Sales: Winning in 2016
By Jim Lundy
We are already at the end of the first week of 2016 and the question is this: Is your sales team ready for 2016? Are you falling back on business as usual, or have you developed a winning plan for this year?
For many organizations, this will be an average year for a number of reasons. For others, it will be a significant growth year, in part due to planning with due diligence, the success of the sales processes, and most of all, a combination of outcome-focused sales and marketing activities that lead to results. All that said, for 2016, there are some fundamentals that cannot be missed.
First, before diving in, a short setup: I started my career in sales at Xerox. It was my very first job out of college; over my 15-year career span at Xerox, I took on most of the sales and marketing roles. I was lucky to have been part of a team that valued the role of sales and made investments in their people.
Many clients I have met over the years have come to learn about my background, and based on their feedback, we started to focus more on the sales and marketing role in our published research in 2015. Aragon has given many talks to sales organizations—one of the reasons we get asked to do this is because we know how to talk the language of sales. Now, let’s talk about 2016.
Sales Fundamentals: Training and Skills
One of the biggest misses for sales organizations is jumping into the game without preparing. Knowing what to say (and when to say it) is part of the art of selling. While most sales organizations can point to the training that they use for new hires, many cannot. Having a training program is not enough; it’s about practicing the art of selling.
Having been a soccer coach for many years, one thing is clear in sports: If you don’t practice, you often don’t do well in the game. In sales, no matter what level you are at, practicing what you are going to say often means the delivery is much crisper—and you often get to the desired outcome faster.
What I often hear from seasoned professionals is, “I know how to sell.” Well, knowing how to sell isn’t the point. The point is to practice the craft. Ask yourself and your team, when you are practicing, “What are you going to say before a call?” The back-to-basics example of how to do this is to stand in front of a mirror and practice.
CRM Is Not Optional
No matter which one your company uses, CRM platforms are the best way to manage your pipeline and set yourself up for success. Even in 2016, I still hear comments about CRM systems and how sales professionals don’t like using them. We can all agree that there is no such thing as the perfect CRM platform. Clearly, firms that are doing well don’t have this problem. They make the use of CRM mandatory, and they focus on using one main platform.
For sales veterans, one observation I would make is that keeping deals updated in a CRM system doesn’t take very long, particularly with mobile-enabled capabilities. What I often see is that those who use a CRM as a tool to manage their pipeline do far better than the ones who whine about it being a pain to use. The bottom line is, if you aren’t spending time in your CRM system every day, you are missing out on opportunities.
Digitizing Sales Is the New Normal
Today, it’s not just about using CRM; it’s about the myriad of additional apps that work with it. It’s about using these new tools in a mobile-first way. We use the term Digitizing Your Sales Organization. Often, new digital capabilities, such as sales communications, can have a huge impact on productivity and overall customer engagement.
One thing is clear: Digital selling is the new normal. You can’t miss this step. I’ll be talking more about this next week in my Webinar – Digitizing Sales: Start with Sales Communications. Don’t miss it.
Editor’s Note: This is the first of many blog posts, podcasts, and videos that we will be publishing on our topic of Sales and Marketing. If you are interested in sponsoring one our monthly webinars, contact us.
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