Last week I had the pleasure to attend Sales Hacker’s Sales Stack 2015 conference located right on the saffron blue San Francisco bay. Several hundred sales leaders joined to network, explore new solutions, learn, and participate in active panel discussions led by industry-luminaries such as Ken Krogue, Bill Binch, David Premier, and Aaron Ross.
Much of the discussion revolved around prospecting, sales development, and engaging leads. Many useful hacks were divulged, lessons once learned in the collective years spent on phones, on the road, and in meetings.
Notable Mentions From the Conference
LinkedIn’s Brian Walton discussed the value of subject lines in outreach, sharing an anecdote about how an SDR creatively captured a prospects attention with a clever, personalized pun. In doing research, scanning the client’s social profiles, noticed that she was an avid scuba diver. The email subject line read “Help Your Team Scuba Drive More Revenue,” earning the SDR a foot in the door.
Armando Mann (@armandomann), VP of Sales & Customer Success SalesforceIQ, and a true sales veteran discussed the
unwavering value of connecting over the phone. Mann began his career in Argentina, in the unglamorous old world of sales with a phone book, landline, grit and instinct. Despite the new tools and technology, the phone remains the most effective method to prospect. “Five minutes on the phone is worth 50 emails,” and at his office they refer to the phones as ATMs – “if you want some money, you pick up your phone,” he joked.
Koka Sexton (@kokasexton) and Jill Rowley (@jill_rowley) discussed the power of social selling strategies, beneficial in establishing warm introductions but also in brand awareness, thought-leadership, and inbound opportunities. One bit of advice was “it’s not who you know, but what you know about who you know.”
Despite the treasure chest of knowledge in engaging
prospects, there was little discussion about the second half
of the sales cycle, specifically establishing pricing and generating a sales quote.
Why Efficient Quoting is a Sales Must
Anyone who is experienced in sales has had a deal stall because it either took too much time to get a proposal in a client’s hands, either because pricing approvals were lengthy or building the quote itself was manual and time consuming.
Slow quotes are caused by a number of factors, starting with poor product and pricing knowledge on the sales side. Many sales reps have a limited amount of insight in terms of the variety of product configurations that they can provide to a customer. This can get particularly difficult if your company has hundreds and hundreds of different products or services that can be bundled together. In a world where customers’ needs are getting more complex, being able to provide the right product to fit certain specifications is a necessity in order to stay competitive in the market. Tie that in with a lack of pricing knowledge, and your sales reps have now taken a few steps back compared to your competitors. Trying to find out what the price is for a certain service in a specific region, or what the discount percentage should be for a particular customer can all significantly slow down your sales cycle. So all of a sudden you’ve gone from a positive experience with the customer, to a negative experience that is constantly being dragged down by manual processes.
Another factor in quoting speed is accessibility. Do your reps need to be in front of their computers or in the office to put together a quote? If a rep is about to get on a plane, or is on a tropical island with no cell signal, can they still get the information they need to create quotes on the fly? Being able to produce a quote in a matter of minutes at the realm of your fingertips from a mobile device can be an extremely powerful advantage. Like I mentioned earlier, today’s competitive market is as intense as ever. Customers expect
deliverables now – or more like yesterday. If someone wants to
purchase your product or service, it is vital that you are able to provide them an accurate quote in a reasonable amount of time. Speed is a necessity and in order to beat out other vendors’, you must be able to generate a quote as fast as possible. You will run into bottlenecks if the only way to create a quote is by being on your computer or requesting approvals at the office.
How Best-in-Class CPQ Can Eliminate These Challenges
CPQ software can help your sales reps configure various product configurations that can tailor to customer needs and provide them the solution they need to be successful. No more digging through lengthy product catalogs or looking up countless SKUs to build the right product. In addition, CPQ gives sales teams full visibility into pricing constraints and discounts. You’re reps can avoid rogue discounting, and also product the most accurate quote that passes all pricing rules before it gets presented to a customer. Say goodbye to scrolling down long pricing books or spreadsheets. Equipping
your team with the right tools eliminates manual work and
accelerates sales velocity. CPQ enables sales reps to do what they do best – sell.
Don’t Forget The Second Half of the Sales Process…
The world of sales encompasses a vast amount of topics that are critical to closing a deal. However, we sometimes forget that there are other aspects of a sales cycle that can make or break a deal – aspects that occur after sending out an email with an awesome subject line or securing a 1 on 1 meeting. A lot of time is spent attracting leads to engage with you, so it’d be a shame to not put enough focus on the process when a prospect wants to buy your product – which should be the easy part. So the next time you’re engaged in a sales cycle, remember that top tier work is required throughout the entire sales process and not only in the first half.