Why Sales Organizations Need to Invest in Customer Success

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By Miller Heiman Group | Future of Sales Success

MHG Why Sales Organizations Need to Invest in Customer Success EZINEAlmost half of organizations report having a weak relationship between their sales and customer success teams; and a third report that service plays no role in generating sales. These statistics are often ignored in a booming economy, but start to resurface when economic conditions weaken. When bringing more clients to the top of the funnel becomes harder, maintaining and growing current customers’ relationships is a sales management best practice and a key to recession readiness.

Investing in a strong customer experience strategy now is crucial as more than 70% of revenues come from existing customers. For companies that have prioritized customer success, they know that service teams touch existing customers 10 times more than salespeople. Every one of those touch points builds a stronger relationship with buyers, gaining insights that translate into sales opportunities. When customer service roles have the primary responsibility for closing up-sell opportunities, organizations’ average revenue per account nearly doubles according to CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group.

Now is the time to take a look at what customer success looks like in your organization. Preparing for the unknown means diversifying your sales strategy and investing in customer success. Here’s how to get started.

1. Define the Customer Success Role
 A customer success role maybe a client advocate and customer success manager; they could help with support questions, enablement or even implementation and training.  These individuals, no matter the title or role, ensure that your customer’s experience after the sale is as stellar as it was during the sale. Given the number and quality of their interactions with clients, customer success reps are keys to gathering critical insights on customer expansion plans, internal changes and problems that need to be funneled to the sales team. Further, they help identify additional qualified leads for sales through recommendations. The key is to identify which objectives you want them to be accountable for, so you can create a development plan to build the skills necessary to achieve those goals.

2. Address the Selling Mindset
Service reps often view themselves as “white knights” becoming their customers’ trusted advisor, by building up their credibility, solving problems and providing answers to questions big and small. As a result, they may feel that selling jeopardizes their relationships, or they may just have a negative perception of selling. To overcome this mindset, re-frame selling so it is an extension of their customer service role. Help them understand that selling allows them to provide excellent service by identifying their customers’ needs and providing solutions and additional value.

3. Develop the Customer Success Team’s Selling Skills
 Not every customer success rep is a natural seller, but they can all learn the necessary competencies required. Ideally, a sales conversation is just an extension of a good service discussion. But your customer success team may need some additional coaching to ensure their exchanges are as fruitful as possible. Consider investing in courses that allow them to:

  • Have more compelling interactions—in order to better understand what the buyer tells them and what a buyer really needs
  • Exceed customer expectations that build and retain customer loyalty and navigate difficult situations
  • Manage large accounts and learn to create a long-term road map with them

4. Align Systems and Processes
World-class organizations collect and share best practices and customer experience data across their sales and service functions. But when sales and customer service functions fracture into silos, neither the sales nor the service experience is optimized for buyers. One way to start reconciling this broken relationship is to ensure all customer-facing teams use a CRM, enabling cross-departmental collaboration. When sales and customer success reps both use a CRM to track interactions across channels, it facilitates seamless hand-offs and friction-less communication with customers. When they don’t, customers often feel they are working with multiple companies rather than with one cohesive organization.

Are You Investing Enough in Your Service Teams?
In tough economic times, customer service can be the lifeline that enables an organization to thrive. Organizations with strong customer loyalty are more likely to be resilient in a recession, and given their close relationships with buyers, excel at a key metric in a down economy.

To make sure you’re future-proofing your organization, assess the alignment between your service and sales functions, and see how prepared your organization is for an economic downturn.

Posted in Customer Service, Customer Success

8 Habits of a Great Sales Manager

by Tracey Wik

Growth Play - 8 Habits of a Great Sales Manager EZINELike many new sales managers, perhaps you landed in your leadership role based on your ability to sell. You were a fantastic salesperson who constantly hit (and shattered) goals and quickly rose to the top.

You probably didn’t get your sales manager job by being a great manager. Many don’t know the first thing about sales talent management. If this is you; you’re not alone.

Fear not. You can become a great sales manager, even if you’ve never managed anyone. I’ve got you covered.

Here are the essentials of taking your sales talent management skills from good to great:

1. Knowing what motivates your sales reps
Often, new (and experienced) sales managers assume that dollars drive all their reps. While making sure your reps are paid competitively and rewarded for a job well done is important, this is only part of the motivation equation. Sit down with your reps and find out what’s driving them. Why did they get into this work? What do they love about it? What are their natural strengths?

Also, once you find out what motivates them — be it time off, recognition, compensation, knowledge, keep the conversation going because what motivates your rep today might change down the road.

2. Create teachable moments
Design moments your sales reps can learn from. You could make a joint sales call, and then stand back and let your rep do their job. They might fail, and this is okay. Let them go down that path. Hand them a low-risk situation with a client you could afford to lose. The best way to prepare your reps for a high-risk situation is to let them get their hands dirty and learn from the low-risk times.

3. Give feedback early and often
Excellent salespeople stop working so hard when their sales manager withholds the input. Sales reps need pats on the back and celebrations when they achieve their goals. By setting clear expectations and realistic goals, then offering up plenty of timely and objective feedback helps let reps know they’re appreciated and doing good work.

4. Don’t try to save them
Chances are you were once a successful sales rep — that’s what got you here. You know a thing or two about being a great sales rep, but keep in mind that what brought you success in your career is likely going to be different from your rep. You have different strengths, learning styles, and motivations. If you see them treading down a path that landed you in hot water in the past, let them work it out on their own. For one, they could very well end up with a different (and more favorable) result than you did, and you give them an opportunity to learn and grow. If you jump in and try to rescue them from failure, they could lose trust in you, and become more focused on trying to avoid defeat, rather than trying to achieve success.

5. Understand the metrics around your sale
When you were a seller, you worried about your relationships. Now that you’re a manager, you have to shift perspective to what sales activities are profitable. You’ve never had to care about profit before. You’ll need to pivot to be interested in profit to be able to understand and control the key factors in enabling your reps to make the sale while balancing the priorities. Keep in mind that your rep is focused on relationships even though you aren’t.

6. Always be building relationships
Whom you networked with when you were a sales rep was important. Now that you’re a manager it’s even more crucial to prioritize activities that have you out in the field, meeting new connections, growing your professional network and keeping frequent contact with those in your network.

7. Set a high bar
Set your bar high with your own work ethic. If you expect just as much (or more) of yourself than you do of your team, through mentoring you can help them reach their personal bests. Sales excellence means engaging every sales rep in a never-ending and ongoing improvement effort. As a new sales manager, it can be easy to implement some quick changes, and it can be challenging to keep the momentum going. You may need to get creative if it looks like you’ll miss your team’s target.

8. Continuous learning
As a sales manager, you have to be someone who’s interested in ongoing education and increasing the overall competence of your team. Demonstrate your eagerness to stay at the top of your game and model this for your people by attending training regularly. Encourage your team to invest time in training while making sure it’s possible for them. That means your job is to help remove any roadblocks to their success.

You certainly don’t have to stop with just these eight practices. Focusing on your constant improvement and integrity will help create a strong role model for your people. In environments where everyone is working to get better, everyone wins.

Posted in Sales Leadership, Sales Talent, Talent Management

Your prospect will signal you when they’re ready to buy


 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Buy_Button“Billy, pay attention!” That was your first listening lesson.
Probably delivered when you were too young to pay attention.
Fast forward 20 something years (or more) and you’re STILL not listening.

Your customer is telling you he or she is somewhere between “interested” and “ready” in your sales conversation, and you’re pressing to “overcome” some bogus objection because your focus is on “making the sale” rather than “helping the customer buy.”

All parts have one thing in common – you must be LISTENING in order to get the signals, and you must be ready to respond once you hear them.

So, here are the 21.5 buying signals and questions to look for:

  1. Questions about availability or time. Are these in stock? How often do you receive new shipments? Now let me explain something to you. There is a principle in selling, which is the principle of leaning forward. Questions make the prospect lean forward with interest to the answer that you provide. Now, when you understand these signals, you’re going to notice them all the time. Your job as a salesperson is to get the prospect to lean forward with interest. What is your normal delivery time? Whats the warranty? How much more of a buying signal could you want?
  2. Questions about delivery. How soon can someone be here? Well, when do you need it? How much notice do I have to give you? Answer their question, and at the same time ask them a question to begin confirmation of the sale.
  3. Questions about rates, price, or statements about affordability. This is a big one. How much does this cost? What is the price? I dont know if I can afford it. What they are saying is I want it! The only question is how much? So the next part of that would be…
  4. Questions or statements about money. How much money would I have to put down to get this? Or even, This costs too much. Those are huge buying signals. When someone wants to know the price, or what the terms could be or even if they are objecting to it, it means that they are interested in it.

Here’s more of the 21.5 buying signals:

  1. Asking positive questions about you or your business. You may not take them as positive, but they are. “How long have you been with the company?” is asking about you as a salesperson. Will you be here to serve me AFTER the sale. “How long has your company been in business?” They want to know about security, safety, and lower risk.
  2. Wanting something repeated. “What was it that you said before about financing?” “Tell me about that again.” If prospects want to know about it again, that means there is an interest. A buying interest. If you tell them about it again, then you ask them if they want to place the order now, or if they want to hear more stuff again.
  3. Statements about problems with previous vendors. That is huge! When prospects ask, “How long does it take to respond to a service call?” that indicates they have a service problem. Perfect time for you to ask, “Has service been problem?” “Tell me about it.” “What do type of service do you need?” “What kind of response do you need?” “So what you’re saying is, if our service is there for you when you need it we might be the best choice for you?” What you are doing here is asking for the sale, and not giving them any reason or opportunity for the prospect to say no! This type of question is a huge buying signal… you just need to be aware of it, and be prepared to answer it before you walk in the door.
  4. Questions about features or options. “What will it do?” “What will you do?” “Is this standard or optional?” “Is this my best option?” “Does this model come with that?” “Is this standard?” “Do I have to pay extra for this?” What these types of questions mean is that the customer is trying to picture ownership with your stuff attached to it. Your job is to recognize the signal, and be reassuring and prepared to confirm the prospect’s choice.
  5. Questions about productivity. Productivity is a little bit more subtle. They may ask questions like: (I will use a copy machine as an example because everyone uses one), “How many copies a day can it make?” “How often will it break down?” “Will it be easy for my employees to use?” “What is your service response time?” Price plus productivity equals cost. Productivity is a key ingredient in your differentiation. And your job as a salesperson is to get them from “price” to “cost.” Sometimes it may be a price issue, when it is really a cost issue. Your job is to get them to cost. HINT: you never want to be the lowest price.
  6. Questions about quality, guarantee, or warranty. “How long is this under warranty?” “How long will this last?” What the customer is saying to you is: I want to own this, but I want more reassurance.
  7. Questions about qualifications. “Now qualifications” take 3 different paths:
  • One is your qualifications.
  • The second is your company’s qualifications.
  • The third is your product’s qualifications.

ASK YOURSELF: Can all your people answer all customer’s questions on the phone? Can I call you directly if I had a problem? Do you have a special help desk? All of these things relate to some form of ownership in the prospects mind.

  1. Specific positive questions about the company.
  • “What other products do you carry?”
  • “How long have you been making this one?”
  • “What happened to the last model?”
  • “Do you have a new model coming out shortly?”

Major Clue: Answer all questions briefly and immediately. Don’t whip out the catalog or a bunch of slides. Instead, say, “Mr. Jones, let me take you on a brief virtual tour of our factory or warehouse. Let me show you some of our other products and how they can help you.

  1. Specific products or service questions. “How does the manual feed operate?” “Do you select the trainer or do I?” Make certain that your customer feels totally at ease about all elements of purchase and operation, including the equipment and the operation of your business. Put them at ease, but also ask for the sale.

Below is the last part of the list of 21.5 signs and signals that the customer MAY be ready to buy

  1. Specific questions about ownership of your product or service. “Would you provide supplies each month automatically?” “Would you come by each month and pick up my accounting?” “Suppose I like the temp, and want her to work for me full-time?” Those are the nitty-gritty questions of the buying process. The prospect is already owning it. You are being asked secondary (ownership) questions that say you are going too far. You should have asked for the sale a long time ago. These are questions that should come after you have completed the sale.
  2. Questions to confirm unstated decision or seeking support. “Is this the best way for me to go?” Or, “What do you recommend?” Could they be leaning any further forward without falling over? Your customer is looking at you for your expertise and advice. They are depending on you for your wisdom. When they ask, “What would you do?” and you don’t put ink on paper at that time, get out of there! You don’t belong there.
  3. Wanting to see a sample or demo again. “Could I see those fabric samples again?” “Tell me about the warranty again?” When prospects ask to see or hear anything again, that is when you write the order.
  4. Asking for a test or a sample. “Can I try this for a few days?” “Can you send me a sample?” The prospect is saying, if this works I will buy!
  5. Making buying noises. What’s a buying noise Jeffrey? The prospect saying, “Oh! I didn’t know that!” or “Oh really? that’s interesting!” or “You know, that’s in line with what we have been doing,” or “That is something that I have always wanted to try.”
  6. Asking about other satisfied customers. “Who else is using your product right now?” “Who are some of your current customers?” Here’s a clue: They don’t believe you, so they are asking questions about someone else like them so that they can have enough reassurance to buy. Customers don’t always believe the salesperson, because at some point in their life, a salesperson has lied to them.
  7. Asking for a reference. If they say, “Can I contact someone you did temp work for?” That is a specific question that says if you can provide this for me, I am buying. Or if they say, “Do you have a list of satisfied customers?” and you go, “Well no, but I do have this list of loyal customers. Would you like to see it?” that’s how you make the sale.
  8. Asking chicken questions. The buyer is always looking to lower the risk of ownership, but they start out with something like this, “Suppose I buy it and it doesn’t work, or it doesn’t fit, or it’s not the right size?” What they are saying is ‘give me some more reassurance.’ What the customer is saying right now is don’t sell me anymore, rather, reassure me.

Ok, so there’s the 21. There is one more, and then the .5 of course. Ok, so the last one is SO BIG that it needs its own space so I purposefully did not number it.

The biggest buying signal of them all is the one most often never asked because you have employed the rule of dumb.

Giving away critical pricing information before it’s asked for, therefore precluding the biggest buying signal in sales How much is it? This question is the single most powerful buying signal on the planet. If you tell your price at the beginning, or send your price list in your info-pack, you are taking away a huge tactical advantage in making the sale. The other “ask” that I did not put in this list but should be mentioned is when the buyer asks you, “What is the next step?” This is so blatant of a buying sign it’s not really right to consider it a signal. It’s more of a hit in the face with a shovel.

And finally, 21.5, your ability to convert any signal, sign or question into a sale.

Every one of these buying signals or questions can be turned into a closing question that will lead to a faster sale, if you are paying attention, if you are listening with the intent to understand. With every pointed question, the prospect is saying, “I want to buy.” My question to you is, “How are you responding?”

Listening for, recognizing, and acting on a buying signal is critical to your success as a salesperson. You will go past the sale if you don’t. And many do.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer @GITOMER KING OF SALES, The author of thirteen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. 

Posted in Listening, Sales

Align Your Sales Organization around these Four Strategies to Drive Sales Success

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By Miller Heiman Group | Future of Sales Success

iStock-1130406806-576x384 Align Your Sales OrganizationOn the surface, your sales organization looks like it’s doing everything your shareholders or board expects: Your revenue attainment is up, and more salespeople are exceeding their goal than you’ve seen in the last five years.

But if you peel these layers back, how are your sellers performing individually? Are your win rates or quota attainment rates what you forecasted them to be? Look at seller attrition and customer attrition—is that as strong as it was two or three years ago? When you dig into your leading indicators, you may not be seeing the positive growth that typically indicate sales performance success. So the question becomes,  are your numbers the result of sales strategies or is a strong economy propping up your organization’s sales growth?

If you suspect it’s the latter, now is the right time to take a step back and review your sellers’ sales skills and methodology alignment. In this, the third in our blog series discussing the findings of the “All That Glitters Is Not Gold: 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study,” we explore four ways that you can align your sales strategies for success, no matter the state of the market.

1. Evaluate Your Existing Talent—and Rebuild Your Hiring Profiles

The top 20% of salespeople typically account for more than 50% of an organization’s revenue, according to the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study. But intuition and the lagging indicator of quota attainment are largely what sales leaders focus on when evaluating individual sales performance. In fact, only 24% of organizations in the 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study reported that they regularly assess why their top performers are successful.

But diving deeper into what drives these top-performing salespeople to succeed requires a closer look at selling behaviors: what sellers say and do that helps them win deals. Sales analytics platforms like Scout can help sales executives assess win/loss patterns based on sellers’ actions, so managers can coach more effectively and replicate the patterns that lead to more wins.

Additionally, investing in predictive behavioral and talent assessments can help you pinpoint the traits that are most likely to lead to sales success, such as learning agility, intellectual curiosity, connectedness and more, and suggest ways that you can develop these skills across the sales force. These data-driven assessments can also help you build an ideal candidate profile for job applicants and identify career paths for your existing talent, leading to a more effective talent strategy.

After assessing your talent, you’ll know where your sales team’s strengths and weaknesses lie. You can then fill the gaps with targeted coaching and training that will build the sales skills and sales processes that lead to success across the entire sales force. For example, you may determine that individuals (or whole teams) lack specific product knowledge or need a refresher on negotiation skills. With this information, you can request resources to invest in for sales skills training, sales technology tools and other resources you need to close the gaps, help sellers achieve their potential and replicate top performers’ success.

2. Put the Customer at the Center of Your Organization

Buyers are still firmly in control of the sales process, so it’s essential for sellers to find new ways to add value for them. But that value goes beyond closing a deal: buyers today want salespeople to focus on the entire customer experience, from awareness to post-purchase and across every channel, focusing on what happens from the awareness phase to post-purchase, according to the CSO Insights 2018 Buyer Preferences Study.

Focusing on the customer’s path before and after the sale and keeping that path at the center of your sales alignment efforts will help your organization retain more customers, which will be essential to thriving in a slowing economy. To learn more about what your customers want and need, ask them to share their experiences throughout their buying journey.

3. Restructure to Improve Collaboration among Marketing, Sales and Customer Service.

Too many organizations have customer-facing departments with different goals and objectives that operate independently of each other. In this siloed approach to handling customers, marketing, sales and customer service each view the customer through their own lens, without considering the customer experience either earlier or later in the buying cycle. Planning in silos means that each team addresses customer needs piecemeal, so they don’t have a consistent approach and aren’t serving a common goal.

But they’re missing out: for example, customer service reps have the greatest insight into how buyers feel, because they touch customer accounts 10 times more than sales reps do. There are also significant opportunities in getting this right: buyers now expect to have a seamless, positive experience no matter where they interact with a buyer, whether it’s a form on the website or a conversation with a seller. The only way to deliver this consistently is to align together on customer wants and needs.

Ensure that you’ve created a structure to foster collaboration among customer-facing groups. One way to do this is to establish cross-functional account teams. When representatives from sales, marketing, service and product management sit together at the table, they’re more likely to collaborate to ensure that customers enjoy the best possible service and outcomes, no matter their stage in the buying cycle. They can also share insights they’ve gleaned from not only their relationships with various buying influences but also from the data captured in their sales technology, helping them to better understand their customers’ business objectives.

By taking a holistic view of the entire customer relationship, each customer-facing function can do a better job of understanding their customers’ perspective.

4. Get Your Data Strategy Right

On average, sales organizations use 10 different technology tools, and the 2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study shows that they plan to add four more this year. As a result, sales leaders need to embrace data strategy because it ultimately informs their teams’ day-to-day activities. Ignore the temptation to hand data and analytics over to IT, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Do we have the right data feeding into these tools?
  • Are we collecting the right data from these tools?
  • Are we applying analytics to get useful insights from them?

Data tools such as these can revolutionize sales teams. They free up seller time, help sellers zero in on exactly what to do next to move an opportunity forward and aid sales managers in knowing where to focus coaching and selling efforts. By taking a step back and evaluating which data to use, who owns managing the data and understanding where the data originates, sales leaders will better understand how the sales organization can leverage their sales technology stack as an asset for their sales team.

So, How Does Your Organization Stack Up?

Now that you’ve learned about the 12 top practices of world-class sales organizations, it’s time to see how well your organization measures up by investing 10 minutes in assessing your sales organization’s performance through our new diagnostic tool, the Sales Performance Meter.

After taking the diagnostic, you’ll immediately receive a PDF readout that shows where you need to focus on improving, which practices you should closely monitor and where you should maintain existing approaches that currently yield success.

Here are a few of the insights you can expect from your report:

  • Your organization’s sales effectiveness, based on sales process maturity and the depth of your customer relationships
  • How your sales team’s performance ranks in each segment of the Miller Heiman Group Sales System, including practices that support customer engagement, performance support and strategy alignment
  • Access to additional resources that explain the practices and the Sales Relationship Process Matrix in more detail and provide insights into how you can utilize the findings in this report

As you embark on 2020 revenue planning, now’s the time to understand where your company  needs to make investments to improve seller performance and steal market share away from your competition—before an economic slowdown.

Posted in Sales Process

Making Your Customers Happy is Not Enough


 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Screenshot_2019-08-01 Making your customers happy is not enoughWhat’s the difference between a traditional customer and a customer as a partner? About five times the business.

“Partnerships are the way of 21st century customer service. Just treating the customer well isn’t enough.” says Chip Bell, author of the book, Customers as Partners, “Customer delight is a dead end street.”

Chip Bell should know. He has served as a service quality consultant for such companies as GTE, Shell Oil, IBM and Nabisco. As an author of ten books, including one entitled Managing Knock Your Socks Off Service, which he cowrote with Ron Zemke, Bell has spent twenty years and traveled more than a million miles speaking on the subject of customer service to Fortune 500 companies around the world.

Customers as Partners crushes a lot of myths about customer service,” said Bell, “This book creates a whole new set of challenges to keep your relationships as solid as you think they are. Partners are more than customers. Customers have a stake in your success, the same way that you have a stake in theirs.”

In our meeting before his Charlotte book signing, I wanted to get some specific examples of “partnership attitudes” from Bell.

“The best example is when you compare one (short term) transactional cost to the (long term) relational value of the customer.” Said Bell. “If a Cadillac customer is worth $350,000 over a lifetime, why does the service department argue over a $25.00 part? Why argue at all? Seems illogical but they do. Just give me a quarter for every time a service manager argued with a customer. Short term win, long term suicide.”

Attributes of customers as partners begin with the principle that when relationships are long term they are value based not value added.

The primary values associated with customer partnerships are…

  1. Generosity – The spirit of giving (get others business).
  2.  Honesty – Truth makes a clean relationship (even if it hurts temporarily).
  3. Trust – Assurances that preclude me from having to look over my shoulder or look for ulterior motives.
  4. Comfort –  Familiarity, no surprises.
  5. Reciprocity –  The balance of the deeds over time (not measured deeds, but gifts without expectation). If you measure you lose. Have you ever done someone a favor and say to yourself, “He owes me one.” If you think someone “owes you one,” one is all you’ll get.

Want to give it a try? Start by looking for these five attributes inside you and your own company first. The best way to begin this process is to build a partnership environment in your own organization.

  • Treating your employees as partners.
  • Speaking nicely about your customers behind their backs (they are your paycheck, you know).
  • Showing a spirit of cooperation and teamwork among coworkers. Especially in the traditional rival areas of sales and production, or sales and the service department.
  • Accepting responsibility when a customer calls even if it isn’t your specific job.

It is your inside partnership philosophy that permits the outside partnerships to take place with your customers. You can’t have internal chaos and outside harmony. Partnership attitudes are bred from within.

Think about this: What message do you want to give your customers when they view your actions as a business? Are those actions congruent with the message carried today by your sales force to your customers and prospects about your product or service? If not, you will be seen as having two faces and be perceived as insincere.

There are four prime payback’s for partnerships…beyond the economics:

1. Partnerships are more mature in their expectations – (realistic) less fluff and dazzle. More meat and potatoes (if you’re a vegetarian, more tomatoes and potatoes).

2. While partnerships tend to be more demanding, they are more forgiving of error. Everyone makes mistakes. Partnerships will allow you the benefit of positive recovery.

3. Partnerships are more apt to give candid feedback. This helps you improve the quality of service, thereby the quality of the relationship.

4. Partnerships are more apt to champion you in the marketplace. They become apostles on your behalf. Street ambassadors. They tell love stories about you. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.

Partnerships with customers don’t just happen. It starts with a game plan and a commitment. It takes an investment of time and resources to reap the dividends. Is it worth it? Your competition hopes you don’t think so.

Posted in Customer Service

The 3-Step Sales Coaching Method that Transform Sellers’ Skills

by Alycia Sutor

Blog_3-Steps-Sales-Coaching-300x200We all know how discouraging it can be to engage in new behaviors in pursuit of a noble goal, only to experience slow momentum and growth. Take dieting. We begin with high hopes, big plans, and a fridge full of healthy food. But if we don’t see progress on the scale after a few weeks, most of us get discouraged, stop trying, and lose interest. The same is true when doer-sellers attempt to build their sales skills. Fortunately, GrowthPlay has honed a time-tested three-step sales coaching method that can truly transform the business development process.


Step 1: Conduct a Sales Talent Assessment
GrowthPlay’s talent analytics tool, the GrowthPlay Chally Assessment, is a 45-year-old talent-profiling tool that has been used on InnovationCampaign_infographic_download-300x159more than 750,000 people to measure skills and motivations attributed to success in high-performing organizations. Our research has identified 140 distinct competencies that correlate with sales success. Among those, we have targeted five roles that apply most directly in the professional services context: lead generator, account manager, educator, architect and inventor.

Each of these roles has its own set of skills, strengths and motivations that inform the seller’s approach to sales. The best news of all is that over 98 percent of lawyers surveyed showed an affinity for one of these roles, and many of them for more than one. Great sales coaching begins with an assessment of the seller’s natural strengths.

Step 2: Build a Sales Strategy Based on the Data
Understanding that it’s impossible to engage attorneys in a one-size-fits-all approach to business development, effective sales coaching focuses instead on the individual’s natural competencies to identify the places where he or she is likely able to contribute most effectively and efficiently. By uncovering the specific targets, interests and style that makes sense for each lawyer, the coach can find places to build momentum and drive initial success, which increases the seller’s optimism about where things can go next.

Step 3: Create a Self-fulfilling Cycle
“Reinvest” the initial sales success momentum (which is driven by getting the right people into the roles that play to their strengths) into a business development plan of attack that generates further engagement, excitement and enthusiasm, which leads to more sales and referrals, which continues to pull the lawyer’s attention to the ongoing process of business development. The skilled doer becomes a skilled seller too, bolstered by the positive cycle the sales coaching created.

There are so many ways to approach business development. Using data plus individual sales coaching that points sellers toward the places where they are naturally equipped to shine is one magic method to generate success.

Posted in Sales Coaching

Three Ways to Build a World-Class Customer Experience

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By Miller Heiman Group | Future of Sales Success

iStock-863497498-576x384Transformations in the market have put the locus of power squarely in the hands of buyers: the world revolves around buyers and their needs. That means sellers have to work harder than ever to attract buyers and convince them to purchase—not just once but in perpetuity. To forge these lasting customer relationships, sellers must create a world-class sales system that consists of three components: customer engagement, performance support and sales enablement.

In this, the first of a three-part series exploring the top 12 sales practices from of  “All That Glitters Is Not Gold: 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study,” conducted by CSO Insights, we’ll take a closer look at the first element of this triad: how sellers can build a world-class customer experience for their buyers that keeps them coming back.

Are You World-Class?

 1. Deliver Consistently Great Customer Experiences on Every Channel

Today, the buying process allows sellers to engage with buyers at multiple touchpoints—on websites, through email, phone—and through multiple contacts, whether through inside sales, field sales, channel partners or service representatives. No matter the source of the contact—from filling out online marketing automation forms to delivering sales presentations and responding to service calls—every contact with a buyer must add value to the customer experience. It should either bring the buyer further into the sales funnel or, for existing customers, deepen the relationship and open up opportunities for cross-selling and upselling. To keep these interactions positive, sellers must keep buyers at the center of everything they do: each touchpoint must be informed by—and designed to address—the buyers’ wants, needs and challenges.

2.  Create a Seamless Customer Experience through Tailored Messaging

Given that 70% of sales organizations’ revenue currently comes from existing customers, you can’t stop wooing customers once you ink a deal. The courtship has to continue indefinitely. Therefore, it’s critical to map out their buyers’ path, from awareness to purchase to implementation and adoption. The path is often iterative, so the key is to identify all potential touchpoints for common scenarios, such as new customers asking for a quote, current customers considering whether to change solutions or channel partners looking for service. The next step is to create a framework that any customer-facing professional can tailor to communicate the organization’s value to each buying influence and along each phase of the customer path. By equipping all customer-facing roles with similar  messages through training, coaching and other tools, buyers will experience relevant, valuable and differentiating interactions at each phase along their journey—and sellers can maximize their sales quota attainment.

3. Make Sure Every Sales Call Delivers Value for You—and Your Customers and Prospects

Buyers today wait longer to engage sellers in the purchase process, which means sales calls have become harder to secure. Regardless of a call’s length, every call needs to have valuable outcomes and next steps with messages tailored to individual buying influences and focused on the prospect’s point in the customer path. Sellers need to be prepared to share any relevant content, including product sheets, case studies and blogs. They also need to be ready to answer questions and provide advice to their buyer. Having the skills to conduct actionable sales calls takes time, and so sellers should be armed with a repeatable approach and methodology that adds value.. Organizations that have done this correctly have seen win rates of forecasted deals by 11.5% over those that haven’t.

How a Perspective-Based Sales Methodology Can Foster the Strongest Customer Relationships

When buyer budgets tighten, only the strongest relationships will survive. CSO Insights developed an innovative way to measure the strength of sales processes and buyer-seller relationships: the Sales Relationship Process Matrix. Sellers at the most basic level—approved vendors—that offer no clear competitive advantage over their peers are likely to be cut from their buyer’s roster of providers, while those who have risen to the level of strategic contributors—those that have a unique understanding of the buyer’s company and industry so they can offer meaningful solutions to the buyer’s challenges—are likely to have staying power. To create these lasting relationships, sellers must be able to offer perspective—an invaluable tandem of mindset, insight and experience that can help buyers more clearly understand their problems and achieve their goals.

Now’s the Time to Take Your Customer Engagement to the Next Level

Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight; that’s why it’s critical for organizations to future-proof themselves by starting their sales transformation now—before the next recession hits. And one pillar of that future-proofing is following these three steps to build a culture of great customer service, which can help you retain your customer base, regardless of the financial climate.


Posted in Customer Relationships, Customer Satisfaction

Four Essential Steps to Hiring Top Sales Talent

by Maria Rao

At-the-white-boardAccording to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate is around 3.6% which is the lowest it’s been since 1969. This means that recruiting and hiring for top sales talent is harder than it’s ever been before. Our research shows that the hiring and development of sales talent is often the least disciplined process within sales organizations. While sales leaders and managers are focused on helping reps build pipeline and close business, recruiting and the hiring process can often take a back seat to more pressing sales activities.

Many sales talent managers wait for a vacancy to occur; they then react, hustling and bustling to find a body to fill the job. In a competitive labor market, a vacancy can be open for months forcing the manager to settle, resulting in poor hiring decisions. Too many times, hiring managers go with their gut or an interview alone to determine whether a candidate will truly be successful in their organization, rather than following a regimented process. These are both fundamental mistakes.

If you want a high-performing sales team, you need a process to help you attract, hire, and retain top sales talent. Your number will be much easier to attain if you have the right people in place. Remember, top talent delivers where it matters most – the bottom line. Here are some key tips for smart hiring:

1 – Don’t Try to Clone Your Sales Superstar

GrowthPlay’s President, Tracey Wik refers to sales superstars as ““Purple Unicorns”, the mythical salesperson who succeeds in all arenas.” Wik says that purple “unicorns…do not exist. It’s important for you to find what reliably predicts performance for your sales roles and sales strategy.” For example, do you need business developers or account managers?  Do you need people who can provide a consultative solution?  What’s unique about your go-to-market strategy and environment? By identifying your role’s success profile based on your sales strategy, you’ll be able to identify the candidates that have strengths in the areas you’re hiring for. GrowthPlay has identified 18 benchmark sales, service, and sales management roles to provide easy access to reliable predictions of sales capacity.

Without defining these success behaviors, you’ll never be able to make good hires, repeatedly.

2 – Create Discipline

Don’t leave recruiting solely up to human resources. While it’s easy to complain about HR not doing the job you think it should, your best bet is to take ownership of the talent management system for your sales organization. That includes the recruiting of top talent. Ultimately, you own the number. Take ownership of the people who are going to help you get there.

  • Develop and adhere to a process that will bring you the right hires
  • Your hiring discipline should include casting a broad net to get the top talent you need
  • Use predictive analytics to help define the hires who are most likely to be successful in the role

3 – Always Recruit

A-B-C, “Always, Be, Closing” is the mantra for most top salespeople.  A-B-R, “Always, Be, Recruiting” should be the mantra for every top sales manager. Someone will be promoted. Someone will resign or be fired. Someone will surprise you. Don’t get caught off guard without a method to replace your sales talent. Tap your network for a bench. Former work colleagues, former and current satisfied clients, and top recent new hires can all be sources of new candidates. Remember too, that exceptional candidates are rarely looking for a job. But when they are, the window is very small as they get snatched up quickly. Don’t let the timing of your recruiting efforts get in the way of finding these exceptional candidates. Make it a personal goal to find three top candidates that you keep in touch with over time so that you have a constant pipeline of potential talent for your team.

4 – Don’t Settle

Don’t make the wrong hire by settling for someone who may be just okay. Remember the value of top sales talent and the cost of a mistake. The high price of unwanted turnover is not something any sales talent manager can afford in the competitive talent market we’re in.

Posted in Sales Talent, Talent Management

Prospects have rules. Follow them to make an easy sale.


 by Jeffrey Gitomer

Screenshot_2019-07-18 Prospects have rules Follow them to make and easy sale,When you make a presentation, you’re not the only one with expectations. The person you’re presenting to has as many or more than you. Are you aware of them? Or are you just making a pitch for your commission?

Most salespeople believe that they are selling their product or service. Wrong. The prospect is buying it and in order to get the maximum amount of buy’s, you must approach each sale with the maximum understanding of the buyer’s position.

Making the sale is so much easier when you take the prospect’s point of view, and direct your actions based on his principles and expectations rather than yours.

Here are 19.5 prospect Wants and Expectations from a professional salesperson (like yourself)…

1. Don’t waste my time. I’m busy. I’ve got a million things to do that are more important than listening to you unless I perceive a need.
2. Be organized and prepared. When you call me, write me, propose me, or visit my office, be ready with facts and direct answers.
3. Be interested in me. (Not your sales pitch or your commission.) Take a genuine interest in me and my company. Take a tour. Ask how we serve others. Ask what’s most important. Ask what our aspirations are.
4. Know my needs. Don’t even try to tell me what you think I need. Know exactly what I need. Question me before you sell me.
5. Take notes. You can’t remember everything. I want you to recall every detail of our conversation. I want our communication error free.
6. Show how you help me. I’m not interested in what you do or what you sell unless you show how it helps me or my business. Tell me how you are helping me if I buy.
7. Know who I am. The better you understand me, the easier it is to get me to a decision. I’m not going to buy until I understand you I suggest you understand me as well.
8. Tell me the truth. I want to trust you, but I’m skeptical. If I sense the truth, I’m most likely to buy and vice versa.
9. Tell me what’s in it for me. Show me how things will be different, better after I buy. Tell me why what you do will make a difference in what I do after I buy.
10. Prove it beyond a shadow of doubt. Don’t tell me, prove it to me. Show me testimonials of others who are like me who bought your product or service and are satisfied.
11. Help me buy, don’t sell me. I want to feel that it’s my choice. If you push me, I’m skeptical. Figure out a way to let me choose that I want to buy.
12. Paint me a picture I can see in my mind’s eye. Let me visualize owning it, using it, benefiting from it not just buying it.
13. Reinforce my choice. Tell me about others successes. Reassure me that I’ll be happy and satisfied.
14. Make me feel special. Tell me the wisdom of my choice. Thank me personally by mail. Give me something to remember you by.
15. Make me laugh. I want to feel comfortable. I want to feel at ease with you. Laughing helps me to relate to you and sets a great tone for business.
16. Listen to me. You may think you have all the answers, but you won’t use them to your best advantage if you don’t know what I need to hear. If you listen closely, I’ll tell you exactly what I want and exactly how I want to be sold.
17. Show me value for my money. My money is tight. I work hard for my money. I want to spend it in a way that makes me feel that I got real value. Tell me the extra benefits I derive by purchasing
18. Tell me this is a long-term relationship. Not just a one day stand. I’m buying because I feel confident that if all goes the way I hope it will go that I will buy again. I want to have a business friendship not just make a purchase.
19. Make me feel proud. Proud enough about what I bought to go out and tell others or refer others to you.
19.5 Deliver what you promised. Not just your product. Not just your service. Deliver what I expected, and surprise me by delivering something unexpected.

Sales are driven by questions. Those you ask the prospect and those you ask yourself before you begin the selling process.

As sales people and entrepreneurs you each have a point of view and perspective as to how you approach a sale. Let me challenge you that unless that view and perspective is the same as the prospect you seek to sell, it’s useless. The prospect’s point of view is more important than yours. The prospect’s perspective is not only more important than yours, it’s the one the sale will be made with.

Posted in Closing

3 Truths About Sales Effectiveness that Will Free you from the Doer-Seller Dilemma

by Deb Baker

Blog_Sales-InnovationFor many lawyers and professional services providers, sales effectiveness is a struggle. Most have a limited view of how to sell and all of them struggle with the unique challenge of balancing two roles: doing the work itself and generating new business.

At GrowthPlay, we call this the “doer-seller” dilemma. The challenge is real, but so is the opportunity. Mastering the role of sales not only provides the opportunity to maximize earning potential, it creates the freedom. When you control where your business comes from, you get more choices in how you spend your time, the types of clients you want to work with and the type of career you want to build.

Here are three ways to reframe how you think about sales effectiveness and overcome the doer-seller dilemma:

#1: Effective sales is just an extension of what you do best

At its core, sales is about offering solutions to problems that need to be solved. In other words, the same skills that make you a great lawyer or consultant also make you a great seller. Building relationships, engaging in sophisticated discovery, spotting issues that create opportunities, solving problems and anticipating objectives are all things that both doers and sellers practice to provide excellent service and bring in new business.

#2: Everyone has innate selling skills

What we know from the GrowthPlay Chally Assessment™, a 45-year-old talent-profiling tool that has been used on more than 750,000 people to measure skills and motivations attributed to success in high-performing organizations, is that you don’t have to fit the traditional rainmaker profile to showcase sales effectiveness. Just as there are different types of lawyers, there are multiple profiles of doer-sellers:

  • Account Manager whose strength is building trust and loyalty
  • Lead Generator whose strength is uncovering needs and building interest
  • Educator whose strength is in using insight and wisdom
  • Inventor whose strength anticipating change and helping buyers respond
  • Architect whose strength is adapting existing solutions to solve problems in different ways

We also know from research that 98 percent of the attorneys tested for this study were a fit for at least one of the profiles. Armed with this insight about the competencies of the practitioners in their firm, firm leaders can match people to the types of sales activities that enable them to work to their strengths.

#3 Sales requires skills, not just style

At GrowthPlay we’ve found one of the most powerful aspects of the work we do comes when doer-sellers define the specific skills and activities that go into successful selling. While understanding the sales process is an important starting point, the real opportunity comes when you know the actual skills that are attributed to successful execution at each stage. Once these skills are defined, learning how to practice them becomes more obtainable.

A great starting point is to create a common language for how you talk about sales and provide training that focuses not just on what to do but how to do it. The great news is, this language already exists. Research-based tools like talent analytics not only create insight into a person’s natural selling strengths, they provide the added advantage of defining what skills and behaviors are attributed to successful selling.

Understanding what effective selling is and how it works is the best way to break out of old habits and patterns that no longer serve your firm. When you help your practitioners sell to their strengths, they are more likely to enjoy the work of selling, find time to do it and get results that will drive growth.

Posted in Sales Effectiveness

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