This is a framework to visualize all of the components necessary to sustain a sales engagement. This also constructs a key barrier against having prospecting efforts fall off as you get busy with phone engagements, demos, proposals, delivery, and follow up. Here is how I have laid the critical foundation to creating repeatable and scalable sales results.
This refers to your understanding and articulation of your ideal customer. The more complexity you can bring to this visualization the better. This demonstrates that you deeply understand the problems your customers face, and have insights into the difference between a good customer, and a great one!
Can you articulate 10 aspects of a great customer right now? I am not talking about title, geography, number of employees, and revenue. I mean, describe what a great customer is talking about or is leveraging that indicates this is a company that has the problem you solve.
I work with a company that sells sprinkler controllers which leverage ground sensors to determine when and where to water. One of their key sales channels is sprinkler installers. So they bought a list of installers. The volume of leads was too much for their 2 person sales team.
When we met with them, we asked them about what made a great customer. The answer was: sprinkler installers that care about water conservation . These environmentally friendly installers discuss xeriscaping and other tactics that help homeowners conserve water, while still enjoying a beautiful yard. So it wasn’t just sprinkler installers, it was sprinkler installers that care about water conservation - especially in drought prone states. This key finding made the difference in their selling efforts, and became their definition of Data.
This refers to the tools you use to house, enhance, and store data. Over time systems will be used in many departments and for many different reasons. But the core - account and contact - need to be universal and acceptable.
Systems we use
● CRM : Salesforce for central prospect and customer data repository. All our other business systems retrieve and deposit information into Salesforce. This is our definitive and single view into the prospect and customer.
● Sales Automation : Outreach.io to leverage automated outreach to the many different types of ideal customer profiles we have developed using email, LinkedIn, and alerts when it is time for a phone call. This tool is essential to our scheduled prospect engagement efforts. So no matter how busy (or distracted) we become, Outreach always keeps to a schedule so that this critical business process does not fall victim to the “tyranny of the busy”.
● Marketing Automation : Hubspot to help us learn from all website visitations, and at the same time, understand the best time and method to engage with site visitors. Websites are one of those things that are never finished. They require constant tweaking, and the best source of insights for making improvements are your visitors and customers.
● Customer Service : LiveChat to answer website visitor questions, allowing them to dictate how they would like to communicate with us. Some like to chat, others email, and others a phone call. In our company, we let the customer decide so technology does not become a distraction to them getting their questions answered as quickly as possible.
● Contract execution : Docusign contracts. Everyone in the signing workflow can view all proposed changes, make/add comments, and ultimately sign a mutually agreed to document. The fully executed document is then stored, and emailed to all relevant parties. This cuts down considerably on the older method of redlines and emails.
Process refers to how information flows through the various systems. Effective processes
streamline activities, highlight issues, and give insights into how to become more productive as an enterprise. We are always looking at how things are being done today (current state) and thinking about how to deploy more automation into the tools that are already in place (future state). With every customer interaction, there is an opportunity for learning, and that learning is translated into action via effective processes.
Automation addresses repeatable processes that are the building blocks of a desired output. It is the involvement of people, however, that is required to bring disparate elements together to complete an activity. When a prospect is sufficiently interested in our solution set, it is now time for human outreach.
I believe people buy products and services for emotional reasons (an intended outcome) and they justify these purchases with intellectual reasons (time saving, speed to market). It requires nuances only a human possesses to have an effective communication with a prospect to address their real and critical emotional needs that have to be satisfied for a deal to progress.
Perhaps someday automation will be able to replace the critical “last mile” activities of a human, but for now I haven’t seen anything that even comes close.
Developing an effective “human” based sales channel requires training, repetition and reinforcement. This creates an emphasis on the basics, and is repeatedly worked as we all inherently forget what we don’t repeat.
The Fab Four
Every enterprise needs to tailor some combination of raw materials to create their own sales machine. For a small business, the systems and processes may be as simple as email, a printer, and a pen. The size and complexity is not the issue. It’s building workflow using these building blocks, and then actually doing it, that will create a sustained outcome. The most complex machine in the world is useless if you never turn it on. Develop the machine that works for your particular organization, and let it fly.
by Mike Higgins
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