SaaS Solutions Don’t Sell Themselves

Thanks to Keith Smith (@chiefdoorman) for sending me this great article on selling SaaS solutions into enterprise accounts. The article covers sales process, the keys to customer psychology, creating a customer value framework, and positioning your product in a competitive environment.

Yes, SaaS solutions have huge advantages over traditional on premise solutions including a compelling try before you buy commercial strategy. However, this doesn’t negate the need for salespeople selling SaaS solutions to deeply understand corporate objectives, business unit strategies, and the challenges prospects face in achieving those objectives. Once needs and challenges are understood, the creative work of a salesperson can begin – matching solutions from your portfolio and your broader network to help drive your prospect’s business forward.

If you found this post interesting, you may also be interested in my posts on BANT and The Power of Three.

Great PR Advice

Thanks to @JoannaLord for surfacing this great article from First Round Capital featuring Facebook’s Head of Tech Communications, Caryn Marooney.  http://goo.gl/g3ZzzC

There were two primary takeaways for me:

  1. Use the RIBS test when thinking about your PR message.  Is the story Relevant?  Does it feel like the outcome is Inevitable?  Is the story Believable – that is, are you and your company credible?  And, is the message Simple?
  2. I loved Marooney’s seven deadly sins.  I’m guilty of several (but working on it).

I hope you get as much out of this as I did.

11 concepts to become a better leader

I wanted to amplify Dave Kerpen’s recent post on LinkedIn about traits of great leaders.  I was happy to see several characteristics that are important to me show up on his list as important: Integrity, Transparency, and Gratitude.  While I’m calling these three out, I want to be careful not to diminish the others he has identified.  The article is well worth a read – as I suspect is his book, Likeable Business, which just made my reading list!

Thanks to Suzanne Leamer for sharing the article with me!

Lead your sales team like a Superbowl Champion

OK, I’ll admit it.  I’m a lifelong Seahawks fan and I am really proud of the season the team had this year.  So, when I saw Henry Schuck’s article, Five Ways to Model Your Sales Leadership After Pete Carroll, this morning I was hooked.  In addition to a catchy title, it turns out Henry made some really good points:

  • Practice, practice, practice – Give your sales team every opportunity to present and demo in low-risk environments.  During sales meetings I ask members of the team to deliver a training on a feature, competitor, product, market, win or loss.  Not only is this educational for the rest of the team, it gives the “trainer” an opportunity to practice valuable preparation and presentation skills.
  • Play great defense – Know your competitors.  Gather data from their website, past customers, former employees, analysts, webinars they put on.  Understand how they position themselves, their weaknesses, what they feel their competitive advantages are, and how you defend against those claims.
  • Use data to drive performance – I firmly believe you can’t run a sales organization without strong systems and processes, and CRM is the heart of this.  Without these systems in place and clear processes used religiously, you are blind as a business leader.  Assuming these systems are in place, trend total revenue, factored revenue, deal close rate, average deal size, length of sales cycle, team, and individual performance. For more information on CRM and processes, check out the sales forecast template I included, here.
  • Make adjustments in real time – If you see something that is not working, fix it right away.  If a player is under-performing openly talk with them about it.  Give them a chance to improve and move them into a more suitable role or out of the organization if they don’t.
  • Keeps the troops motivated and passionate – Ensure goals are well understood and celebrate wins.  Carry your top performers around the office on your shoulders.  Make a big deal out of the successes your team experiences throughout the year.

Global smartphone metrics

Great infographic regarding smartphone use, demographics, market share, and worldwide penetration.  One glaring miss on the infographic, though, is online spend by OS. According to IBM, smartphones running Apple’s mobile operating system delivered e-commerce sales at a rate of almost five times higher than Android at a rate of 12.7 percent versus 2.6 percent during Q4, 2013. Continue reading

Mobile payments game changer

Broad use of mobile payments has been a glimmer in our imagination for several years now but the medium has failed to achieve scale for a number of reasons (I’m looking at you, carriers).  It appears that Apple is ready to enter the game – mobile payments for physical goods.  If that’s true, we are likely at a tipping point for the shift to mobile payments in a big way.

Check out this article on the topic from Tech Crunch.

The power of three

When qualifying a prospect I often ask questions requesting responses in threes. For example, I might ask “What are the three biggest challenges you anticipate facing over the next year?” or “Tell me about the three biggest opportunities ahead of you for the coming year?”.

My experience has been that asking for the top challenge or opportunity allows prospects to respond without much thought. And, people seem to get stuck if you ask for their top five or ten responses. Normally the top challenge or opportunity comes quickly and is generic, not leading to a substantive conversation. The second comes after some thought. I generally need to poke them for the third response. However, I find that is often the most thoughtful response given – leading to a meaningful business conversation.

Remember the power of three in your next sales call and don’t let your prospect off the hook until they give you three good answers. You will be amazed where those conversations take you.

Qualifying opportunities – BANT

The sales pipeline is one of few forward-looking business planning tools available to business leaders. In order to develop the most accurate sales forecast possible, it is important to fully understand the nature of the opportunities reflected in the pipeline. Opportunities are little more than wishful thinking if your salespeople don’t have a good handle on BANT – Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. Continue reading

Measure what you can influence

I read an excellent blog article this morning from Jason Jordan about sales and business metrics. The gist of the article was that sales and business leaders often measure things they can’t control, and don’t measure enough things they can control.  While I don’t agree with everything in the article, I couldn’t agree with the premise more.

Most businesses spend lots of time and energy tracking and measuring metrics that are backward facing like revenue and profitability. Certainly, those are critical measurements of health but they don’t help much in terms of business planning except to provide context. In my experience the sales pipeline is the most accurate way to forecast revenue and plan business investment. This assumes of course an accurate pipeline.  We will address that topic ad nauseam here, but not today. Continue reading