This is our first blog. For the title of our blog-site we borrowed the idea to compare, from Signal vs. Noise by 37signals. Our intent is to differentiate selling automation from salesforce automation. We are anxious to hear your comments.
Salesforce automation and CRM systems
Salesforce automation and CRM systems have transformed the way all of us manage sales and sales teams over the past two decades. This market is estimated to be over $18 Billion with Salesforce.com, SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft leading the pack. Most of your businesses adapted or are aware of salesforce automation systems, customer-centric thinking, and your marketing and sales teams have deep customer relationship management programs, training, skills development, and many other initiatives. Your business gets substantial returns from these initiatives either in revenue growth, market share growth, or margin growth. Over the past few years, many of you have started to focus on improving marketing and sales content, and finding new ways such as social media, to promote content. Today, you are now more aware of exciting innovations in marketing, and sales technology.
B2B selling process
B2B sales process typically involves major steps such as lead generation, lead qualification, and b2b selling:
In our experience and expertise, step 3 - the b2b selling process differs across businesses and at-times across opportunities. However the basic activity or process elements, such as assessment needs, recommend solution options, demonstrate value, and negotiate for closure, are similar across industries. Businesses adapt a customized selling methodology, train their sales teams, and often fail to follow through on execution. Businesses do not have a mechanism to measure effectiveness of their selling methodology and to improve it. They depend on the skill, experience, expertise, and training of their sales teams to effectively use the customized selling methodology. Sales teams are measured primarily on quota, not on their effectiveness, such as pipeline conversion ratio, average deal value, average cycle time, and average lead time.
When you conduct a quick search for selling methodologies you will reveal over 23 different methodologies, including solution selling, SPIN selling, social selling, insight selling, challenger selling, strategic selling, customer-centered selling, conceptual selling, and many more. Amazon.com lists 13800+ books on selling techniques and methodologies, 1100+ books on B2B marketing, 1000+ books on B2B sales, and 400+ books on B2B selling. Over 80% of you have adapted some form of formal or informal selling methodology. You spend time and money, and endure change management issues to adapt your custom form of a selling methodology. However, businesses pay little attention to sales effectiveness, and selling automation, because sales teams are measured on quota and not on their selling effectiveness.
The case for B2B selling automation
While salesforce automation and CRM systems have successfully automated a way to report, forecast, and monitor the opportunity pipeline, salespersons find these systems to be a burden. Sales teams often feel that salesforce automation systems are a reporting tool or forecasting tool meant for their managers and not for the salespersons. Businesses must re-imagine their selling process, and consider adapting selling automation.
You expect your salespersons to meet or exceed their sales quota, and your sales organization to meet or exceed the annual revenue plan. Despite this focus on achieving quota only 64% of salespersons meet or exceed quota according to a 2012 CSO Insights Sales Performance Optimization Survey. This survey also indicates that over 65% of businesses express doubts about their ability to meet their 2013 revenue targets. These doubts are not unfounded, for example, with over 17% team turnover and 70% of the team taking more than 7 months to be productive, it is simple arithmetic to recognize that 7% of revenue is at significant risk. Selling automation helps your business measure and therein improve selling effectiveness. Selling automation supports the salesperson and the sales organization and enables the salesperson meet or exceed quota, and substantially improve the speed of signaling opportunities to closure.
- Step 1 - Marketing and Lead Generation: Typically your marketing team is involved in generating leads, qualifying these marketing leads, and then transferring these leads to sales. The result of this step is several MQLs or marketing qualified leads.
- Step 2 - Lead Qualification by Sales: Your sales team picks up the leads from marketing, the MQLs, initiates first contact, and potentially conducts qualification of the lead, many times using BANT or one of many lead scoring processes. For more on BANT or lead scoring, click here. The result of this step is SQLs or sales qualified leads.
- Step 3 - B2B Selling: One of your salespersons is assigned the specific SQL to initiate the selling process, including initial pitch, needs analysis, information sharing, solution recommendation, value demonstration, negotiation, and finally closure. This step results in converting SQLs to opportunities, and finally in signaling closure on opportunities, to a win, a loss, or other reasons.