up bears little relationship to the deal by deal forecasts, and relies on heroic selling rather than intelligent use of resources.”

Sales metrics gurus The Bridge Group have repeatedly stated that a forecast should be 90% accurate in terms of both time frame and dollar value–and in my opinion, forecasts that don’t reach that level of accuracy aren’t much better than licking your finger and sticking it into the wind.

Accurate forecasting requires a process based on how the customer buys, not on the rep’s sales process. Revenues and time frames aren’t about telling the sales manager “how close” the rep thinks the deal is to going final—it’s about what’s actually going on inside the prospect’s “box.”

Author: Ken Krogue |
Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

Better Sales Performance Means “Moving the Chains”


Moving the Chains - Better Sales performance By DoubleBlue (Own work)[see page for license], via Wikimedia CommonsAs a football coach for a city league team of 13-year-olds, I came across a very interesting statistic over the weekend.

Want to know what the difference between success and failure in the NFL?

It’s one yard.

It’s the difference between having a 2nd down and 5, versus 2nd down and 6.

An NFL offense that can average 5 yards on 1st down instead of 4 converts nearly 30 percent more 1st downs.

The same principle applies in baseball.

To bat .300 (the statistical “All-Star” gold standard), a player has to get 180 hits in 600 at-bats.

The difference between hitting .300 and .250 in 600 plate appearances? 30 hits, or 1 additional hit every 20 at bats.

That’s it.

A five percent increase in base hits a year is the difference between being an All-Star (and getting paid like one) and run-of-the-mill.

So what’s the big “So what?” here?

Mostly that I don’t think the majority of us plan our sales pipelines around prospects walking up and saying, “I need what you have, where is it and how soon can I get it?”

If you’re one of the lucky sales reps who gets leads that are always qualified and ready to buy, more power to you, but I know for most of us, sales aren’t 80-yard touchdowns or “home runs.” They’re a consistent process of “moving the chains,” controlling down and distance, and setting ourselves up for success.

Hitting singles, moving baserunners, and setting up RBI opportunities.

Too many reps go into their next phone call, their next email, their next conversation not really knowing what they want the outcome to actually be—so it’s not for lack of reason that noted sales evangelist Paul Castain preaches using a “sales playbook.” A playbook teaches a rep how to make the “right call” for the right “down and distance,” and to make progress with every “touch.”

If it feels like you’re constantly facing “3rd and long” situations in sales, go back and look at your strategy and playbook–for every down and distance. Occasionally you’ll convert a “3rd-and-13″ type of prospect out of sheer luck, persistence, or both. But good “down and distance” means running the right “plays” to have productive first and second downs–and not having to sweat the pressure of converting a “3rd and long.”

Top 20 Articles on www.KenKrogue.com

  1. What is Inside Sales? Our Definition of Inside Sales – 15,262 Views
  2. Inside Sales Best Practices – 1,445 Views
  3. Inside Sales Tips by Ken Krogue – 923 Views
  4. KPI – Key Performance Indicators – 822 Views
  5. Inside Sales versus Outside Sales – 489 Views
  6. Is Leaving a Voicemail Worthwhile? – 408 Views
  7. 6 Reasons Salesforce Users Need Hosted Dialer Technology - 370 Views
  8. Behind the Cloud – Ken’s Notes – 305 Views
  9. Inside Sales Tips – No Vacations Last Week of the Month – 275 Views
  10. Funny Inside Sales Videos – 247 Views
  11. Demand Generation Tactics and Strategy – 245 Views
  12. Inside Sales Tips – Skip to the Beep – 245 Views
  13. Inside Sales Tips – Interest is The Counterfeit of Need – 220 Views
  14. Inside Sales is Top Method of Lead Generation – 205 Views
  15. Inside Sales Tips – How LinkedIn Gives you 3 Free SEO Backlinks - 189 Views
  16. Inside Sales Training – 179 Views
  17. Marketing B2B 4 Quick Email Tips – 154 Views
  18. Inside Sales Tips – Specialize – 140 Views
  19. Leadscon East Vendors Need to Drink their Own Medicine - 133 Views
  20. What is Lead Response Management – 127 Views

    Author: Ken Krogue |
    Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles