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Insight

Konrad Lorenz, the Nobel winning ethnologist, noted that humans feel affection for animals with juvenile features: large eyes, bulging craniums, retreating chins, etc.  Small-eyed, long-snouted animals do not elicit the same response.  All humans are susceptible.  We all have a bias towards the cute; like meerkats, giant pandas, and of course the gorilla.  So, sales recruitment is easy – look for the candidates with short snouts!  Perhaps they will be more successful than their longer-snouted colleagues.  So, our Top Tip for recruiting in Sales…Employ the cute-looking, big-eyed, short-snouted candidates with attitude!

 

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Insight

Writing compelling proposals and tender responses is key to sales success.  We have a number of tips that will help you ‘raise your game’, improve your win rates and help you earn more commission.  The most important lesson is to remember that it is a game, and it is all about scoring points, and not just answering the question.

 

What do we mean?  Well, think about it from the evaluators’ perspective.  What are they looking for, and how they will score the responses?  Be bold and ask for a copy of their scoring mechanism. Often, they will be provided.  Remember, that just answering the question will only score you average points.  You want to ensure that you score the maximum possible number of points. 

 

How?  You need to demonstrate to evaluators that you are the ‘best bet’.  Our top tips are to:

 

  1. Give confidence in your ability to deliver – give examples of where else have you delivered something of a similar (or bigger) scale recently.
  2. Outline the credentials of the delivery team – show their expertise and where they have done this before.
  3. Demonstrate the benefits of your products and services, how they meet the business need, and how they are better than, or differentiated from the competition.

 

At Performance Quest, we offer a tender review service.  We score your responses and tell you how to improve your scores, before you submit.  This gives you an opportunity to improve your submission, score more points, and increase your chances of winning.  We offer a range of services from a simple scoring/review process to a full re-write service. 

 

We use a simple model to evaluate your submission based on 6 criteria:

 

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Insight

Remember, there are only two jobs in sales.  Yes, just two tricks to master.

 

  1. Build relationships with your clients – understand their needs and their business.
  2. Write compelling proposals that beat the competition.

 

Arguably, ever other activity in sales is a distraction!  Of course, in reality working for any professional organisation will require some of your time for corporate activities such as reporting, team meetings and chasing invoices etc.  The key is balance.  The majority of your time should be spent on the two things that matter. 

 

  1. We all know the importance of relationships – people buy from people. So, investing time building relationships and systematically networking is crucial to sales success. 
  2. Secondly, at some point a proposal is going to be needed. Learning how to write compelling proposals will ensure you win more.

 

Do both, that is build strong relationships and write a compelling proposal and you will improve your chances of winning enormously.  Pure magic!

 



 

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Insight

Virtually all companies want more sales, but most fail to achieve sustainable growth figures.  Why are they so bad?

 

Performance Quest sees two fundamentally different philosophies that are adopted by companies trying to close more sales.

 

The first, takes the position that sales is a job undertaken by individuals and that individual sales performance is the main thing that needs improving.  They tend to hire and fire salespeople on a regular basis, and rarely achieve stability, attract the best people or create a repeatable sales process.

 

The second considers, not the performance of individuals, but the sales effectiveness of the entire organisation.  For them, ‘sales’ is a philosophy of working.  These organisations succeed in both good and difficult times.

 

At Performance Quest we see both approaches and know for sure that the only one that delivers sustainable results is the latter.

 

WHAT CULTURE DO GOOD SALES MANAGERS NURTURE?

Good managers encourage a culture where their teams recognise both internal and external customers.  Without doubt, the most successful sales functions are led by experienced managers that understand that the sales department they manage serves two customers; the internal customer and the external customer.

 

WHAT DO INTERNAL CUSTOMERS NEED FROM SALES?

At the highest level, in the interests of helping to drive sales, internal customers need QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL. 

  1. The first thing internal customers need is high QUALITY reports and at least one of the reasons they need those reports is so that they know how they can help sales.
  2. Another key thing they need is ACCURACY in forecasting so that they can manage the business, recruit staff, and allocate resources to the right campaigns at the right time.
  3. They also want to see evidence of RIGOUR in the sales process. They don’t need to be operationally-led but they do need to manage risk and be confident that they can deliver (and make profit on) what is sold.  It is perfectly reasonable therefore that those internal customers should expect the sales function to follow internal governance procedures that protect the company from risk.
  4. Finally, they need sales to be in CONTROL; thinking ahead; providing internal customers with as much advanced notice as possible for them to be able to release resources with minimal impact on other projects.

 

WHAT DO EXTERNAL CUSTOMERS NEED FROM SALES?

Just like internal customers, external customers need the sales function to demonstrate QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL.  Interestingly, external customers want very similar things.  They actually want to be sold to; not crassly, but professionally.  They need a competition for their business, which can only come from credible proposals submitted by credible suppliers.  In other words, they too are looking for QUALITY.  They want that but first and foremost they want you to have listened to them, understood them and proposed products and services that address their needs.  They need you to demonstrate ACCURACY in replaying both their business and personal needs.  Of course, they want you to have complied with their procedures.  Indeed, for government bids, if you don’t you will be out. 

 

And why shouldn’t they?  If you can’t do what they want during the buying process, what chance have they got after it?  They expect you to demonstrate the same RIGOUR that your internal customer needs.  Finally, they want to see that you are in CONTROL.  Never ask for an extension for a bid.  Do what you say you will do.  Do it when you say you will do it. Exceed their expectations if you really want to win

 

WHY FOCUS ON QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR AND CONTROL (QARC)?  By managing QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL we are focusing on the future.  Monitoring the performance of individuals is no more that looking at the past.  By focusing on QARC we are focusing not on performance (which is about the past and therefore pointless) but on the fundamental factors that drive performance.  The great thing about that is that we are influencing the future. 

 

If we meet the needs of internal customers, we retain internal support and the company works together to present its propositions in the best possible light.  Of course, if we meet the needs of external customers too, we end up on the client’s shortlist and stand a real chance of winning new business.  The slight downside is that QARC is a model of interdependent parts and failing to focus on any one component means the whole thing breaks down.  So how might we use it to baseline sales effectiveness and drive sustainable improvement?

 

A SIMPLE APPROACH TO BASELINING EFFECTIVENESS.  Even at the highest level, breaking down sales effectiveness in to the 4 components of QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL can be enlightening and provide a focus for change.  There are too many subjective opinions about sales and even a simple model can help to focus on areas for change.

 

Performance Quest strongly recommends that INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL improvement is a parallel process.  Far too many times we have seen not only a focus on the wrong thing (like CONTROL rather than QUALITY) but also a heavy focus on INTERNAL improvement at the expense of time and energy being spent on improving EXTERNAL effectiveness.  But, actually, whether we’re trying to better satisfy our INTERNAL or our EXTERNAL customers we need even more detail to drive improvement.

 

DRIVING CHANGE.  To drive sales effectiveness, we need do no more than baseline where we are today and then improve.  The problem is that many organisations are not rigorous enough in how they define what excellence looks like.  Each has to be based on metrics that are indisputable by anyone in the organisation.  And the definitions have to be created for QUALITY, ACCURACY, RIGOUR and CONTROL.  Many companies buy in standard sales processes that do not work and certainly do not differentiate.  In doing so they go down a path of monitoring sales performance, rather than managing sales effectiveness.

 

Performance Quest offers an alternative, and in our view better, approach.  To drive sales effectiveness across the organisation we need to move away from the subjective to objective measurement and unambiguous definitions based on metrics that are indisputable.  It can be done and will deliverable sustainable improvement.

 

SUMMARY·

  • Managing sales effectiveness is far better than managing sales performance
  • Subjective opinions about sales performance are unhelpful
  • Sales functions must recognise both internal and external customers
  • Both customer groups need to be satisfied to succeed
  • Baselining is required before measurable improvement can be made
  • Baselining should be based on metrics and SMART objectives

 

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Insight

Doubling your performance is often far easier than trying to squeeze another 10%.  Why?

 

Quite simply to double your performance you will need to think of new things to do, not just do more.  That is the secret to breakthrough performance.

 

You’ve heard all the adages – Work smarter, not harder, or do different things, don’t just work differently.  In many parts of the organisation ‘transformation’ is the order of the day.  Whether it is Lean Six Sigma, Business process re-engineering, or any other technique that is the ‘game changer’ – what about sales?  What can you actually do yourself to achieve breakthrough performance improvement?

 

We think it is quite simple really.  Focus on:

 

  1. Qualifying your opportunities – to improve your win rates and get time back – by not wasting time chasing deals you won’t win
  2. Building relationships with your clients – people buy from people they like
  3. Systematically networking – and systematically is the key!
  4. Writing compelling proposals that score highly under evaluation – learn to write to score points, and not just to answer the questions

 

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Insight

Don’t waste time chasing deals you will never win.  Learning how to properly qualify a sales lead/opportunity is essential, and we believe it is the one skill that can make the biggest difference to a sales professional’s success.

 

The best salespeople qualify their opportunities regularly, not just once, but consistently throughout their campaigns.  Don’t rely on your ‘gut feel’, but objectively evaluate your qualification status.

 

Too many sales professionals waste time and effort chasing opportunities they will not win.  If you have a win rate of 1 in 5 (20%) and you could easily identify the deals you were likely to win and only pursue them, you could stay in bed, or be on the golf course for 4 days a week!  Alternatively, spend your valuable time chasing good prospects and win more!  Qualify each lead before you spend your time and the company’s resources on them.

 

There are many qualification tools in the marketplace, each with their own training courses and methodology – BANT, MEDDIC, CHAMP, ANUM, FAINT, MEANCATS, etc.  The one we prefer is SCOTSMAN:

 

  • Solution – do we have a solution (product/service) to meet the client’s business need?
  • Competition – do we know who our competitors are?  Can we beat them?
  • Originality – do we have unique benefits (originality) we can describe to the client?
  • Timescales – are the client’s timescales realistic?  Do they work for us?
  • Size/Strategy – what is the size/scope of the opportunity and does it fit with our sales targets and strategy?
  • Money – Does the client have an adequate/realistic budget in mind?
  • Authority – am I talking to the person with the authority to spend – the decision maker?
  • Need – does the client need what I am offering?  Have I communicated how my solution satisfies their need?

 

Qualify your sales opportunities quickly and easily using SCOTSMAN.  Done properly, you can prioritise your effort and identify the opportunities worth spending more time on.

 

Performance Quest helps organisations develop bespoke qualification tools for their sales teams.  We even have an easy-to-use web application that takes all the hard work away and enables sales professionals to run the qualification questionnaire immediately after each sales call.  It takes just 5 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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