Miracle cure; courtesy Microsoft Clipart

Sales Enablement – really?!

Sales Enablement … or is it Disablement?

Sales Enablement (SE) has emerged as a business role or function over recent years and it has its origins in some work started by Forrester in 2008.  Since then SE has grown into an industry in its own right consisting of technology, training and consulting businesses that exist to support the creation and operation of SE functions in their customers.  But what is SE?  There are many, many answers to this question so for simplicity I will use the most basic definition that I could find; “The processes, practices, technologies and tools that improve the performance and productivity of the sales organisation”.  This must seem like a good thing to most readers but as someone who has worked in the field of sales performance improvement for many years I can see how SE can damage the productivity of sales organisations and, in particular, individual sales people.  To understand why I raise the original question it is important to appreciate some key points in the recent history of the evolution of sales and selling in B2B businesses.

  1. Until the mid-1990s in-company sales training schools operated by companies such as IBM, Rank Xerox, Mars and, my former employer, British Olivetti, provided the primary mechanism for the training and development of raw recruits into skilled professional sales people.  Very few such schools still exist which is why recruiting skilled sales people is now such a difficult task; there aren’t enough of them out there.
  2. Until 10 – 15 years ago, the most common model would involve a sales person; generating their own appointments, conducting the complete new business sales cycle and then going on to manage the relationship with the customer growing and expanding the amount of business being done.  Some companies still work this way but in many cases; lead generation, new business hunting and account farming have been split into separate roles.
  3. Nowadays, although the primary role of the sales leader has always been to help their individual sales people, and the team as a whole, to be more successful by using their most powerful weapon – one-on-one coaching –  it is not uncommon to find sales leaders who NEVER accompany their people on sales calls and apart from a monthly sales meeting that focuses mainly on talking about past and future numbers little time is spent with the team as a whole.
  4. It is now common that SE (incorporating what may once have been called sales support) is removing further aspects of the selling role from the sales people.

In my view there is a clear case of cause and effect at play here. Companies stopped training sales people and managers stopped coaching leading to a reduction in general skill levels, this led to the fragmentation of the selling role in the hope that a more limited scope would mitigate the lack of a complete skill set. In most cases this didn’t really work so the next move was to implement tools (CRM being still the most common example) in the hope this would make the sales people more successful.  Tools didn’t really solve the problem and in many cases made it worse as sales leaders withdrew further away from the selling front line, where they should be, in the belief that tools would replace the need for coaching whilst also increasing their oversight of selling activities.  All that happened in most cases was an increase in the administration workload for sales people.  So, we arrive at SE, the latest attempt to make the sales and selling functions more effective but this just adds to the fragmentation of the selling role and it further de-skills the sales people who are the ones in the front line actually meeting prospects and customers.

Do you honestly want inadequately trained and skilled people doing the most important job in the company?

So, my answer to my own question is; I do believe that Sales Enablement is part of a continuing process of disabling the individual sales person that commenced when companies stopped investing in the development of individual sales professionals leading to the fragmentation of the role.

This is not to say that sales and selling “processes, practices, technologies and tools” are unimportant, far from it, but these things need to be fully embedded in the day-to-day operation of the activities of sales and selling not contained in a separate function.  Close inspection will find such arrangements to be neither efficient nor effective.

Does this matter?

If your business lends itself to a go-to-market model involving sales people who are the main interface with your prospects and customers then it matters a lot.  Surely, you need those sales people to be as well-equipped as they can be as they not only represent your products and services they also represent your brand.

While taking up references on someone we recently recruited for one of our customers I was told “X made the difference; she lost very few of her customers and even some who did leave came back citing X as the reason.

I do believe that in some markets and businesses, splitting the role of new business hunting and account farming makes eminent sense and using dedicated appointment makers can also be a good solution in many cases.  However, if the journey to splitting the selling role is about addressing unsuccessful attempts to make an integrated model work then there is a clear danger that you will just make matters worse if you continue on that journey.  My observations of many actual businesses suggest the creation of SE functions is often a reaction to earlier failed attempts to improve sales performance and productivity and hence SE is just a continuation of the journey away from where the real solution can be found.Before continuing the process of de-skilling and fragmentation we recommend that our customers first undertake a root cause analysis to understand the origins of the problems they are having.

So, I am clearly very anti Sales Enablement? Wrong!

If you consider some of the most common components that go into a SE function I do think it is crucial that a company provides such support to its sales people. Examples of things I have in mind include:

  • Collateral; not just product specifications but real meaningful material that supports each sales case by describing clearly the benefits and value that can be delivered; the focus must be customer centric; what they will gain not what the supplier can provide. This is about making sure it is selling collateral not marketing collateral.
  • Bid support;  a dedicated function that pulls together all the threads of the bid and crafts the proposal is especially valuable in the case of complex deals for large corporations or government departments.  Just ensure it really is a sales proposal that matches the customer’s stated needs and do not cut the sales person out of presenting the proposal. The key word in bid support is support!
  • Developing the skills of the sales people.  Training is important to provide a foundation but the real development work is done in one-to-one coaching by the sales leader.  The primary task of sales leaders should be the development of their people, not attending internal meetings or poring over spreadsheets and other historical data.

While I think all of the above will to varying degrees improve the performance and productivity of sales operations and individual sales people it is key to recognise these things must be structured to support the front line not replace it.

Reality Check: Sales Is Like an Orchestra, Sales Enablement Is the Maestro
Spotted recently on a LinkedIn discussion

This did make me laugh! 😂

So, where next for Sales Enablement?

believe there is an important role for SE especially in B2B companies and even more so those with complex propositions.  However; there is a real and present danger that companies will look to SE as the sole means of solving sales performance issues and if nothing else is done e.g. better processes, better recruitment, training and coaching of the sales people, then SE won’t deliver the required improvements.  There is in fact a danger that over focus on SE will exacerbate the problems leading to good sales people leaving the organisation – I know of a recent example.

I think SE is at a crucial fork in the road and the chosen direction will be very important as it will impact on the effectiveness and productivity of B2B sales and selling for many years to come. Strictly SE should be unnecessary as its purpose has been dictated by key mistakes made over the past two decades:

  • The lack of investment in people leading to the progressive de-skilling of the selling role thus falsely increasing the need for support.
  • The deskilling or misdirection of the sales leader role away from people development towards spread-sheet management.
  • The over complication of the selling role caused by, for example, a misguided belief that the “empowered” buyer is now in the driving seat so selling has become subordinate and reactive.

Companies, who decide to fix these problems at their root will probably find they still have a need for SE but it will clearly be as a support function not as a substitute for an effective professional sales force. 

Meanwhile for those who do not tackle the root causes today, preferring to add more tools whilst further fragmenting the selling role. They may see SE as the solution but in many cases it will be little more than a sticking plaster and they will eventually have to address the root cause so – why not do it now?

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growing your business

Want to increase sales without increasing the payroll bill?

There is plenty of research indicating that sales people typically spend less than 50% of their time actually selling.  A recent research report put the figure at just 33% spent on selling – scary!

How good would it be to double the amount of business generated by your sales team without increasing the payroll bill other than paying more bonus or commission?  After all you shouldn’t mind paying well-targeted bonus or commission as this is just a success fee!  Doubling the business generated could be achieved more easily than you might think.

So let’s look at three key strategies that can be used to make sales people more efficient, effective and productive. This focuses on; what the sales people do, how much of it they do and what support, or interference, they get from technology and support functions.

What should sales people be doing?

This seems both too simple and too obvious but my answer is just SELLING; nothing else, just selling!  This begs the question what is selling and what does it consist of.  Strictly, selling is the name of the final transaction that sees the ownership of goods or services pass from the supplier to the customer in exchange for a consideration which is normally payment of money.  However, a common understanding of the selling function embraces all of the activity involved in the engagement between a hopeful supplier and a potential customer.

A classic engagement cycle would see the sales people; making first contact or responding to an inbound enquiry, exploring the needs & wants, qualifying both the company and the opportunity to establish they are a genuine prospect, proposing a product or service solution, closing the deal and taking the order.  This can be simplified to; find, explore, propose and close.

So it seems to me that if the sales people are doing anything other than find, explore, propose and close, they are probably wasting valuable selling time.  I do believe there are valid activities that would fall outside my strict definition but even then those activities should be directly aligned to one of the four primary activities.

For example; we believe strongly in the value of desk research so before attending a meeting with a new contact the sales person should use the internet to find out enough background about the company to ensure the meeting is fruitful.  In the case of an appointment arranged by the company reaching out to the prospect the research should have been done prior to attempting to make the appointment.  When dealing with an inbound enquiry the research should still be done including deciding whether the enquirer has the potential to be a customer or whether they fall outside your profile for an “ideal customer”.  The time for this will vary according to how complex your solutions are but we are talking 5 – 10 minutes in most cases not hours.

If you had someone tasked with doing the desk research your sales people are currently doing, would that enable your sales people to attend more meetings where the real selling will be done?

This would be an example of the work done by a sales support or administration function or to use a current term a Sales Enablement function.  Doing the research is about making the sales person’s time more effective; who does it is a question of efficiency.  Another example would be appointing a specialist, internal or external, to make appointments for field sales again freeing up more time to attend meetings.

Consider: splitting the activities might also permit a more realistic definition of skill sets leading to more certain recruitment outcomes and focused management.

Time management

This topic usually focuses on the mechanics of time planning, journey planning and the like. So if the sales person has a meeting in a particular location the idea is to get them to fix other meetings close by to make best use of the travelling time.  However, this is about efficiency not effectiveness.  All too often the sales person will book additional meetings and will often go for what is easy to achieve so they visit their old mate Jim who is always good for a chat and a cup of coffee. In considering this scenario through an effectiveness filter I would question whether the sales person would be better served getting back to the office to start producing the proposal for the exciting new prospect rather than wasting time having a nice chat with Jim?  Just a question to ask yourself.

People will do what they are asked to do and if one of the parameters you set your sales people is to do XX meetings per month that is probably what they will do.  It would be much better to set more meaningful criteria that relate directly to the selling job; find, explore, propose and close.  So the measure should be something like “arrange and attend at least X meetings per month where the result is the customer having an actual requirement that we can satisfy” or “attend XX meetings per month that generate a follow on action (further meeting, site visit, demonstration, request for a quote or proposal, etc.)

It is often said you cannot manage what you cannot measure and this should be extended to include “… and don’t measure what doesn’t matter”.

Tips

  • Explain to your sales people that you want to understand how they spend their time as you are looking to eliminate counterproductive processes and targets which waste their valuable selling time. This needs to be handled carefully as it can be a sensitive subject.
  • Sit down with each person and get them to describe their typical week or month.  It may help to break this down to half or even one/two hour slots.  Use as the basis for this; find, explore, propose and close, and add a fifth category – other*.  This will give you a high level picture of how the sales people are spending their time plus a guide to how you may need to re-position the definition of an ideal sales productivity model.
    * Other may identify missing as well as counterproductive factors.
  • Understanding the ratios between the four main activities will also provide a useful aid when comparing the performance of different sales people and also different sales territories or product groups.  It will also provide a very useful input to individual; training, development and coaching plans.
  • Modify the; processes, goals, objectives, targets and, if necessary, the compensation plans that you set for the sales people to ensure they align with the ultimate goal of maximising the time spent actually selling.
  • Measure only what matters.

Ways to support your sales people

The basic tools for pretty much any sales job are a phone, computer or tablet and maybe a car or access to good public transport for field sales. Now however, courtesy of technology, there are literally tens and probably hundreds of tools vying for attention in the sales and selling space.  Here we have focused on just a few that we think can help to make the selling function more effective and productive.

Note: in our time we have used and investigated various tools which serve the purposes described below, each have their strengths, weaknesses and sweet spots, so feel free to ask.

  • CRM will be top of the list for most people; we agree that when a CRM is properly implemented as a selling (not marketing) system it will definitely help the sales people to be more effective.  It is not uncommon that sales people cite the CRM as extra admin they have to do.  The word “extra” is the warning bell as it indicates the CRM requires people to do things outside or beyond their normal selling activities so the sales people often see no benefit in using the CRM leading to resistance.  The most common cause for this is that the design of the CRM took little heed of the needs of the sales people or their processes, resulting in two discrete systems; the ways the sales people actually do the job and the way the CRM designer thinks they should do the job.  Hence the view that CRM Ξ extra admin.

So, when implementing a CRM; first analyse the existing sales processes, fix any gaps or weaknesses, publish the new processes inviting feedback, amend appropriately and then produce the final specification for the CRM system your company really needs.

  • Don’t fall into the trap of creating a system that expects sales people to record lots of low level activity. For example; how many times they pick up the phone is of little consequence; what matters is how many meaningful conversations they have as measured by a positive outcome such as a meeting or request for a quotation.
    Tip: measure outcomes not inputs.

Now select the CRM tool that best fits the process you have defined and use it to “computerise” that process. Better still consider implementing a sales process automation system; as the name suggests this seeks to automate the processes not the selling activity.  This will definitely minimise the “administration” aspects of the selling job thus freeing more time for the sales people to spend with prospects and customers.

In this way the sales people have one system to work to; one which actually helps them and you.

  • Company search tools to help build better more informed profiles of prospects.  There are a number of such search tools on the market that enable you to set comprehensive parameters that are then used to search for suitable potential contacts.  Simple criteria such as; industry, location, size are easily catered for but it is also possible to build much more sophisticated profiles including, for example “any company that has static or falling profit over two or more consecutive years”.  If your solution is focused on helping to address profit issues any message you communicate to a company with falling profit will have greater impact – they will realise you have done your research and this alone will encourage them to want to speak to your sales person.  There are a number of well-established data aggregation tools that we have used for this purpose and we are in the process of trialing a tool that uses web crawlers and similar techniques to seek out new contacts with a fit to your ideal target.

Helping sales people to be better focused will contribute to all three criteria; efficiency, effectiveness and productivity.

  • A sales support function has been a feature of sales and selling operations for many years but it has no clear definition.  The essence of a good sales support function will be to provide a (centralised) set of services that all sales people can draw upon which frees them up to focus on the core selling activities.  An example, stemming from the previous point, would see a central function doing the work to search for and profile potential new prospects which would be given to the sales people to follow up.  It is also quite common that telemarketing is centralised (in-house or outsourced) to generate appointments for sales people.  In cases where proposals and other responses to prospects are large, complex and time consuming a good strategy is to create a centralised bid support function again freeing the sales person to focus on the key activity of engaging with prospects and customers.
    Tip: if all sales people have to do a small amount of a particular activity consider whether it could be centralised such that one person can become the expert.

Sales support has been morphing into Sales Enablement of late and it is worth considering whether such a function would add value to your business. We do have some firm views on this and will be covering the topic in detail in our next newsletter.

Making your people individually and personally more effective

Much of what we have discussed above is about the environment and systems the people operate in but of course there is plenty of scope to help the people themselves; paying attention to the inner person.

We have covered these topics in previous newsletters and blogs so I will just summarise the key topic areas here.

  • Recruitment; it seems obvious but if you recruit the wrong people to join your sales teams you are starting from a weak position.  What does wrong mean?  The answer is about the fit with your job requirements and culture not an absolute description of the candidate.
    Tip: define the requirements of the job and recruit against that specification; don’t just recruit the best of the bunch if they don’t meet your criteria – you and they will probably live to regret it.
  • On-boarding and induction.  When you recruit someone, no matter how experienced, they are in effect raw material to you.  To help that person become an effective employee for you then you must make the effort to bring them on board and induct them into the role you have recruited them for and how that fits into the overall company activity and objectives.  If this takes, one, two, three weeks don’t be concerned, the investment of time will pay you back handsomely.
    Tip: I said “induct them into the role you have recruited them for” which means no surprises; ensure you have described the role very clearly during recruitment as people leaving jobs shortly after joining a new company is all too common if they feel they are a square peg in a round hole.
  • Training is a crucial step in completing the process of converting your new recruit into an employee.  You need to train them in everything they need to know to do the job as you want it done and this is of course about your products, services, solutions and your proposition but it is also about the processes they need to follow and if during recruitment you detected gaps in their selling skills then they need to be addressed as well.
    Tip: a part of the recruitment process should involve the creation of a personal development program for each new recruit and this should include training needs.
  • Ongoing development through; leadership, management and coaching is also key to creating happy employees who will want to stay with you.  Recruiting the wrong person who stays with you for a few months then leaves or you have to let them go is a huge waste of money and time and with sales people it can also come with a huge lost opportunity cost if they fail to convert qualified opportunities, which you have provided, into revenue for your business.  Of the three disciplines; leadership, management and coaching, coaching is the one that will deliver the best return in terms of gaining better performance from your sales people.  Sales people receiving regular rigorous coaching typically out-perform those who do not receive such support by as much as 20% more business sold.
    Tip: build into the sales managers’ objectives the need to undertake a minimum of four hours field coaching per month per sales person.  If the sales managers don’t know how to coach, teach them.
  • Retention is as important as recruiting and if you pay attention to the points above people will want to stay with you.  While paying people appropriately for the work they do is of course important, how you treat them is even more so.
    Tip: when people do leave you always do an exit interview; this should be a professional structured meeting conducted by someone not involved with the person on a day to day basis, maybe even consider using an external person to do this. 

Summary

Efficiency, effectiveness and productivity, like the legs on a three legged stool, provide a strong and stable platform but if a leg is missing or unequal to the others then the stool will be wobbly and unreliable in use.  Don’t let your sales and selling operation be like a wobbly stool.

The really good news is that all of this is available at no additional cost to payroll as it is all about doing what you already do, that you already pay for, better and faster.  What’s not to like!?

Intelligence Led Prospecting

Time is a precious commodity in any business so we all need to ensure we spend it wisely. When we commit ourselves to any activity we need to know, with a reasonable degree of certainty, that we will get an acceptable return for the effort invested. While this can be said about any business activity the need to spend time well is at its most acute when prospecting for new customers and new business as; to fail at finding enough new business can put the whole company at risk.

What do we mean by Intelligence?

In this context it is quite simply information that equips you to be more discerning and precise in your prospecting activities.insight7x4 Useful information can be readily gleaned through on-line and off-line research and should be a standard element of all prospecting activities. Before you leave the office or pick up the phone you should know what you are heading into.

What is prospecting?

It is any activity that enables a business to identify companies or individual people (depending on what your business does) who might want or need what you do and so could become new customers for you. We class these identified companies or individuals as suspects; all you have is an external view that suggests they have the potential to become customers for your business.

To be clear; you have identified them but this is just the beginning and you now have work to do to filter those suspects, convert them into prospects, then customers and eventually users of your products or services

How can Intelligence help you look for new suspects?

The classic sources of prospecting for new customers or opportunities of; cold calling (telephone and face-to-face), advertising, mailshots and exhibitions have been joined by; social media, LinkedIn, networking (face-to-face, on-line, organised and casual), e-mailing, in-bound marketing, blended in/outbound marketing, SEO and other website strategies, seminars and other executive speaking opportunities, referrals, introductions, recommendations and the list goes on.

This is not an exhaustive list and more are coming along almost daily – you must choose carefully the combination of prospecting sources you will use to protect the use of precious time and funds. This is the first point where intelligence will help you to focus your efforts – by studying what works and what doesn’t, you can decide on the optimum mix of activities for your specific business needs, market and products/services and thus create your ideal prospecting environment.

How else can intelligence help your prospecting?

Once you have decided on the mix of sources you will use, undertaking research to collect intelligence will make a significant contribution to the effective use of your time. To quote Peter Drucker, my favourite business expert, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” He also observed “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.
Having decided upon the mix of sources you will use for your prospecting you now need to continue your research to further filter where you will apply your efforts. For instance:

  • LinkedIn – if you want to be seen on LinkedIn by organisations or people that might have the potential to become customers then you need to be in the right places. If, for example, you provide a commercial cleaning service in the home-counties there is no point joining/starting a group focused on business in Yorkshire or a group focused on, let’s say, baking.
  • Physical networking – as with the previous example you need to attend networking events that are most likely to attract people who might be interested in what you do. Before you commit to an event do the research; what type of people have attended in the past, if there is a speaker is the subject relevant to what you do and if a list of attendees is available look them up before you commit to attending. If you do attend make a list of people you want to meet and seek them out.

The basic principles established in the previous examples will also apply to; exhibitions, speaking opportunities, advertising, publishing blogs and articles. You need to do the research before spending time and effort on any prospecting activities to ensure you will be in the right place and with the right people.

One area that requires a special mention is telephone prospecting. Some call this cold calling but we see it as warm calling or more accurately and simply telephone prospecting. If all you do is pick up the phone and call anyone then it is cold calling and it is also a very poor use of your time. Fortunately technology provides us with excellent tools and facilities that enable detailed research to be conducted before a programme of telephone prospecting commences. The starting point is to create a profile of your “ideal” suspects and undertake the research to identify companies that match the profile.

Consider a relatively simple example of a profile; insurance broking firms, turnover between £5m and £10m, no more than 40 employees and based in the Thames Valley. Using web based tools you can quickly identify a short list of companies that match your criteria but you can also find out contact names, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, web presence (or not), and other useful information about the current state of affairs that will empower the conversations you have when you call. Now your telephone prospecting activities will be much more focused and productive.

If you don’t follow the research based process outlined above, then you will effectively be taking a business directory, calling every insurance broker in the book and suffering time wasting rejections. This is the needle in the haystack approach not the intelligence led approach.

Sales and selling is at its most effective and productive when approached systematically and research to equip yourself with intelligence is the most effective way that I have found to make it systematic and to make the outcome from my prospecting effort predictable. Try it; you never know, you may even enjoy it and it is mainly free – how bad can that be?

If you would like more tips and advice on original ways to improve your sales and selling performance take a look at some of our other articles or contact me directly: phil.shipperlee@performative.net or call me on 07974 914 557

Sales – The Missing Link in Business Success

Sales & Selling Performance - the complete story

Sales & Selling Performance – the complete story

If you missed the broadcast on 31st October, you can listen in to the podcast via the UK Entrepreneur Network site to hear Phil as he lifts the lid on approaches to turning opportunities into profitable revenue, and shares several valuable sales tips.

The associated presentation slides can be found here.

Our thanks to George Montgomery for making this possible.

Business growth

Business Growth

Are you an owner manager or business leader, looking to take the next step?

As your business grows, so too the C level team may need to evolve; focusing more on strategy and less on operations, or delegating specific functions. Sometimes, trying to achieve this on your own can be frustrating and risky, requiring a steep learning curve.

In such times of change it can be more cost effective to use external resources to provide the particular skills to successfully design and implement the changes as they are likely to be significantly different to the skills required to maintain the new environment.  An interim appointment is often ideal for these circumstances.

We can work with you and your top team to develop strategic and tactical (sales) plans for:

Growth: providing support, advice and guidance for directors and owners who are dealing with the many problems arising from growing a company in today’s tough business environment.

“Performative has helped us to refocus on our current products and also to look at new markets and we are working as a board far more efficiently.” Director, International Mailing company.

“The work done by Performative created a great foundation for what is now a very successful business.” MD, IT Solutions company.

Succession: If business success has been heavily reliant on your involvement, it is natural to be apprehensive when handing the reins to others so you can devote more energy to the future of the business and coaching your successors, or to freeing you for your next business. We identify the profile of your ideal recruit and shortlist appropriate candidates for your final decision.

“In early 2010 we decided to recruit a Commercial Director to take over the management of the sales and marketing function from me and Performative designed and ran the entire recruitment project. The service provided was excellent as it allowed me to spend more of my time on business, both operationally and strategically, while Performative ran the recruitment project.” MD, IT Parts company.

“Having Performative involved in recruitment of crucial sales appointments gave me peace of mind to leave the UK and build our US operation.” CEO, On-line Education Support company.

Structural Change: drawing on a wealth of practical experience to support you in the preparation and execution of strategy for; new market penetration, acquisitions, mergers, outsourcing, floatation or post-acquisition/merger harmonisation.

“Following the successful completion of a Sales Performance Transformation programme, Performative continued to work with us in support of a plan to effect a management buy-out by existing senior executives. Their wealth of business experience and specific knowledge of the M&A market enabled Performative to provide me with real practical help in finding my way through the minefield of the MBO. In particular it helped me to understand what to expect from the accountants, lawyers and banks, and thus prepare for their processes in funding an MBO. Performative also provided invaluable assistance to the members of the MBO team. Without the support of Performative this would have been a much more difficult exercise peppered with pitfalls.” CEO, Communications company.

Exit: providing expert assistance in preparing your company to make it an attractive proposition for trade sale, divestment or MBI/MBO, enabling you to focus on business as usual and retain business value.

“Performative drove the process throughout, without which support either the business would have suffered or the deal would never have completed. Since completion Performative have continued to support us through the early stages of integration. I am extremely happy with the result they have obtained for us.” MD, Media Agency.

Feel free to contact us for a confidential discussion on achieving your growth plans.

Customer engagement for win-win deals

Customer Engagement

If your customers are slow to make decisions and your pipeline forecast is forever moving, we can help you.

If your sales force are submitting bids with a low uptake so you feel you are just providing free consultancy, we can help you.

Markets are changing and customers have more opportunities for research before they buy, consequently the sales force has different challenges in order to engage with customers. Gaining insight into your Customer’s world and thereby understanding how you can deliver greater value than your competitors can be key to how you approach your target market.

We have helped companies in various sectors re-focus their propositions and markets for greater customer engagement, leading to more new and extension business. This also assisted the sales management to obtain more reliable forecasts.

“Working with Performative greatly improved the quality of engagement with potential customers and our ability to forecast outcomes from those.” MD, Mobile Technology company.

Feel free to call us for a confidential discussion.

Identifying your sweet spot

Identifying your sweet spot

Ensuring you offer the right things to the right people;

Identifying your sweet spot

Aiming for the bullseye

The first step towards sales effectiveness is doing the right thing. This means ensuring your capabilities are honed towards a target audience that will best appreciate and hence buy from you.

By fully understanding your proposition and why your customers buy from you, you can be much more focused, targeting the right audience, delivering the appropriate value proposition to meet the buyer’s needs.

We can help with an appropriate mix of:

  • Workshops to uncover and refine your capabilities and marketable solutions.
  • Customer survey activity to identify the strengths and weakness of your current offerings. Customers are likely to be more open with an independent researcher, or with a member of your senior management team with whom they do not normally communicate.
  • “Secret shopping” campaigns to identify the brickbats and bouquets of your current face to the customer.
  • Market analysis assignments typically with the purpose of identifying and defining new markets, or trends and upcoming changes which your customers will need to address. This will help shape your approach to existing and new customers.
  • Competitor reviews to identify and develop your winning tactics and strategies.
  • Staffing review to leverage the talents of the team.
  • Routes to market advice and facilitation.

We’ll be happy to discuss how we can best help you meet your specific targets, so please feel free to call or email us now.

“We were very happy with the Market Research Report Performative delivered to us. It clarified our perception of the market and raised a few ideas for a different approach. ”

“It has helped us to refocus on our current products and also to look at new markets”

shorter sales cycles, new customers, more business, increased profilts, better cashflow
SAM Learning, business growth, sales recruitment, sales training

SAM Learning

The Outcome:

The CEO was able to confidently transition to the US leaving a well-run UK operation with a good sales team that was maintaining market share in an increasingly competitive environment.

“Having Performative involved in crucial sales appointments gave me peace of mind to leave the UK and build our US operation. Subsequently, they have delivered a number of training interventions for the UK sales staff.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating; two years on and the business is going from strength to strength.”   David Jaffa, CEO, SAM Learning Ltd

The Challenge

SAM Learning is a leader in cross-curricular on-line revision and exam practice, providing students with imaginative and interactive ways to learn.

Performative was initially engaged due to the pending move of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to the US to start SAM Learning over there.  This situation meant that the UK required a senior executive to run the business in the UK.  There was also recognition that the UK required some support for the sales teams who were facing increasing competition in the market.

The Performative Solution

The first task for Performative was to use its sales experience to recruit a UK Sales Director.  Performative used a multi-step interview process and candidate profiling.  The chosen candidate was a success and has since become to UK Managing Director.

Performative did multiple projects thereafter including:

  • Delivering custom designed selling skills workshops for the UK field sales team to help the existing team of account managers to develop new business hunting skills.  This has paid off in the form of new customers being created and more accurate sales forecasts being produced.
  • Providing support in the final selection of a new business sales person for the US operation.
  • Providing sales skills training for the internal telesales team to enhance the skills of the team in three main areas:
    • Making new business appointments for the field sales team.  This included work on improving the profiling of potential customers to increase the effectiveness of the calling.
    • Increasing their skills to more effectively close small new business opportunities on the telephone.
    • Increasing their skills when “farming” existing accounts to get extension business.
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