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Creating Competitive Advantage and Sustained Growth For Your Software Company
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Why is there no longevity? I believe it’s because most VPs of Sales have been successful sales people, but not successful leaders or managers. Why? Because they’ve never learned. No one has taken the time, or invested the money, to train them to be leaders, trainers, coaches, delegators, motivators, and inspirers. They have had few, if any, role models or mentors.
In response to this need, many software companies are engaging professional coaches to come along side their VPs of Sales to help them meet, and exceed, the demands of their job. The mature VPs of Sales are growing beyond their ego and interviewing several coach candidates and selecting one that best fits what they need.
Starting with the VP of Sales is important but we can’t stop there. In the last 3 years, training budgets have been non-existent. As a result, the VP’s sales force is in need of training. Many are using old school “manipulative” sales methods. They need to be using today’s best “customer-centered” selling practices. A more effective consultive, value-based selling approach will train them to sell the way their prospects want to buy.
It’s a buyer market. Our prospects and customers are smarter and shrewder today. They actually control more of the sales cycle than we think. To meet these new demands our sales forces need to move away from a self-centered selling approach that says, “It’s all about my software, my service, my quota, my commission and my-self.” Instead, we need to train them to look outside themselves to discover how they can be of service to their prospect. They need to know, and practice, “service and prospect-centered” selling.
Inspiration Software, an INC 500 Fastest Growing Company for the last 4 years trained their entire sales force on how to adjust their selling style to match the buying styles of their prospects. Their “chameleon-like” sales approach has increased their sales between 15% and 100% each of the last 7 years. Their priority is to develop prospect trust and confidence above and beyond anything else they do. They have proven the research that says over 80% of purchase decisions are made because of prospect trust and confidence, and not because of product features and functionality.
We invest thousands, and in some cases millions, of dollars in corporate identity, marketing communications and brand-building programs. Why not invest a little in the sales department? After all, they are the most influential and tangible assets that can be put in front of our target market(s). Let’s, once and for all, invest in our sales leaders and sales force as a way to establish competitive advantage.
In the last 5 years, most software companies have invested in at least one sales training seminar as a way to train and motivate their sales force. Unfortunately the “feel-good” experience lasts about 3 weeks when the sales force returns to their old habits. The thousands of dollars that was paid to the sales trainer is gone with little, if any, ROI.
Some software companies have dug deeper paying out much more money to implement an actual sales process or methodology. In many cases the process, like the CRM software they invested in to reinforce the same, receives little sales force buy-in and acceptance resulting in no use and no return.
In over 10 years of helping software and services companies establish custom corporate sales processes I’ve found the best processes are generally a hybrid of what has worked in the past, and the industry’s current best practices. Success of a customized process is often determined by management and by the seasoned sales people in the organization. If they buy-in and bless it, odds are it will succeed. Building and implementing a custom corporate sales process generally takes more time and money; however, once installed and working, it provides your sales force, and therefore your company, a significant competitive advantage that others can’t claim.
Misys, a $300M healthcare software company, invested in the creation of their own custom corporate sales process. They found that the year following their deployment, to their 150 member sales force, sales increased over 20%. Since deployment they have continued to tweak and enhance their process to match the demands of their different target markets and the needs of their new, and enhanced, software and services.
Once the sales process is designed, tested, implemented and proven it’s time to put some reinforcement processes in place. One way to do this is through your CRM software. If possible you want your sales force to experience the same things in their CRM software as they do in their sales process. It’s a great way to reinforce, and therefore increase, the use of both.
Hopefully you waited until your sales process was created and established before you purchased your CRM solution. However, if you didn’t and you are too invested in your CRM software to make a change, then you should invest in another reinforcement method. The second best reinforcement method is personal coaching for your sales team. Studies show that reinforcement coaching will more than double the sales process retention and utilization rate among your sales force. Inspiration Software can vouch for this as they have invested in monthly sales rep coaching for over 5 years and the results speak for themselves. Whether your CRM solution drives you to it or not, personal sales coaching is a good investment.
So there you have it . . . the 3 P’s . . . prospects, people and processes. An investment in these three things within your sales and marketing departments will not only create a competitive advantage, and therefore sustained growth for your company, it will also lead to an increase in sales, a decrease in cost of sales, and increased profits.
Jim Allen is President and Owner of Value Based, Inc (VBI). With an increasingly competitive marketplace, VBI's mission is to increase the sales, and decrease the costs of software sales departments, to help them become a competitive advantage for their company. To learn more about Value Based, Inc., click here www.valuebased.com or call 800-597-1873. To provide article feedback email Jim at: email@example.com.