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Why A Strong Sales Team Loves Change

Why A Strong Sales Team Loves Change

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Why? Because sales is the catalyst driving change at today’s best companies.  

Ever since I started in sales 25 years ago there has been one constant.  Change.  I’ve always wondered if I should change my job title on my business card from “Sales Executive” to “Change Maker”.

I’ve just seen the statement on LinkedIn “IDC estimates the total addressable market for Digital Transformation to be $4.5 trillion over the next five years.”.

Now I’m sure how the modern world deniers can continue to not expect that the modern world is here and that has meant a change with the past.  It would seem there are people that deny the internet exists and they deny mobile phones exist and they deny social media exists, or how else can some people still make the statement that nothing in sales has changed?

It does not matter if the IDC forecast is correct, by it’s very nature it is a forecast and therefore it will be wrong, but even if it’s 10% right.  That is a massive amount of change for business and these are business that you are trying to sell and market to.

I started in sales, pre-internet, writing letters out on a pad of paper and handing them to a typing pool.  Through to getting my first 386 laptop.  Even in those days people having emails was not common place.  The way you got hold of people was by sending them letters. It seems archaic now, but a great example on how things have changed.  Sorry to bore you with my life story, but sales has changed and will continue to change.

I’ve always worked in “new business”, which has meant building trusting relationships with people, quickly.  In most cases today as sales people we are required to be the agents of change, change makers.  What do I mean?

My career has been built on selling accounting solutions or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) as suppliers call it.  In all the instances I’ve needed to provide a reason for the organisation to change. There will have been an old, legacy, accounting system in place.  But change is disruptive, sometimes the systems were written in-house and the original programmers were still in role.  Or more recently, there was an on-premise system that had cost millions if not billions to implement and it was my task to convince people that they could get a better and cheaper experience by moving to the cloud.  What would happen to the in-house support team?

Again this is about change.  Crafting a cast iron business case, proving this out the IT (project and support) team the Finance Team, Architecture, the end users either in departments or at different operating companies (op cos).  This requires master resources across the prospective client and our own supplier companies so we are aligning our resources.

This requires us in sales to be agents of change, change makers maybe should be our job title.  If you haven’t read it then Deb Calvert has a great book “Stop Selling and Start Leading”.

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Why Social Selling is now Just Selling

Why Social Selling is now Just Selling

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Since we started Digital leadership Associates two and half years ago we have seen social selling go from an interesting ad-on to sales into the mainstream way of selling.

It’s been a hard slog since publishing the article “how to get 10 C-Level meetings a week using social selling” It is with anything that was seen as new. We worked with our clients and ground it out. The great thing being that each time we ran our program at a client, they got results. It is my business partner Adam Gray who always says “it isn’t enough getting results for clients, they have to know they got results”. Which is why, I guess, we do so much business through referral.

We are working with companies across sectors, Manufacturing, Agricultural, Professional Service, High Tech, Accountancy, Law, Media, Property Services, and Management Consultancy. Anywhere where a buyer needs to talk with a salesperson as the product is “complex” and companies just are not able to get leads and meetings through traditional interrupt marketing, such as cold calling, email blasts, advertising and events.

Going back to the start of all this, the article “How to get 10 C-Level Meetings a week using Twitter” was a break through, it was at that point that people stopped asking where the ROI was with Social Selling. We haven’t rested on our laurels we have continually pushed forward and innovated.

This year we watched a tipping point in April where people started taking on social selling and dropping other demand generation tactics, such as cold calling email blasts, events and advertising. Why?

In the B2B Enterprise space that we work in, we (and our buyers) have a shortage of attention. We are all busy people, we don’t look at advertisements, GDPR killed email marketing, it also pretty much killed off cold calling, but that was pretty much dead already. Also events don’t work, or they are just salespeople pitching. Nobody gets up in the morning and says “the first thing I want to do today is talk with an aggressive salespeople”. Social seems to have taken over completely not just in sales but also in marketing.

CMOs are coming to us and saying “Marketing isn’t working anymore” and if people are saying this, how many more are thinking this? It’s a classic case of “what got you here, won’t get you there” and I understand that things are scary for people.  Plus you have the vested interest of the various parties that are clinging onto to the old ways, as that’s how it’s always been down and that’s how they made a living.

There was a comment on Linkedin the other day that “nothing in sales has changed”, it’s sad. Sad that people are still saying, a vest interest I guess that the internet, social media and mobile hasn’t changed sales. Reminds me of the flat earth brigade.

Yes, there was an irony that “sales hasn’t changed” was announced on social media!

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Cycling, team work and programmatic social selling.

Cycling, team work and programmatic social selling.

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 | LinkedIn

I love a bit of cycling and I remember, many years ago, being enthralled by the Tour De France when it was first covered by Channel 4 on television the UK. Back then, the bikes weren’t hugely dissimilar to the racing bike I was riding myself. How times change.

Today, the bikes are worth as much as a new family sized saloon and have more gadgets and electronics than my first car! A friend of mine, that never wears lycra whilst cycling, has a German made bike with electronic gears!

Professional cycling now regularly appears of our screens, and all the Grand Tours are covered live – plus we get the chance to watch the major track events.

The speed the cyclists reach and maintain, even on mountain stages is phenomenal – they can ‘cruise’ faster than the top speed I can achieve and I’m sure they go up hills quicker than I can pedal on the flat!  That pace jumps another level in the team time trials (TTT). The record is currently held by Orica-GreenEDGE who clocked a crazy 57.841 km/h (35.94 mph) over a 25km course in Nice during the 2013 Tour De France.

For those of you not familiar with the TTT – the team will head off as one (that’s 9 rides in the Tour De France and Giro D’Italia) and riders take it in turns to lead, riding at slightly above their aerobic threshold while the others tuck in (draft) behind. The front rider is said to be ‘taking a pull’, the stronger riders tend to do a longer ‘pull’ than the weaker ones. Usually, when you finish your ‘pull’, you peel off and join the back of the group, resting as others take their turn.

The teams finishing time is taken the moment the 5thrider (or agreed number) crosses the finish line. Which means a team can afford to ‘drop’ a maximum 4 out of their 9 riders. You could say the weaker ones fall off the back of the ‘train’. The team’s performance is then based on how quick they can get the 5thplaced bike over the line – no point in a very strong rider racing off into the distance. The same for having the 5thdrift off the back. They work as a cohesive team – as strong and fast as that 5thbike.

This is similar to sales teams and programmatic social selling – much more can be achieved as a collective.

If, within a team of ten – one member writes two blogs a week, posts three pieces of content on LinkedIn and five tweets a day (plus likes, comments, shares and retweets) and then another only posts once every fortnight on LinkedIn and doesn’t tweet. That lack of activity dilutes the good work done by the most productive. Working as a team – sharing each other’s content through your respective networks, posting tweets and re-tweeting colleagues efforts – makes a huge difference.

Team work will get you seen more, generate more inbound, create more engagement and help build that all important pipeline. Team work will boost your organic search on Google and generate 20-30% of additional new business. Plus, the results generated by social selling as a team, means you can direct budget to areas of your business that needs it.

Team work and programmatic social selling will put you ahead of your competition – and that’s where you could stay. It’s up to you.

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You must read about my idea for a very, very special vegetarian restaurant

You must read about my idea for a very, very special vegetarian restaurant

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 | LinkedIn

I have a wizard wheeze – I should open a really impressive and slick vegetarian restaurant. I would dish up organic produce only, and it will be grown and picked with a 25-mile radius. The menu will be seasonal so I’ll only dish up vegetables that are meant for the table when you come in to dine.

Produce will be delivered to me regardless of whether a carrot isn’t within EU guidelines on size, or has secondary roots. Tomatoes won’t have to be perfectly round and apples won’t have to bulk up to hit their fighting weight. Everything on the menu will be loving grown, handled with care and cooked and prepared in a way to maximise flavour. The nutrients won’t be ‘cooked’ out of them.

I’d probably insist on green delivery vehicles to be used – doesn’t mean I’d insist on electric only vans as there is still debate on whether the manufacturing process and upkeep of electric vehicles make them the ideal choice. But there won’t be any old diesel engines spewing out thick soot.

For the fitout I’d opt for up and re-cycling whatever I can get my hands on and avoid leather and other animal-based products. An area I will pay huge attention to is the toilets – too many times I go to a nice establishment, enjoy a meal and then be horrified by the state of the toilet facilities. There is a gastropub near me that’s had a broken tap for over a year and the grime on the floor is awful. The management don’t care as people are still buying food. My place will be different – toilet facilities so clean we could put tables in there for diners.

And now for the master stroke – if any patrons of my vegetarian restaurant don’t like vegetarian food – they can order whatever they like. If they want shoulder of lamb they can have it, pork belly? You betcha. If veal is the preferred choice then veal it is. Foie gras or calf’s liver salad to start? The chef will dish it up without any fuss. And if you want that steak served up ‘blue’, all you have to do is ask.

How ridiculous does that sound? A vegetarian restaurant going out of its way to provide a fabulous vegetarian culinary experience – pandering to the requirements of the carnivores amongst us. It’s the dumbest idea ever.

Well, not quite the dumbest ever. I see ‘social selling’ companies and agencies that promote all that’s good about social media for B2B sales but, should you make the tiniest shrug of the shoulder or show the slightest lack of interest. They will reach into their out of date bag of tricks and offer you ways to cold call, send cold emails, attend events, direct mail, print brochures etc, etc, etc…..

Just as a vegetarian restaurant would by crazy to dish up meat, a social selling company would not only be nuts for offering support for out of date ways to prospect – they are also clearly not social selling experts.

If you want to learn about social selling choose a company that’s only focussed on social selling. Just as a blue steak has no place in a vegetarian restaurant, cold calling has no place in social selling.

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Cher sang – ‘If I could turn back time.’ Well I can with my Time Tunnel Mk3.

Cher sang – ‘If I could turn back time.’ Well I can with my Time Tunnel Mk3.

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 | LinkedIn

I have a master plan to make more money than ever imaginable.

I’ve been busy working in my shed at the bottom of the garden, perfecting time travel via my Time Tunnel Mk3. I’m so excited, I just had to tell you how my brilliantly cunning plan will make effective use of my machine.

Having seen so many of the world’s number 1 sales trainers and guru’s on social media, in fact I found one recently that’s so good, they are also number 2, 3 and 4. I’m going to enlist their help as they seem perfect for my quest. They all speak about their tales of ‘success’ and how they have made billions for their customers.

Should I do a bit more due diligence? No, don’t be silly – some of these people are so important and successful, they don’t even have to bother changing the stock blue hero image on their LinkedIn profile. When they do, it’s usually an image telling us how great they are. In fact, some are so gifted, they haven’t even had to work in sales for any significant amount of time. If they have, they were obviously so good they don’t even have to go into detail.

I’m talking super confident, super successful, super amazing individuals.

Anyway, back to my plan. What struck me was, out of so many of the world’s number 1 sales trainers and gurus, very few, if any, have actually grasped the concept of social selling. Lots of them still talk about cold calling, cold emails, leaflets, catalogues and events. Which is perfect.

And here’s the genius part of my plan. I’m going to speak to as many of them as possible and learn as much as I can. That way, when I take my trip in the Time Tunnel Mk3 back to 1991 – I will be the best salesman around.

Then all I will have left to do, is buy a Filofax.

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Lush pasture or barren land? How you should be prospecting.

Lush pasture or barren land? How you should be prospecting.

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 | LinkedIn

It’s not just at the end of year or quarter that focus falls on the sales pipeline – is there enough in there to hit target? Many businesses still rely on hope and luck to make their number and deals have no correlation to what the sales people put into their pipeline. The forecast is no better, salespeople will make sure it there or thereabouts, with what their manager has told them they need to do.

A big problem is you build up a nice healthy sales pipeline, then you work on closing the deals to make quota. Whilst you focus on contracts, your pipeline shrinks – so you then have to focus on building it up again – making no time for closing business. So, you have a bad month or quarter and the cycle starts again.

In one of the dips, sales and marketing heads will have a panic and probably kick off a lead generation initiative. This normally entails focussing, and spending money, on techniques that either should’ve been left back in the 1990’s, or, hoping Digital Marketing will be their saviour. Alternatively, the sales team will be told they need to focus on their own prospecting – with cold calling, cold emailing, events and other pointless activities to waste their time.

Before you have a conniption as I dismiss many activities you have probably instructed you teams to do, bear with me whilst I explain why businesses are wasting their time and money on how they prospect.

Imagine your business is a shop – it can be as large or small as you like, with a grand entrance and eye-catching window displays to each side. Inside the store, all your products, services and solutions are beautifully displayed.

Now let’s look at the ways you are probably prospecting;

  1. Cold calling, cold emailing or any other intrusive outbound method to drum up business.

Imagine you instruct all your stores sales staff to walk around the streets, not local ones, but in another town and entice, persuade or force members of the public to accompany you back to the shop – regardless of what they had been planning to do.

2. Digital Marketing

Just inside the entrance to your shop you get your fastest salespeople, lined up in wait. As soon as anyone walks past your store, regardless if they even bother to look into your window, your staff pounce and drag them in. They are a marketing qualified lead, a ‘hot prospect’ – they must be – they made the effort to walk past your shop.

Or we could try this:

3. Social selling

All your shop staff, yes all, not just the sales people, help promote the store. They dress the window, they tell all their friends about how great it is. They speak to lots of people about life, retail and they share their stories and experiences. Whilst doing this, they don’t bang on about how great your store is or, that you think you have the best products on earth. This earns them trust from the public who in turn may take the odd detour to walk past your shop. Maybe the second time they look to see what you have in the window.

Then, without being forced, your ‘prospect’ will walk into your shop and be genuinely interested in what you have to sell.

Who wouldn’t want to prospect like that – getting regular inbound?

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