About Pascal Persyn

Pascal supports organisations in delivering commercial excellence in the areas of Sales Enablement, Content Strategy and Buyer Journey Enablement. His pet projects are about helping companies overcome challenges due to the empowered customer and thus evolving into buyer-aligned organisations. His executive experience in private, VC-backed and public companies enables doing the right thing at the right time with the right people. Don’t hesitate to contact Pascal for expert advice: pascal@perpetos.com


In his blogpost on sales productivity and competency, The Value Shift CEO Dave Fitzgerald, discusses the most important reasons for the ongoing decline of quota attainment. In analysing results with our prospects and customers, we find overwhelming evidence that lack of knowledge and experience are the challenges to overcome.

Let’s have a look at the numbers first. CSO’s yearly study on quota attainment shows a growing problem. The number of companies achieving their revenue plans has decreased.

productivity01

The number of salespeople making quota is even worse and has declined to 58.1%, according to Jim Dickie at CSO Insights.

For over 25 years people have been looking at sales productivity as the combination of efficiency and effectiveness of their activities. This has been reiterated in a Miller Heiman blogpost from 2014.

 

productivity02

Although that definition of the productivity challenge might have been useful to create awareness in the sales community, it has not had the impact of actually improving results. For far too long the discussion has been dominated by sales training and methodology companies linking this challenge to a need for more training and for cloning the practices of top performers. This has spurred an annual spend of $24 billion in sales training, in the US alone, according to ASTD.

Let’s bury the past and analyse the current situation to come up with strategies that actually work in today’s competitive selling environment. Almost everybody agrees that customers are more informed and no longer accept being sold to.

So what has changed?

Sales has been able to cover up their lack of customer knowledge by explaining the features and benefits of their offering preferably supported by demos. The customer settled for that way of interaction with sales as they had no alternative. Yet in today’s market, people are able to educate themselves on these subjects without the support of a sales rep. This has led to revealing the ‘real’ problems confronted by sales teams.

The ability to add value in the sales conversation is the most important factor as proven by CSO Insights research, with 82% of senior executives indicating that content was a significant driver to their buying decision.

This has led to an increase of content production in the recent years and some vendors and analysts claiming that content marketing is taking over from sales.

Yet the 2015 B2B buyers study by SiriusDecisions proves that this has not solved the problem and is based on a misconception. The study reveals that there is an almost 50-50 divide between “digital” and sales interactions. These numbers are almost independent of the buying cycle complexity and the stage in the buying cycle as shown in figure 3. This kills a second misconception – a sales person is forced by the buyer to be involved only at the end of the buying cycle. So let’s stop using the CEB number indicating that 57% of the buying cycle is already done before salespeople are involved. The name of the game is meaningful conversations. Whether the conversation occurs via human interaction or non-human engagement, it’s valid as long as it’s relevant to the answers a buyer is looking for throughout the buying cycle.

productivityCDoes that mean that investing in sales content and training are no longer effective?  On the contrary both are more important than ever as it is more difficult to train sales people on business knowledge and industry expertise than it is to train them on product related knowledge. This calls for additional conversational selling skills as well.

What is all of this telling us as to how to overcome the sales productivity challenge?

Sales leaders need to initiate strategies to increase the salesperson’s ability to add value to the buyer/seller conversation. This is proven by the low rates sales teams are experiencing converting leads to decisions. In fact 60% of opportunities lead to a ‘no decision’ according to another study by CSO insights.

Investing in “efficiency” technologies and processes to have more conversations, albeit the same “bad/poor” conversations that are producing low conversion rates today, isn’t going to increase your productivity as much as investing in strategies focused on “effectiveness”.

productivity04Here’s an updated graph from Dave Fitzgerald’s post reflecting today’s B2B competitive selling environment:
Results – can be number of wins, revenue sold, quota attainment, (your choice)
Competency – the ability to do something well
Experience – skill or knowledge that you get by doing something
Knowledge – information, understanding, or skill that you get from experience

Time to implement a solution that works

Our analysis shows over and over that sales with more experience are by far the majority of top quota carriers. They have had the time to learn and improve their competence. So the solution has to have an impact on the ramp up time as well as the length of their tenure. During that time we need to improve knowledge sharing combined with a culture of continuous improvement. This will create the shortest time to experience, adaptive to changes in the marketplace.

In other words the solution needs to create a continuous stream of knowledge and experience sharing to improve the productivity of the entire team. So ask yourself the following 5 questions:

  • Is my sales process enabling sales management to coach people on doing the right thing at the right time?
  • Do we have content that is adapted to each phase of the buying cycle AND adapted to the different people (Buyer Persona) involved?
  • Are you re- packaging marketing content for conversational use by the sales team?
  • What is management actively doing to create a culture of knowledge sharing and continuous improvement?
  • Is our sales training continuous, snackable and integrating skills, attitude and company specific messaging?

 

productivityEThe figures, also based on a CSO insights study, are both aspirational and motivating to boost initiatives based on the 5 aforementioned questions. Talk to one of our experts and get custom and actionable input.


Commercial excellence is knowing your customers so well that you fully understand them as well as their surroundings. This allows your company to anticipate their needs and expectations via sales and marketing communication by telling the right thing at the right time and showing them the impact and value of what you have to offer.

Promoting your company or merely listening and asking questions no longer suffices to achieve commercial success. Buyers increasingly expect the right information at the right time. A number of elements are important in this regard.

Really know your customer

This includes aligning your activities to your customer’s expectations. Any contact with your company, personal or online, needs to contain the right message aligned to their willingness to buy. You can accelerate the sales process considerably by meeting their expectations with every contact.

In terms of results

It’s not about what your service or product can do, but about its value to your customer. How does it impact their organisation, what specific results can they expect?

Highest market price

A customer-oriented organisation strives for the highest market price for its products and services, but at the lowest cost from the customer’s perspective. This has a positive impact on your cost of sales and enables you to get results twice as fast.

How can you achieve this? You may ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do your product developers and officers have a good understanding of the importance of your products and services to the customer?
  • Do they know how the customer will work differently and what improvements will be accomplished?
  • Are all persons involved aware of how your strengths will contribute to a better result?
  • Can you say whether your products or services will give a better result than those of your competitors?
  • Do your customers recognise the link between your strengths and their accomplishments?

Becoming a customer-oriented organisation

Not every industry has noticed crucial changes in customer behaviour yet. Determine to what extent your customer target groups are already part of the experience economy. To what extent do they also use the Internet and social media to inform themselves? If this is the case, follow these four steps to achieve a more customer-oriented approach:

  • Ensure that your market is segmented on the basis of equal needs and reasons for purchase so that your sales messages can be used on a wider scale and are at the same time aligned in detail to each segment’s unique character. Take into account the possibly progressive character when doing so.
  • Map the obstacles preventing your employees from embracing new ways of working as well as possible motivating factors to change work patterns.
  • What current processes and KPIs obstruct a more customer-oriented approach?
  • Develop and implement a change project taking into account all of the aboveTake special care to implement the required changes on a human scale and to clearly communicate the benefits for each person involved so as to stimulate willingness to change.

Watch video: Erwin Roels, Sales Director, explains how Cheops implements Commercial Excellence (page 2, video in Dutch)


The age of the customer demands a different approach

The combination of technological changes in the internet, mobility and social media has changed the way customers buy. Knowing your customers better than they know themselves and engaging with them in a buyer-aligned way is the only sustainable competitive advantage moving forward.

Research by Forrester shows that 74% of executive buyers, once they commit to making a change, will go with the company that’s able to help create the buying vision. Industries already heavily impacted by this change have come to the conclusion that sales has changed from a push to a pull strategy. Sales now has to facilitate the buying process based on the strengths of its offering and the impact it will deliver for the customer. So a lot of companies are re-evaluating their current sales and marketing approach. And it’s no surprise that they tend to have some common questions:

  • Is my current sales process adapted to the age of the customer?
  • All vendors tell me their sales method is aligned to the buyer journey. How do I know if this is true? How do I choose the right one?

Critically important questions

Answer the questions correctly and you’ll be able to deliver the results shown in a recent study by the Sales Management Association. They found a 28% higher growth rate for companies using a buyer journey-based sales methodology, along with lower sales costs and improved margins.

But get the answers wrong and you’ll have the opposite:

  • Worse relationships with prospects and customers. You’ll even alienate them.
  • Less power. No influence over the customer buying proces
  • Lower hit rate, higher sales costs, fewer leads, less revenue, decreased margins

Below you’ll find the three most critical evaluation criteria when selecting a sales process/methodology.

1. Pseudo buyer alignment versus real buyer alignment

You can typically recognise companies offering a Pseudo Buyer-Aligned Process by the following:

      • They translate the buyer process into a sales process. So first they analyse a customer buying process and then superimpose a second process that has the corresponding sales process steps to take for every step of the buying process. They claim that because the steps of the sales process are aligned with the steps of the buying process, they have a buyer-aligned sales process.
      • It is a linear process that is identical for all opportunities.

This is not only wrong, but so theoretical and complex that the sales force find it impossible to implement with a high adoption rate. Consider a simple analogy: in the spring we plant seeds to align our farming activities with the season. But planting seeds does not mean that therefore it’s spring. You have to monitor the seasons and align the farming activities accordingly. You don’t monitor the farming activities and then deduce that the season is aligned.

When salespeople follow a Pseudo Buyer-Aligned Sales Process they make the same fatal assumption. They assume that since they executed this step of the buyer-aligned sales process, the customer will now move to the next stage of the buying process. Can you see how this is completely wrong? Their reference points are the steps of the buyer-aligned sales process, instead of those of the customer buying process.

The second problem with this approach is that the Pseudo Buyer-Aligned Sales Process is a sequential set of steps:

      • You take a step
      • Finish it
      • Check box
      • Done
      • Next step

In contrast, the buying process is neither linear nor sequential. It is a dynamic and iterative process, which means that the customer goes back and forth within each stage of the buying process. So even if your sales process includes customer milestone checkpoints when passing from one stage to the next, it still doesn’t work in reality. Because the customer may say one thing one day and then something else another day. How many times have you had a meeting where the customer was enthusiastic about something you said but then changed their mind at the next meeting. Why? It’s very simple. Customers do not live in isolated worlds. After your meeting they talk to peers, they go on the internet, they talk to colleagues. This influences or even completely changes their opinion.

Recent research by SiriusDecisions shows that 71% of customer decision criteria and their buyer journey are influenced by online information. Sales reps need to be able to see how their customer has evolved since the last meeting. Contrast this with a salesperson who follows the pseudo buyer-aligned linear sales process: “I did step A of the process, so now I need to do step B?” But who says so? Who says that because your step is executed that the customer also evolved? And if so, who says the customer didn’t change their mind or wasn’t influenced by others since your last contact? Your sales force needs to be focused on the customer buying process and adapt their behaviour accordingly.

Therefore, implementing the sales steps in your CRM won’t help, even if they are aligned with a generic buying process. Your salespeople will focus on those sales steps and lose track of the buying process. What you need to do is to implement the buying process stages and tools to continuously monitor buying readiness.

Check: ask your vendor to show and explain their sales process and a screenshot of a CRM implementation.
If you see sales stages and/or a linear process, you know you have a Pseudo Buyer-Aligned Process. 

2. Company buyer journey versus individual buying readiness

As we learned in the previous point, it is critical to detect the buying stages and align activities accordingly. Not the other way around. That being said, there is another dimension to this that makes this even more critical. Each member of the decision making unit (DMU) is going through the buyer journey at their own pace, dynamically and iteratively. Each person is influenced in many ways and could potentially be involved in another stage of the buying process.

Misalignment of the sales activity with individual buying readiness will result in a longer sales cycle and a lower win probability. So there’s no need to explain why you need to install a process that enables you to monitor individual buying readiness and/or alignment of the DMU. Implementing a company buyer journey doesn’t help because it doesn’t exist. Every company has a unique buyer journey, with stages that include:

      • Definition of requirements
      • Evaluation of vendors
      • Short list of vendors
      • Negotiation with short list

As you can see, these stages are very high level and company-based. They don’t allow you to monitor individual buying readiness, which means your sales force won’t be able to individually align and influence DMU members. We have seen many initiatives from top management stall because people lower down in the organisation were not aligned in their buying readiness. Identifying these individual misalignments and having the right sales and marketing activity to resolve these friction points is key to winning deals.

Check: does your sales methodology spontaneously talk about the importance of individual alignment? Ask to see the sales process.
If it has general buying stages you won’t be able to focus your sales on aligning DMU members.

3. Is your sales process multicultural?

There is a big difference between European companies and US-based companies. Most sales methodologies developed in the US fail in implementation in European and global companies. The US has a ‘hero culture’, where the CEO, VP Sales and people delivering results are considered heroes. This has a totally different impact on the way sales reacts to or views top-down implementations and rule-based ways of working. In Europe, the fact that top management says something can actually have the opposite effect on salespeople.

Here’s a simple test to define the culture: count how many salespeople are using individual spreadsheets – a feature of the hero culture. The methodologies of US-based companies are developed using this hero paradigm. So in all the intricacies of the method you buy, you will find all kinds of resistance to adopting it from your sales force.

Check: is your methodology based on multicultural diversity?
If not, be prepared for resistance.

These three requirements are crucial if you want to implement a process that will truly align your sales with the new buyer and be adopted and used by the team.


As long as too many salespeople continue to make the following three mistakes, your sales costs will be too high. A higher conversion rate and a higher margin on your deals can be achieved by avoiding the following errors:

1. Incomplete needs analysis

Unfortunately, this is a classic mistake: questions are limited to what is required for drawing up an offer. This results in conversations that do not offer any added value, neither for the customer nor for the potential supplier. The customer gets an offer based on a rather superficial diagnosis, but not necessarily a good solution to his/her problem.

A number of additional questions help to better map the context:

  • Who else is involved?
  • By when should you be able to use the solution? (this is a customer-oriented version of the question “when will you decide?”)
  • What do you wish to achieve?
  • What is the ideal solution for you?
  • To what extent do your colleagues share this view?
  • How will you make sure that the best decision is made?

2. Making too many price offers too soon

The seller continues to push the customer. The seller had not made sufficient inquiries into the context and then explained what the ideal solution would be from his/her own perspective; now the time has come to try to prove these claims through an offer. Whether or not the customer has already made up his/her mind does not seem to matter.

When the offer has been sent, there are three possibilities. Everything turns out all right and the deal is settled shortly afterwards. A less positive outcome is also possible: you lose control of the customer because he/she no longer has any reason to keep in touch once everything has been written down. Now your competitors can further influence your prospect.

Or you end up in a situation where you keep on making new versions of offers. This is not good for the sales costs and causes the customer to doubt. The seller thinks the customer has changed his/her mind once again. The customer, in turn, thinks the seller falls short because he/she always has to propose changes.

These deals are easily identifiable by the following two situations:

  • The decision date is delayed once or several times
  • Several offers are made for the same opportunity. This can also be measured quite easily

3. Not providing the customer with what he/she really needs

Imagine yourself going to the doctor, who immediately gives you a prescription because you’re the tenth patient that day who has come to see him with a runny nose. This makes a diagnosis superfluous, or does it? You wouldn’t accept this from a doctor, but many salespeople still behave like all-knowing oracles. They concentrate on what they want to sell to the customer and only hear what they want to hear.

This creates an area of tension between the seller and the customer which usually results in the seller continuing to talk, trying to convince the customer and discussing technical details. But does the customer feel understood? In this context, it is crucial to imagine yourself in the customer’s situation. In other words, are you prepared to put yourself in the customer’s place?

This can be avoided by really listening to the customer, interacting with them, trying to fully understand their context, taking the appropriate sales actions in the purchase phase, talking to the right people from the customer, giving advice and ensuring follow-up of customers who are not yet ready to buy by the marketing or inside sales department.


The Empowered Buyer has unleashed a range of new productivity challenges. Sales cycles have become longer and more complex than ever before. This becomes painfully clear in the declining number of sales reps still making quota: only an alarming 57,1% according to CSO Insights. One of the major productivity challenges we see, is complexity in the sales conversation.

Now let’s have a closer look at conversation complexity. Imagine you are a multi-product B2B company and John, one of your sales guys:

  • is selling into FMCG and pharmaceuticals
  • needs insights into each vertical; think of typical challenges, objections and competitive arena’s
  • in each of the verticals, he will be talking to 3 or more profiles, all having different reasons to buy
  • John has to guide each profile through different buying phases, each phase requiring typical answers and types of information
  • and last but not least: he needs to fit all the above with the right products from his portfolio

_________________________

Bottom line: John has a couple of thousands of conversations to manage!

Many companies really do expect their sales teams to familiarise with such inhuman amounts of information. And besides knowledge, don’t forget that reps need the capability to inject just the right content into the conversation at the right time, to the right person.

Now raise digital hands: can we agree that this is a mission impossible? Nobody can learn to handle this type of complexity. Sales reps are no robots switching seamlessly from one situation to the next every hour of the day. It is time we look for alternatives to support sales.

Overcoming the sales learning curve

So what can we do to get John and his colleagues back on track, and stop the year over year quota erosion? Here are 5 problem area’s:

1. 70 % of marketing content remains unused by sales
At the same time, sales reps spend 30 hours per month looking for or creating relevant content, while spending only 22% of their time actively selling. This demands first of all for a system to measure which materials are (not) being used by sales, and when. From there, marketing collateral needs to be aligned with sales conversations

2. Even Messi never stops training. So why would sales?
Traditional training is typically done in bursts of a couple of days a year. Whereas research by the Institute of America shows that 58% of training contents are forgotten within 30 minutes. Another 33% is lost after 48 hours. And by the time that theory has been put into practice, typically 3 weeks later, learning retention has been reduced to 15%. So why not shift to continuous learning by adding content training to their mobile in small nuggets, focused on individual needs? We call this ‘snackable’ learning

3. Over 80% of buyers say vendors don’t understand their issues
Closely related to the previous point, sales training and support collateral are mostly still focused on company solutions and product benefits. Buyers today are hyper connected and empowered via online and social collaboration. They don’t need your sales to explain products and services. But what they do want, is a trusted partner and advisor to help solve critical business issues

4. Most management practices have their own set of ground rules
Most management practices – like engineering or accounting – have their own set of ground rules. Imagine the drama if we took balance sheets away from financial reporting! Yet, sales management doesn’t have any ground rules or common management practice to fall back on. Instead, we are reinventing the wheel. And in many cases, we don’t even have a sales management practice behind

5. The competitive, individual (non collaborative) culture we see in most sales teams
Sales meeting agendas are still driven by business updates and reviews. Let sales become a team sport and turn sales meetings into experience sharing events. Ask marketing to join in and keep sales support materials aligned and up-to-date. You will cultivate an experience sharing culture

It would take us too far in this blog post to draw out answers for all the above. But we have done so in a webinar together with Vlerick Business School. It will take you through the 5 components to support an effective team – in less than an hour! Boost the conversation, and the sales results:

 

 


In HR, it is your role to make sure your sales reps show the capabilities to meet customers’ expectations. But buyer needs are changing all the time, and today’s digitised customers are better informed than ever before. What Sales people traditionally learn in trainings, as well as the capabilities that got them on board years ago, might not be up to standard.

How can you be sure that Sales have what it takes and stay up-to-speed?  

Here is a checklist of the top 10 crucial attitudes and capabilities your Sales need to meet the empowered customer’s expectations

 

 

 


On a recent lead generation training course, I was very surprised to find a large majority of salespeople among the participants. It turned out that these sales reps were attending because their marketing wasn’t delivering leads that made sense from a sales perspective. Some of them had KPIs for cold calling, and results were reportedly getting worse and worse.

This situation again illustrates that the majority of businesses in Europe haven’t yet realised we’ve arrived in the ‘age of the customer’. Not that the customer has changed, but thanks to the internet, social media and new mobile possibilities, buyers have changed the way they interact with us. Organisations that want to secure or grow their business shouldn’t wait any longer to start looking at ways of meeting the empowered customer’s needs.

A well-oiled sales and marketing machine is essential

Buyers today can find loads of information about your products, and your competitors’, in just a few clicks. If you want to do business with leads who are looking for a solution like yours, it’s the marketing department’s job to provide the right information in the right form, at the right time in your lead’s buying cycle.

Cost efficiency and volume are key: marketing generates leads in a one-to-many digital approach. Only leads that meet specific marketing criteria (MQL) are being handed over to sales, who then take over from there. Sales qualifies both the contact and the buyer readiness (SQL), and leads rejected by sales are recycled by marketing into campaigns that can be made very specific thanks to the new insights gained by sales.

One marketing activity that is often forgotten is demand generation: besides capturing ready-to-buy leads, marketing can also create demand through inbound marketing. Leads from these campaigns can be nurtured to hopefully become sales-ready one day. Without demand generation, sales will keep on complaining about the quantity and quality of leads provided by marketing.

So has your machine been oiled to meet new customer demands?

How to get the machine running

If your machine’s a bit sluggish, it’s probably time to stop the ongoing battle between sales and marketing. Take a new look at activities and responsibilities, and create a value chain that helps your customers buy from you.

Here are a few tips to get sales and marketing collaboration on track.

  • Share common goals
    Across departments, increase awareness that we’re all trying hard to achieve the same company targets. Collaboration is key!
  • Share a common vocabulary
    In the age of the customer, replace your sales process with a buying process, and make sure both sales and marketing are speaking the same language. Introduce a clear demand-generation process with milestones based on commonly agreed definitions to make it work
  • Co-development and best practice
    Work together as one team. Both sales and marketing can add lots of value, insights and messaging to improve traction, conversion and ROI on marketing activities. Sales meetings are an ideal platform to keep marketing up-to-date with what’s happening in the market; marketing can take the stage to inform sales about ongoing results and planned activities in line with the sales organisation’s needs, again reinforcing the importance of common goals
  • Marketing: messaging should allows the building of customised content
    Research has shown that that up to 90% of content created by marketing goes unused by sales. Implement a content strategy that enables the building, sharing, measurement and improvement of messaging quality. Messaging should allow the building of content that is customised for different roles, their individual buyer readiness, and context
  • Marketing: ‘why change’ content
    The majority of content aims to convince us why we should choose company X or product Y. But research shows that 60% of opportunities are neither won nor lost; they simply disappear without a sale. The content that explains why customers should change is therefore crucial for creating demand and increasing conversion

Want to find out more and see the whole picture? Watch the webinar ‘How to Align Sales and Marketing’ with guest speaker Pascal Persyn, CEO at Perpetos, and moderator Deva Rangarajan, Associate Professor at Vlerick.


Implementing a (new) CRM system is strategically important for driving sales productivity. Perpetos CEO Pascal Persyn recently shared his experiences about this at the Microsoft Sales Productivity Master Class. He has three tips for using CRM to drive sales productivity: do it in a sales and people centric way, choose correct data over more data, and make it easy to use.

Tip 1: Implement your CRM in a sales and people centric way

First and foremost, think about who is going to use your CRM, when, and why. Design it for the people who use it every day. Keep your various teams’ differing goals in mind. And focus on core objectives to avoid complexity during implementation. We see too many cases where the taskforce gets carried away by the CRM’s endless possibilities, but not enough time is spent reflecting on its usability on a day-to-day basis. This means the system gets way too complex and people become less motivated to enter data usefully.

With everyone using CRM to organise their activities and gain more insights into customers and opportunities, you will:

  • have better internal collaboration
  • reduce overheads
  • cut administration
  • have more accurate forecasts with documentation
  • ultimately win more deals

Tip 2: Correct data is more important than more data

Almost all the CRM systems we see have too many required fields. Screens aren’t adapted to the use case and endless workflows tend to restrict users. So people fill in random information instead of using the data entry as a means to reflect on their real activities.

And last but not least, CRM should be a reflection of what is actually going on in the real world; not just what management wants to hear, nor an interpretation of what sales thinks. Give your sales people the opportunity to enter exactly the information they need, right when they need it. Sales will then be motivated to update the system, because it will help them be more successful.

Tip 3: Make your CRM easy to use

Start by mapping the different use case scenarios – what information is needed for which sales situation. You will overcome the biggest hurdles in any CRM implementation if you design screens, workflows and dashboards for these use cases. Important examples of these use cases are: entering a new prospective customer, preparing for a meeting, updating and strategising after a meeting, or preparing for a 1-to-1 with a sales manager.

Data capture for non-sales teams should be designed in terms of buyer readiness. For example: don’t ask sales to select products and configurations at the start of a buying cycle, because this hasn’t been discussed with the customer yet; the customer can still change their mind, and it forces sales to think in terms of product sales rather than facilitating the buying decision. CRM can also be instrumental for embedding knowledge, sharing experiences, coaching sales, and adopting a sales methodology.

Regret missing the Microsoft Sales Productivity Master Class? Check out the video


Are you thinking about implementing a new sales process, but you cannot separate the wheat from the chaff? There are theories that may sound nice but do not work in practice and thinking in terms of complex, modern or simple does not always guarantee quality. A sales process is difficult to impose, it needs proper implementation.

Questions you must ask yourself for every sales model

The following weeks I will guide you through several known processes and I will discuss a few criteria you should take into account. For a start: the sales model that has almost become a classic.

This is not about the customer

It is clear that this is a linear process. Your salespeople will immediately see that this sales process representation is old-fashioned and simplistic and does not reflect reality. Your sales team offers resistance and rightly so, because this process does not enable them to properly assess, follow-up or report the customer’s situation. A good salesperson will do what they have to do and will enter a status based on individual interpretation. Mostly, CRM is somewhat outdated because the salesperson does not benefit from it.

It is a rigid model with little room for variation. Moreover, it forces the salesperson to report from his/her own activities. As a result, the management cannot properly evaluate the customer’s situation and it is impossible to provide coaching to guide the salesperson accordingly.

Meaningless

The process starts from your own activities and therefore does not depend on the market or the product complexity, which seems really interesting. However, it is so meaningless that it hardly improves the functioning of your company in the end. It is true that this linear step-by-step plan is simple and easy to remember, but due to this oversimplification the process is not applicable in reality.

Too little information is available, so that additional fields in CRM will probably be created so as to compensate this inadequacy. If you work with this model, you have to work with visit reports. Such reports are very time-consuming and do not allow structured reporting.

Not recommended

We can only advise you against working with this model. It increases the administrative burden, is impossible to maintain in reality and will jeopardise good collaboration between your different departments. Your salespeople will be frustrated and will not meet their quota.


Many companies currently focus on big data. Unfortunately, small data are all too often forgotten, as if this problem has been solved now. In B2B, however, we are confronted every day with incomplete databases, outdated information and customer data stored in individual salespeople’s smartphones or in all kinds of Excel lists. New contacts’ business cards, LinkedIn updates, website visits and email traffic are not converted into a unique database.

CRM should be this unique database compiled by manual and automated data collection. Unfortunately, the potential is usually not fully realised in reality. The problem is often intrinsic to the implementation:

  • The screens and workflows are not adapted to the different roles and use situations
  • Low adoption rate among users due to a lack of added value for each individual user or user role
  • When the CRM system is selected, insufficient consideration is given to the rapidly changing needs and environment

We know what this results in. The forecast requires quite a lot of manual work in every analysis. The sellers perform a single major update just before each deadline and do not keep track of their work on a daily basis. Time and again, Marketing has to request that the sellers manually check the lists before an action can be started correctly. Sales leads are insufficiently qualified and are badly monitored or not at all.

Less data means more data

By using CRM correctly, a whole new world can be opened up for improved collaboration between departments and higher impact on the market. The following elements have most impact on the data quality:

  • Make the screens less complex and make the fields consistent with the logic behind them. Also take into account the different situations in which the screen will be used
  • Remove fields that are hardly ever used
  • Remove workflows which act like a straitjacket because they are not adapted to real situations
  • Provide sellers and middle management with individual dashboards which reflect daily and weekly use
  • Always use CRM live screens in case of interactions with sellers, e.g. during opportunity, pipeline or activity meetings

This is sufficient in itself to provide more up-to-date information and reduce frustration because sellers do not need to complete countless separate PowerPoint or Excel lists anymore.

If you immediately take this on board, you will achieve significant results within one month.

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