Gartner recognized TopOPPS in the 2016 CRM Vendor Guide

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ThumbnailSee why Gartner recognized TopOPPS in the Gartner CRM Vendor Guide, 2016!

According to Gartner,  “adopters of opportunity management predictive analytic solutions cite improvements to:

  • Deal close rates
  • Win rates
  • Renewal rates
  • Pipeline
  • Revenue

Gartner has also noted that it improves the productivity of sales teams because it reduces the amount of time required to update forecasts and pipeline reports.”

Interactive Intelligence Case Study by Aberdeen Group

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Aberdeen Research interviewed our customer, Interactive Intelligence. In this case study Paul Weber, the Chief Business Officer, details why TopOPPS created a win-win environment for his sales team:
  • Sales mobility and speech analytics makes updates easy with a UI intended only for sales people
  • Predictive sales forecasting tells them which deals are more or less likely to close
  • Highly accurate opportunity scoring identifies deals in danger of slipping out or destined for low margin results, and reveals deals with up-sell opportunity or good momentum

See why Interactive Intelligence is “already convinced that TopOPPS is increasing their ability to more effectively manage our forecast accuracy and sales pipeline”.

Interactive Intelligence Case Study page one

3 Ways to Prevent Zombies in the Middle of the Funnel

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Flawed thinking has it that there’s nothing important or exciting about the “middle.”  Just ask Jan Brady or any nose tackle on a defensive line.  But the middle of your sales funnel is really important – opportunities have to be watched and decisions made based on status and progress.  Which ones will make it?  Which ones will fall out? What’s my next step?  The decisions we make on opportunities in the middle of the pipeline will prevent surprises later and will help us to put the right resources on the right deals at the right time.  If we don’t make the right decisions, or worse, neglect these deals, it usually results in fallout, or what I call “zombie” deals that linger around cluttering up the pipeline. These zombie deals steal time away from us on thought process, manager conversations and important resources.  If we do go about it the right way though, more closes, faster cycles and accurate forecasts happen.

So, in order to make the right decisions and make an impact in time, the focus should be on these three things:

  1. Deal Progress – This is your step-by-step sales process.  Most companies use stages to track deals and move them to the next stage as milestones are achieved and questions are answered.  Sales reps qualify deals for authority, need, urgency and money. I want to emphasize “authority.”  The information received on opportunities must be validated by the decision maker while anyone else tied to the deal is just to win them over.  Having a sales process aligns the reps for consistent behavior.  Details on deals are usually discussed verbally between a sales rep and their manager, but ideally all details should be recorded in the CRM.  By having this data up to date in the CRM, the manager can review deals and spend more valuable time discussing what plays to run and pointing out important pieces of the deal that are missing.  Also, if this detail is recorded in the CRM, analytics can be used to improve the sales process.
  1. Deal Momentum – This is where I look to find deals that are stuck and deals that have the right buyer engaged.  Typical things I look for to determine proper velocity are:
  • When was the last activity date?
  • When was the last communication with someone in authority?
  • Is the next meeting scheduled?
  • How compelling of a need is this that it can make someone buy now?

 

Once again, it’s better to have these things recorded in the CRM.  I do my prep work for the Monday sales meeting on Sunday, and I don’t want to contact reps on the weekend for questions or updates.  Also, at the end of the sales period, I want this information in the CRM for me to apply analytics on sales process improvement and performance.

 

  1.  Ideal Customer Profile – This is information about the ideal prospect, which provides more confidence that a close is inevitable.  For B2B sales, this is usually size, market or industry and whether you are engaged with the appropriate buyer who has purchase authority.  For B2C sales, I know an example of a company that sells solar panels and they look for certain credit scores of residences, homes where the roof faces south and for prospects to bring their utility bills to the meeting to compare the cost savings.  Once again, this is ideally recorded on every lead and opportunity in the CRM to track for analytics.

Do not engage resources or include pipeline deals in the forecast until you have a good handle on the above three things.  Applying a score, as a deal moves through the process on these three criteria helps enormously.  It is critical in determining how many will make it through the pipeline, which are worth resources, and which to apply to the forecast.

There’s nothing more exciting than adding confidence to a pipeline and forecast, but it’s even more exciting to close more deals at a faster pace by applying these three tenets to managing your pipeline.

Click here if you want to learn how to automate these processes discussed in this blog.

 

BANT Doesn’t Work

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Remember BANT, that old way to qualify deals where we find Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline? Well guess what? It just doesn’t work anymore for SaaS sales. Here’s the reason why:

You’re asking for the money too early.

Seriously, you haven’t even built any value, your depending completely on brand awareness and your qualifying leads out when you’re not even sure if you’ve found the decision maker.

I’ve got something new for you to try that works for me. Authority, Need, Urgency, Money or ‘ANUM’. Let me explain why ANUM crushes BANT when it comes to working deals through the pipeline.

When creating a new product or establishing a new market It’s often that a budget isn’t cut out or created for your product yet. So there goes the ‘B’ in BANT, right out of your sales office’s window. Also, with today’s specialization of sales roles, it’s easier to split up who has what responsibilities. I believe it’s the SDR’s responsibility to find the authority (the ‘A’)  and a piece of the need (the ‘N’). Identifying your ideal customer profile (ICP) can find you the authority in most cases. Also, identifying your ICP helps SDR’s focus on who they should prospect, which should ALWAYS be someone who is directly involved in the evaluation or buying process.

Finding a need.

I always tell our SDR’s, “find me one pain point or need.” There is two reasons for this:

  1. Building value – If you can find one pain point, talk to it, and let them know how our solution handles their pain it gets the wheels turning in their head. (This will also increase attendance rates for demos)
  2. Smooth handoff – You’ll know how smooth your  hand off is when at the beginning of the next discussion the AE can say, “I spoke with SDR, they said your main pain point was sales reps not wanting to input data into the CRM, is that true?” or some other specifically identified pain point.

The other half of NEED and Urgency/Money

Okay, AE’s, this is our job. We have to uncover more than just the surface pain. We have to find out why it hurts and then poke at the bruise. Then, we have to use methods to find other pain points the prospect didn’t even know they have. When it comes to Urgency and Money, creating a timeline and selling past the sale is the key. Do you ask your champions, “How have you purchased software like this before?” or “What steps do we need to take to get this done”? If not, you should and then share your sales process and next steps with them. This will help you find where their process and yours align.

If you’ve done all of this, identified the proper buying authority, created and established a need, built value and created urgency, asking for the money should be no sweat. The key is to sell beyond the sale with a success plan. If your team is using trials or POC’s, work with your sponsor to find out what their definition of a successful trial will be. Document it. Agree upon it. Get verbal commitment on price. Then close it for good (until you resell, of course).

Trust me, ANUM works. Mostly because it follows a process that is in line with todays sales model that places most of the buying power with the prospect. BANT has all the ingredients for success, but they are aligned in the wrong order. Take BANT and turn it into ANTB….or just use letters that kind of make a word and live by ANUM!

How I DRIVE Deals – Part I

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Identifying a sales process for a new business can be difficult. We are a perfect example of how matching your sales process with your customer’s buying habits is extremely important. As we’ve evolved our process and matched it with our customer’s habits, it’s become evident that gaining buy-in from all stakeholders is the most painful part. We came to a realization that getting buy-in from an entire team meant a few things, and one of those things was that we needed to be more transparent with our sales process. Who knew transparency can set expectations without causing an awkward moment?

It’s now second nature for me to say, “The next step in our sales process is an all sponsor demo, where we ask that all stakeholders be present.” I can repeat this throughout the initial demo and let it sink in with our sponsor. This is important because we have to empower our sponsor to take the next step. In our case, this step means literally pulling up your boss’s calendar and scheduling another meeting.

We know they have access to their boss’s calendar so if they tell us, “no, I don’t have access to the calendar” then there may be an additional objection that we need to handle before our initial sponsor is willing to move forward. However, identifying the yes’s and no’s as early in the sales cycle as possible helps save everyone’s time.

Nobody wants to be chased down with emails and phone calls, and we don’t want to chase anyone down either. Part of the process is always understanding that if this deal isn’t a good fit then let’s be open about it.

We stole the upfront contract from Sandler, we break up early in the conversation so you don’t have to. We also took a metric ton of information out of The Challenger Sale. In our industry, we can’t sell clicks. We can’t sell features of a product either. It’s all about the end result. Prospects need to know “WHAT DOES THIS DO FOR ME?! WHAT’S THE R.O.I?!”

Einstein Meme

In our case efficiency is one of the most evident cases to purchase our software and we hear this objection quite often, “I don’t have time to see a demo.” Our response is simple and true, “What if I could save you 3 hours a week, is that worth 30 minutes of your time?”

I digress, back to The Challenger Sale. Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, authors of The Challenger Sale, really drive home the point that to be a challenger you must be a teacher. You must challenge your client and let them tell you why they don’t want your product instead of begging them to buy it because of features and benefits.

TopOPPS utilizes this idea in our sales process stage called, “Compelling Need”. As a salesperson we need to understand not only what the surface pain is but also HOW does that affect their business? I mean sure, you missed your forecast, thats awful, but how does that affect your business? If we can understand the true underlying need, then we can establish value and a timeline.

In closure for part 1. I think it’s important to note that mixing sales methods to match your process and customer buying habits is important. Identifying key buying habits and the rest of the DRIVE sales process will be included in part 2.

So we’ve got this far. We understand what your pain points are and why they’re important to your company. We understand your initiatives and timeline for this purchase. So now, how do we get to closure? What decision makers have been involved? And has anyone given us verbal commitment? Do we understand how XYZ company makes their decisions?

What is a Sales Process?

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This may seem like a silly question – everyone knows what a sales process is, right?

Here at TopOPPS, we are devoted to helping other companies define, follow, and evolve their Sales Processes. In doing so, we have learned quite a bit about what works and doesn’t work in a Sales Process, and where the biggest holes tend to be.

Most people think of Sales Processes as a set of stages an opportunity must move through. Some take this a level further, and say there may be particular milestones within a stage that should be completed as well.

This is true – these components form the backbone of the Sales Process. TopOPPS pulls in your stages as they exist from Salesforce, and allows you to setup both global and stage milestones that impact the overall health % of an opportunity.

Here’s the problem though – most people seem to think the definition of a Sales Process stops there. Does it really, though?

In today’s world, a Sales VP has limited tools to get their team to play according to the strategy they have defined. This may mean data simply doesn’t get input into the CRM, or certain members of your team are falling into the same traps against particular competitors over and over again, or even just having team members skipping steps you feel are important to push the deal in the right direction.

We have seen all sorts of different kinds of attempts to solve this problem.

Some frustrated Sales VPs implement custom validation rules in their CRM, that trigger a blaring warning to their team members when data is out of date or not following the rules. This is all well and good – but it ONLY triggers when a team member tries to update an opportunity. This both results in data that sits in a bad state for a long time, as well as a further discouragement of updating data in general (“I just wanted to update this one field, but my CRM is forcing me to update these other 10 things… forget it. I’ll just deal with this later”).

Another common pattern we’ve seen is Sales VPs who run a Salesforce report to make a list of all opportunities with non-compliant data (outdated or otherwise). This report is then sent out as an email to their team members, or brought up in the Monday morning sales meeting, with the request that they update this data. This is effective, but grossly inefficient. Both your and their time would be far more valuable going over strategy.

Finally we’ve seen playbook patterns being outright ignored, either from difficultly in accessing that data, or just a lack of awareness of the plays your competitors are making against you.

TopOPPS changes the game.

With our Alert system, you can codify all your experience, sales process requirements, and competitor knowledge into Alerts. These Alerts can be merely informative (if stuck in stage 3 on a high value deal against competitor x, recommend executive visit) or require the sales rep to fix the data (your next meeting date is in the past).

Alerts that require a fix are presented in a todo-list style to your team members, and rapidly allow them to “quick-fix” the specific fields in error, or do a quick check-in, or dig down into the opportunity for deeper analysis and changes.

Our learning algorithm also watches your historical patterns, and makes recommendations to you on informative alerts to create about things you may not have been aware of (such as particular industry trends, or competitor’s plays).

In TopOPPS, your Sales Process is a combination of a backbone (stages / milestones) with an Alert system that blends together human intuition and experience, supported by insightful algorithms.

Simply put- your Sales Process isn’t complete without us.