Are you an open minded person sales professional? Most of you reading this will say “Yes, I am open minded” without really thinking through the question. Now more than ever we live in a world that is constantly changing. Keeping an open mind with your customers, prospects and other stakeholders is critical to your ability to survive and even thrive in this evolving and dynamic business environment. Unfortunately there’s no proven test to determine whether you are truly open-minded but the benefits are indisputable.
Here are just a few benefits of being open-minded:
- Greater credibility as a fair-minded expert: Keeping an open mind allows an opportunity for you to change with the constantly evolving selling landscape. It doesn’t mean you HAVE to change your beliefs but it means you are at least open to evaluating new ideas and views. You may end up believing even more strongly in your existing ideas but being open means you’ve evaluated all sides of an idea or belief which lends to your credibility with customers and stakeholders.
- Makes yourself vulnerable which opens the door to more authentic relationships: Having an open mind means you have to admit that you don’t know everything. It means being honest when you don’t know something. This can be uncomfortable as many sales people believe they are expected to be the expert and have all the answers. Many sales people unfortunately divert to the tactic of “overselling” where they sell based on what they hope to be true without verifying instead of simply admitting they don’t know. But seeing the world through an open mind is what makes you vulnerable and being vulnerable is the key to more enriching relationships. This vulnerability can be both terrifying and exhilarating but is required for true authenticity.
- Strengthens your character: Open-mindedness provides a springboard for new ideas and a baseline that you can build upon, piling one idea on top of another. Being open-minded typically allows for new experiences which collectively make you the person you are and strengthen the beliefs that you hold. It’s very hard to build on experiences without an open mind.
- Helps you to gain confidence. When you live with an open mind, you are continually learning and experiencing which contributes to a strong sense of self. You are not confined by your own beliefs, or the beliefs of others. You are open to evaluating new ideas without judgement. Imagine going into a new prospect’s environment and truly being open to the experience. Take the time to learn as much as possible about what is going on there without jumping to a quick solution. Then, and only then, can you really understand what is needed and propose an optimal solution. Over time, your confidence will soar because you will no longer be fearful of the unknown. You will welcome it because it will add to your experience as a seasoned sales and business professional.
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Tags: Cisco, karin surber, partner, Partner Plus, sales
Once upon a time, sales and marketing were in love
True, Marketing wanted a long-term relationship and Sales only wanted a one-night stand, but it was clear where everyone stood.
Then, the relationship began to change
With the advent of digital and social tools, buyers – not sellers – stepped into the driver’s seat. They began using online means to conduct ROI analyses before making final purchasing decisions. Today, according to Sirius Decisions, buyers are more informed than ever because they’ve got access to online content as well as an extensive online peer network. And, according to a recent DemandGen Buyer Behaviour report, almost half of buyers create a short-list of potential vendors and one- third conduct initial research on solution options before the first communication with a sales rep.
Marketing started to use tactics that buyers, not Sales, preferred
Marketing started to change too. As Cisco’s CMO Karen Walker has said, “Marketing was the last function to be industrialised and the first function to be digitised.” With the buyer in control, Marketers started moving away from outbound tactics like tradeshows, live events, and email campaigns that Sales was used to. We started using digital tactics that matched the buyers’ desire to look for information online using search engines, vendor websites, and social media sites. But neither Sales nor Marketing was happy. Things got so bad that Hubspot reported: “87% of the terms sales and marketing teams use to describe each other are negative.”
Enter Revenue Marketing
Like a good marriage counsellor, Revenue Marketing helped Sales and Marketing rekindle their relationship. In a nutshell, Revenue Marketing ensures that Marketing strategies and campaigns align with Sales and business objectives to generate a measurable ROI to the bottom line. Using Revenue Marketing principles, Marketing started to transform from a cost centre to a revenue centre. Marketing and Sales began to work in partnership again. And they began speaking the same language – using terms of endearment like planning, forecasts, pipeline, bookings, and revenue.
Back on track: Smarketing
Today, the romance between Sales and Marketing is back on. And, like all happy couples, they’re using a pet name: Smarketing. Hubspot defines the term Smarketing as “the alignment between your sales and marketing teams created through frequent and direct communication.” We’ve embraced the term and the concept here at Cisco, and here are four lessons learned to strengthen the relationship between sales and marketing.
4 Tips For Smarketing bliss
1. Speak a common language
It’s important to be on the same page. For example, here at Cisco, Sales and Marketing both know exactly what we mean by terms such as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL), Sales Accepted Leads (SAL), and Sales Qualified Leads (SQL).
2. Gaze in the same direction
Marketing and Sales must also share revenue goals and strategies. We have defined how much Marketing will contribute to Sales – both to the pipeline and to bookings. We have also articulated what each team will do to support the others’ efforts.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Once you’re on the same page, tune your operational systems to give visibility into results – and refine your processes continually. At Cisco, Sales and Marketing use common reporting dashboards and hold each other accountable. Both teams listen and respond to feedback.
4. Celebrate success hand-in-hand
Now that Marketing can concretely prove its value, both teams can celebrate together. This builds strong team morale.
Smarketing may be a cute term but it has very real ramifications. In fact, according to a study done by the Aberdeen Group, companies with strong sales and marketing alignment can get 20% annual revenue growth. Now that’s worth celebrating.
So please raise a glass and join me in congratulating the happy couple. To….Smarketing!
Tags: digital, marketing, revenue marketing, sales, smarketing
Each week, we’ll highlight the most important Cisco Partner Ecosystem news and stories, as well as point you to important, Cisco-related partner content you may have missed along the way. Here’s what you might have missed this week:
Off the Top
Karin Surber was here this week to discuss how Cisco partners are poised to succeed by using line of business selling. Wonder what exactly that is, as I did when we first started discussing it? Well check out Karin’s blog and she’ll give you the lowdown on how you are in a position for the best selling opportunity of your lifetime!
Karin walks you through solution selling, architecture selling and now line of business selling. Check out her blog and let us know what you think. Read More »
Tags: Cisco, karin surber, line of business selling, partner, sales, Weekly Rewind
The way we sell to customers continues to evolve. What works for a while may not be effective in a year or two because the market and buyers are continually changing. Back when I first started in sales many moons ago, the small regional company I worked for didn’t leverage any type of formal selling model. We were encouraged to personalize our sales approach, build relationships with customers and continually build pipeline. While these things are still important, they may not be enough to sustain your business. Understanding the various sales methodologies and applying those models that fit the maturity of your particular local market is critical for your long term success.
The first methodology I was able to leverage was Solution Selling in the mid 1990’s. With Solution Selling, the salesperson focuses on the customer’s pain(s) and addresses those pains with his or her offerings (product and services). The resolution of the pain is what constitutes a “solution”. Typically, we would focus on taking a “latent pain” (something that was always in the back of the customers’ mind) and create a sense of urgency around it. Since I was selling IT services, my questions and solutions were designed for IT Buyers. This worked very well for a few years as I was selling a limited set of solutions.
With Cisco in the mid 2000’s, we were focused on solution selling but it became a challenge as more and more of our products were designed to work together. We needed a selling methodology that would put our products and services into a much broader context for our customers. We moved to an Architectural Selling Model. Instead of solving for specific business problems, the architectural seller looks for opportunities to change and improve entire customer business functions by creatively applying their products and services. Here, an architectural seller from Cisco would look to determine how a large investment in Collaboration hardware, software and services can help clients improve the effectiveness and efficiency of how they collaborate, increase productivity and lower their total cost of ownership, accelerate time to market and increase revenue growth, improve customer satisfaction and generate new ideas. Typically this type of selling is directed towards IT buyers as well and results in much larger deal sizes. Read More »
Tags: Cisco, karin surber, lob selling, partner, sales
Most sales professionals hit the ground running every work day, focused on meeting with customers and prospects, doing what we can to move deals forward, and completing a multitude of other tasks necessary to get the job done. Often the weeks fly by without the chance to step back to take a breath and look at the bigger picture. But one of the most impactful things you can do for your business is to take the time to re-establish priorities and objectives for the coming year. Most larger companies have formal planning processes but smaller businesses and individuals often neglect this aspect of their business.
For most sales people, their focus and priorities are governed by their employer’s objectives. This works well for setting annual sales goals and associated job duties. But the business climate is changing at an astoundingly fast pace. Companies and individuals who don’t keep their finger on the pulse of industry changes miss the opportunity to stay in front of the competition. This translates to lost sales and credibility gaps with customers.
Looking for ways to reenergize your sales focus and stay on top of trends? Follow these tips:
- At least once a quarter, meet with your sales team to share insights on any new trends, concerns or opportunities you are seeing in your market over and above the day to day operational focus.
- Make sure you subscribe to at least two trade magazines, BLOGS or RSS feeds to keep up industry changes and announcements.
- Schedule time on your weekly calendar to actually read the magazines, BLOGS and feeds.
- Make a mental point to share your insights with customers and business partners to heighten your credibility as a go-to expert.
- Network with peers and new prospects on an ongoing basis. Networking is one of the most effective ways to find prospects and keep up to date with your local market.
- Attend at least one tradeshow or industry specific training event annually to maximize your exposure and keep up with new learnings.
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Tags: Cisco, karin surber, partner, sales