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Better Digital Sales Professionals
As Inside Sales moved beyond the telephone, digital sales took shape. Digital Sales is used to describe the mechanism for customer engagement through the power and possibilities of technology.
Advanced analytics now provide organizations with the ability to marry data from multiple sources and utilize intelligent algorithms to define the specific parameters for the next sales call. This closed loop approach is improving call connectivity ratios, as well as reducing the cost of sales by a fair margin.
Our engagements in building Better Digital Sales Professionals include the following.
Digital Sales and Account Planning
Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
The least common denominator for planning is the Account. For a digital sales professional, their ability to meet quota is indexed on a strong pipeline, and the best source of a solid pipeline is through Account Planning. In several organizations, account planning is a customary Q1 ritual with some meetings, some pipeline generation, and some PowerPoint slides. This ritual has led to sellers questioning the value of the entire exercise that finally results in missed quotas and challenged customer relationships. There must be a better way.
Principles behind our approach to Account Planning
How do we engage?
Account planning engagements involve the identification of specific accounts and account teams for the planning exercise.
The first planning session is led by our master facilitator using a coaching approach to drive the planning process for one identified account team. The digital sales managers observe the conduct and take notes so that one chosen manager can replicate the process for a different account later in the day.
This cycle of observation and application is driven for multiple industries so that the managers understand the nuances of facilitation and coaching across different industries and teams.
Impact driven for customers
Digital Sales Managers who have experienced our account planning engagements talk about their ‘A-Ha’ moments when they realized that what they know is very different from what they should ideally know. Principles of facilitation, structuring meetings and conversations, utilization of frameworks to facilitate stretch thinking are all elements that they find valuable.
Sales professionals who experience these workshops talk about discovering a new normal for the quality of their account plans. They also realize the impact of facilitated account planning that helps them focus on the customer rather than on the process. They are sometimes surprised about the quantum of opportunity that lies untapped within their customers. The joys of teaming, and building accountability to customer outcomes, are also exercises that transform how they think about aspiring together.
Organizations who invest in these Account Planning workshops are pleasantly surprised to see multiple millions of $s of additional net new pipeline. At Tripura, we have had the pleasure of running hundreds of these sessions across the globe and have generated close to $5 Billion in net new revenue for our customers.
Customer Engagement Scenario
The discipline to track planning to revenue
Our customer is among the Big 5 in the Business Applications Market world-wide. To sustain their edge, they had bought IP from Tripura Multinational to define their Deal Qualification discipline world-wide. Our IP currently filters 3 billion of their opportunities every year. In addition to deal discipline, they quickly realized the need to build greater pipeline so that they could be assured of overachievement through the fiscal. This desire for more is what made them get in touch with Tripura Multinational again to amplify their pipeline volume.
Success is created twice – once in the head and the second in reality. When it comes to aspirations, human nature is to look back and incrementally predict the future. Keeping this principle in mind, we designed an engagement that allowed the customer’s sales organization to appreciate the larger market opportunity and hence their addressable opportunity. The contrast between their addressable opportunity and their current realization helped them move out of incremental thinking into multiplier thinking. Once the art of the possible is realized, they quickly moved to land that possibility in the common language of money, customer capabilities and customer business requirements. Managers watched us in action on how we simplified, synthesized, and sequenced the art of pipeline creation. The managers then took turns to apply their learning with different customer accounts so that they could become independent coaches to their own teams rather than depend on eternal engagement through us.
Initial Results within Southeast Asia, netted our customer a total additional pipeline volume of 125 million dollars. Through diligent tracking of their CRM and through qualification and acceleration of the pipeline, they were able to attribute 8 million dollars of additional revenue closure, due to our engagement with them, which meant an ROI of greater than 20x. This blending of aspiration, capability creation, measurement and tracking became a best practice which was then subsequently rolled out to other parts of Asia.
Needless to add these types of engagements across multiple customers over the past few years have helped us create over 5 billion dollars in net new pipeline for our customers.
To build strong pipeline and stronger account plans, now is the time to take action.
Better Deal Execution in Digital Sales
Of the many challenges facing digital sales organizations, the one of hope-casting is perhaps the most frustrating. Sellers are not the only ones to be blamed. Over estimation is an inherent human characteristic. When digital sales leaders understand this nuance of psychology, they can then look out for ways to remove the dysfunction of hope-casting.
It is our belief that deal qualification is the core of selling. Just as the strength of the core defines the strength of the human being, the strength of their deal qualification discipline defines the strength of a digital sales organization.
Our Principles that underpin this engagement
Most of our customer engagements stem after they miss their forecast either for the quarter or the half. We then subject the top 10 deals for the next quarter to flow through our deal coaching sessions, so that the opportunity pursuit teams can assess the quality of their qualification, identify risks associated with the deal, and develop actions to mitigate those risks.
In addition to these powerful outcomes, digital sales teams also realize the extent of their integration with other teams, and the split of responsibilities required across teams, to secure their top deals.
Customer engagement scenario
Traversing the journey from “hopecasting” to forecasting for one the largest software companies in the world
When the deals start slipping, the quantum of reviews only go up. With multiple quarter commitments getting missed, our customer realized that turning the dial on reviews was becoming counter – productive. They decided to use our expertise as a third-party verification and validation mechanism to help their sales teams confront reality and improve the quality of their deal qualification.
In partnership with the customer, we identified the top 10 deals for the fiscal that were crucial for their success. Deal coaching calls were structured with the entire opportunity team in attendance. After establishing a container of safety, we leveraged the art of powerful questioning to help the opportunity teams think deeper and smarter about their value and differentiation. Combined with coaching around stakeholder management, competitive strategy, partner eco-system linkage and customer consensus, the opportunity teams were able to identify the top risks that confronted them and then built a strategy to mitigate those risks.
Over 60% of the top 10 deals closed better than forecasted. In addition to learning the finer nuances of deal management, sales managers and regional leaders understood the importance of taking a coaching approach to progressing top deals towards closure. Sustenance of these learnings through their application to other deals in the pipeline, is another positive outcome of this engagement.
Customer acknowledgement testimonial
To build better deal execution capabilities, now is the time to take action.
Digital Sales Conversations Leveraging Business & Financial Acumen
In physics, resonance is defined by the matching of frequencies that increases amplitude. In sales, the ability to resonate with customers is important for meaning and motivation to be established in the conversation. The lack of resonance is very easy to decipher – the lack of progress on deals is a surefire indicator of mismatch of frequencies in client conversations.
For sellers to make sense to customers, they need to possess a foundation of three core capabilities:
- The ability to talk the language of business and industry, broadly called business acumen
- The ability to talk the language of money, specifically called financial acumen
- The ability to talk the language of senior executives, loosely called executive conversations
How do we engage?
When customers discover a fall in pipeline volume, a decrease in velocity and a deterioration of quality that is when they reach out to us. Rather than spending time on internal reports, we spend time observing the quality of customer conversations. The extent of customer acknowledgement of the value and learning within the call is a leading indicator of the need to invest in capability building in business acumen, financial acumen, and executive conversations.
Our engagements are designed both as workshops for knowledge assimilation and as “real plays” for field application.
Clients who have experienced these engagements talk about increased access to decision makers, increased deal sizes and faster deal closures. They also talk about the levels of peripheral intelligence displayed by their field and the quantum of insights they bring back from their client conversations.
Customer engagement scenario
Accelerating Client Value through Business and Financial Acumen
The global business services arm of one of the Big 4 Consulting Companies was facing a strange issue. Even in an environment where they were a captive delivery arm, their penetration within their member firms worldwide was in the low double digits. This was despite the fact that a global mandate existed to leverage the business services arm. They turned to us to help them increase their levels of penetration.
We realized quickly that the gap in penetration was really a gap in resonance and conversation. The business services arm was talking of more people and process whereas the member firms were expecting the language of business, money, measurements, and outcomes. We designed a series of workshops for various groups for them to appreciate the new normal for client expectations and how they could skill up to meet those expectations.
We then put this into action. We designed a series of coaching sessions with specific leaders so that they were able to lead by example on the skills that needed to be demonstrated, and also coach their teams to resonate better with their clients. The ability to build a set of proactive insights, engage customers through storytelling and control conversations to outcomes were all part of the engagement.
Feedback from the workshops was extremely positive with many attendees pointing to the value that they could apply every day. Because it was a workshop, every person brought in a crucial client relationship that they wanted to transform. All of the tools, methodologies, and frameworks that they learnt could be readily applied within their client context. Client penetration moved by several points. The workshop and coaching sessions started prior to Covid19 and continued virtually with no loss of fidelity, clarity, or value.
Customer acknowledgement testimonial
To build business acumen and financial acumen capabilities in your sales professionals for better customer success, now is the time to take action.
Negotiations in Digital Sales
Good negotiation skills are not a substitute for poor selling skills.
Negotiation is often associated with price negotiation, while missing out on the more important components of negotiating for value and negotiating for access. If these two negotiations do not happen, it does not matter how good the price negotiations go, since your relationship will be commoditized. You will always be looked upon as a vendor as opposed to being a partner or an advisor.
Principles that underpin the engagement
How do we engage?
Typical client engagements start with their articulation of poor price realization in strategic deals. Clients see an increased usage of discounting, most often towards the end of the quarter, as a leading indicator of field incapacity to create and claim business value.
Our workshops keep active opportunities and negotiations at the center and then develop an approach to create business value in customer terms. This value is then leveraged to gain access to multiple stakeholders, so that a consensus on value is developed and the opportunity is morphed into an organizational business priority. The duopoly of value and access negate the need to negotiate for price. The ideal sales teams are those that make procurement a tick box exercise.
Knowledge without field application is sales hallucination. The ability to negotiate well, and throughout the sales cycle, is a fundamental skill that requires reiteration and reinforcement. We work through sales managers so that they can coach their teams on and off the field in their ability to apply the principles, practices, and disciplines of good negotiation.
Customer engagement scenario
Building negotiation acumen for better value, access, and price
The Asia Leader of a large business applications multinational was worried about the quantum of discounts that were happily traded away at the end of every quarter. She wanted to stem the rot and also build capabilities and skills so that the field is not held hostage to the penuries of the quarter end. They turned to us to design an engagement that would solve for the present as well as inoculate for the future.
In addition to recommending some changes to the compensation and rewards mechanisms for seasonality and discounting, we also designed a workshop that would get the sellers ahead of their buyers. The foundational disciplines of value creation, stakeholder management and negotiations were weaved in within the context of their own opportunities and aspirations. Managers had the explicit role for facilitating their team’s learning rather than leading with their expertise.
Coverage of the games people play in negotiations and role playing those situations had a deep impact on how sellers could build situational fluency to address games buyers play. This trio of psychology, principles and practices provided a rich tapestry of scenarios for the sales teams to build situational fluency and exercise control on deal negotiations and progress.