Understand the motivation of sales people 

A good sales leader not only succeeds in organizing the sales team well to achieve the goals but he or she also supports the team with the right tools to be successful. And still, the best sales leaders you recognize by the sellers themselves. If you look closely, you can recognise them by the spark in their eyes, the discipline at work and the motivation to reach target. They are not one-time performers but consistently perform well, even over a longer period.  

Is there a secret manual? And if so, can this be taught? 

There are several basic principles. Thus, a good motivator puts the other person first and realizes that each person is different, with individual wishes, expectations, and motivations.  

And there are many aspects to consider such as the fact that people can change. What used to motivate, it doesn’t have to be today. Also the intensity of motivation can change.  

Research shows that most people have one or two decisive motivators or drives, such as wage components, training, friendships at work. If you can define these motivators, you will have the basics to build your dream team of successful sales representatives.  

Furthermore, it is important to realize that managers can never keep all employees 100% motivated 100% of the time. That’s okay. If you can avoid demotivation and increase motivation – any win is welcome – the final results will increase with a multiplier effect.  

Most sales representatives will be open and transparent about their demotivators. Often these lie in a surfeit of administrative tasks and solving customer problems that contribute little to (more) sales.   

Motivators are often much more varied and harder to discuss. A good relationship of trust with the manager can make the difference.  

It turns out that sales representatives are surprisingly often driven by growth. Growth in the job, their career, the number and type of clients they can handle, etc. With this motivator, it is advisable to demonstrate how commitment leads to more possibilities. Providing a career path and delegating responsibilities will give this seller extra incentive. 

As a result, some sales representatives are stimulated by challenge. They want to win. These individuals are at their best when they are given visible appreciation for their achievements, when they can build on their strengths and their imperfections are glossed over.   

Some sales representatives prefer to work in a team, others need their independence. It is important to create situations where both profiles come into their own, by assigning specific projects: for example a project where you have to collaborate with a different department or if your manager wants to delegate a certain task to you.  

And we have to be honest, quite a few sellers think the pennies are very important. Therefore, reward plans need to be well aligned  with sales results, with attention to short- and long-term results and adapted to the sales strategy. 

Excited for some tips to share a sales strategy with your team by using a virtual sales kick-off? And to inspire and motivate them? Then read our blog ‘a virtual sales kick-off?

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[blog] Sales Kick-Off (SKO) going virtual?

Excited for some tips to share a sales strategy with your team by using a virtual sales kick-off? And to inspire and motivate them? Then read our blog ‘a virtual sales kick-off’.


Virtual SKO

Sales Kick-Off 2021 will soon be upon us, and this time , as we’re all working from home more, it’s highly likely to go virtual.

That’s why it’s imperative for you to know what engages and motivates people from a distance. How can you shift your salespeople’s mindset to align them with the strategy, objectives, process, content, and tools they need to succeed in 2021?

You can find out more about taking the lead in the aftermath of Covid-19 by watching our webinar.

Unique challenges

The annual SKO is your starting point for aligning your entire sales organization around your company mission, vision, strategy, and objectives. Just like previous years, your sales team will be wondering how they fit into your plans, and what you as sales leader are doing to support their effort and ensure they succeed. But things are different this year, because of restrictions on people meeting in person, in groups… at home, in the office, or anywhere you might normally go for a team event.  

Regular team-bonding activities and sessions are out of the question, because you’re not allowed to meet in larger groups. So what other activities can you arrange to build team spirit, and encourage and enthuse your sales reps?

5 steps to virtual SKO success

Step 1: Set clear objectives for your virtual SKO.

  • What’s the number one issue impacting sales efficiency that you need to address for the coming year?
  • What’s the main change or transformation you can implement to drive your sales organization forward?

Try to see the bigger picture when answering these questions. Working out how issues relates to your sales process will help you determine if need better planning, other talent…

Step 2: Define your program content.

Once you’ve set your objectives, you can use careful planning to make the most of your time and create content that aligns with your goals.

  • Ask yourself what questions your team are likely to have, and prepare your answers;
  • Can you arrange any hand-on exercises or breakout sessions?
  • How can you make these activities work in practice?

It’s worth running through your ideas in advance to iron out any issues that might arise and structure the SKO properly. Don’t forget: you also need to give your salespeople time to network or simply recharge sometimes.

Discuss all these questions and issues with your team, so they can help you find answers and make any necessary arrangements. Once you’ve formulated your SKO, you can reverse engineer the meeting.

Step 3: Find out what you can in advance.

  • Invite your salespeople to share customer success stories;
  • Record their best elevator pitches;
  • Provide team updates;
  • Etc.

Step 4: Encourage participants to get involved

  • Stimulate chat before, during, and after your keynote to gather questions and concerns from the floor;
  • Break out into virtual sessions so that people can discuss plans together.

Step 5: Outline what happens after the SKO

  • Work out the best way to ensure your plans for result-driven adoption and reinforcement are put into practice;
  • Think about execution and set up virtual sales initiatives to pave the way to success;
  • To improve your commercial performance by prioritizing your activities, read our checklist.

In summary

When asking yourself how a virtual SKO can drive results, it’s important to consider the following:

  • A virtual SKO is still a live event, so you still need to engage all attendees and make sure they get involved;  
  • The medium used to deliver the messages doesn’t change the outcomes – and the outcomes depend on shifting the mindset, explaining each salesperson’s the contribution, and following up implementation;  
  • The plan for what happens after the SKO is just as important as the event itself.  

Going virtual

To help you shift your usual SKO into a virtual one, you can consider shifting your SKO budgets for travel, accommodation, and networking into post-event sales effectiveness programs.

  • Investing in learning and coaching;
  • Develop the new insights required to carry out the new plan;
  • Focus on the skills that need to be reinforced;
  • Work out how to measure success.

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Why sales coaching?

Research by CSO Insights has shown that sales coaching enables sellers to substantially improve their sales skills and so win more deals. The second benefit is that it allows sales managers to shift their focus from simply helping people to do their work to actually developing their skills. Which is surely an advantage, isn’t it?

But how?

Sales managers need to use coaching techniques, tips and tools. Even though some may have a talent for coaching, many don’t know how best to go about it. Sales management coaching programs help them gain the skills and self-confidence they need to integrate coaching as part of their daily routine. Fortunately, there’s technology available to help them. Sales coaching software doesn’t just make it possible to personalise the coaching, but also to measure it by looking at the sellers’ individual actions, monitoring their progress and providing a visual representation to make things clearer, rather than simply using their own perception, gut instinct and experience.

Sales coaching tools

Coaching isn’t the same thing as providing solutions or giving everyone the same advice. A good sales coaching tool can chart progress and zoom in on the lowest level of knowledge, and combine this with the extent to which this knowledge is actually applied.

Sales coaching tools

It differs from eLearning or other content offered by Learning Management Systems (LMS) in this sense, because a sales coaching tool combines software for teaching sellers and ensuring they retain this information, stimulating behavioural change, making everything measurable, and providing suggestions for the management to reach the right conclusions and implement the right actions. Altogether, it forms an integrated solution that provides content exactly when it’s needed.

Enabling just-in-time coaching

This flexible (agile) method for developing sellers’ skills is called ‘Coaching Enablement’. It allows you to organise, manage and individualise coaching while ensuring sellers retain the information they’re given. It also provides dashboards for sales managers, higher management and HR. This means HR can now measure, support and adapt each employee’s development and the impact they have. Peer-to-peer learning is also provided.

A good example of this is ‘video pitching’, where the seller records an answer to a client situation using their smartphone, which can then be used as coaching input for the sales manager, and good examples can be shared with other team members. This enhances the performance of the whole team, contributes to continuous development and improves team spirit.

Enabling just-in-time coaching

The main advantages of just-in-time coaching are:

  1. Identifying possibilities for personal development
  2. Building self-confidence
  3. Strengthening desired behaviour, knowledge and skills
  4. Installing a culture that stimulates continuous improvement for each individual and the team
  5. Measuring the impact on sales results

Read more about agile learning, knowledge retention and just-in-time coaching

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Even before most customers go to a supplier, they have gathered information and seek an answer to specific questions. A traditional salesman who displays his excellent product knowledge in his sales pitch and who has mastered the conventional negotiating techniques does not meet his quotas anymore. An exceptional salesman, on the other hand, knows in which buying phase the customer contact has arrived, understands the situation and is able to give advice. It takes three things to turn any salesman into an exceptional salesman: content, technology and a continuous learning process.

Content

To illustrate his words and continuously learn about the product range and its possibilities, the salesperson needs the right content, sufficiently flexible to be combined and supplemented at his own discretion. The content is created in a dynamic process so that other salespeople always have the most recent knowledge and documents at their disposal as well. Content creation becomes one of your principal sales support processes so that your salespeople constantly improve their knowledge and adapt to any customer situation.

Technology

Your seller needs software not just to be able to show the content in the right manner, but also to be able to consult the most recent information on the customer in advance. CRM should be more than an automated filing cabinet or tedious administrative work. It should support the seller in doing the right thing at the right moment with the right contact. Sellers should use the tools willingly and constantly so as to store and share knowledge as well as to review their own actions. This brings us to the third aspect of our topic.

Continuous learning

The learning process of each seller should also become part of the corporate culture. Your sales team needs permanent training and coaching. Everyone considers it normal that the best athletes have to train and are coached on a daily basis. This is also necessary for sellers whose environment changes continuously. Their own products develop, the market changes, the customers evolve and the competitors are not sitting back and doing nothing. A seller who acts as a talking catalogue is not much use in this context. To be a good adviser, they need to be able to count on your support. Training and particularly coaching are more important than ever. Empathy and commitment to the customer are capacities which require lifelong learning.

These three elements ensure better and deeper relations with customers and will make sales talks more relevant than ever for the customer.

 


Today we start with a motivational quote: “The customer is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.” This quote is attributed to Gandhi, but the point is that customer focus is of all times.

However, a clear break can be noticed, which took place some five years ago. Josh Bernoff from market research company Forrester calls this the beginning of “the age of the customer”, which heralds the end of the previous age of information. Due to rapid technological evolutions including social media and mobile computing, customers seek information in different ways and their purchase behaviour is gradually changing as a result. Consequently, the role of sales and marketing is also changing profoundly.

All customer experiences

A study by SiriusDecisions from earlier this year indicated that 71% of purchase decisions are based on the sum of the experiences customers have with their supplier. All experiences, both digital and personal as well as with staff from any department, play a role in this. It proves Bernoff’s earlier proposition that “the only sustainable competitive advantage is the knowledge of and engagement with the customer”.

Meeting customers’ expectations in every interaction is therefore the real challenge in the age of the customer and the best way to stay one step ahead of the competition. The seller’s role in this is no longer to provide information and thus try to convince customers. The seller now has to ensure interactions which enrich the customer’s vision, help to demonstrate the positive impact of a purchase decision and facilitate the entire purchasing process in an optimum manner.


Are sales still the exclusive domain of the sales department? If so, you may have a problem, as customer interaction has changed dramatically. Customer contacts increasingly take place via other channels, such as the Internet, social media or relations. The preparation of purchases is also strongly influenced online.

Everybody has a commercial role

Your salespersons are not the only ones who bear responsibility for your company’s lasting commercial success. Within their role, each employee needs to be aware of the ultimate aim of their activities, namely the customer. This requires a serious mentality change with plenty of companies, and perhaps also with you.

More than ever, customers expect to play a central role in your processes. This demands a targeted approach: any interaction between you and the customer matters and has to meet the customer’s expectations. You need to be able to quickly and adequately answer any question from them. In most industries this is the fastest way to strengthen your competitive position.

Your processes from the perspective of your customer’s purchase cycle

Are you ready to take your organisation to a higher level and to increase your growth potential? Then you need to organise your processes from the perspective of your customer’s purchase cycle. You have to meet their expectations with every contact. This also impacts the competencies of your employees and the manner in which technology supports your customer processes.

Create a Buyer’s Journey roadmap in five steps

For the sake of brevity we will not discuss this in depth, but in general terms you build your roadmap in five steps:

  1. describe the purchase cycle for each type of customer
  2. inventory the contact moments (including those with third parties)
  3. describe all those moments, every touch point
  4. identify the most important decision criteria and decision points
  5. convert the schedule into ready-to-use guidelines


Like many marketeers, we worked extremely hard on our campaigns: webinars, events, trade fairs, workshops, and so forth. This resulted in sufficient new names which we neatly passed on to our sales colleagues. As they are quite result-oriented, they asked for more and more leads.

We did not want to employ another staff member in a marketing position to provide even more push campaigns, so we decided to concentrate in particular on the quality of the leads going in the sales funnel. Lead scoring had to increase the turnover per lead by having the sales department focus especially on promising leads. Within this scope, we were one of the first in Belgium to start working with marketing automation software.

As part of the preparation, we conducted an analysis of the entire process with our sales colleagues to ensure that everybody agreed on the method and the definitions. A rather bothersome and complex exercise, but indispensable to get rid of weaknesses in your funnel. We noticed that some leads were neglected. What is the use of more and more leads if they are not monitored properly?

In the meantime, all leads have been registered and qualified in the marketing automation software. Each contact is monitored and gets a score with every new action, even in case of existing contacts. After all, we often focus too strongly on new names and lose track of upselling and cross-selling opportunities.

Still overly dependent on push marketing

After lead scoring the time was right for a next step. An analysis of our lead funnel showed us 1) that push marketing accounted for the majority of our leads; and 2) that our inbound leads completed the sales process twice as fast. We therefore decided to focus more strongly on inbound activities so as to increase the influx as well as the quality of the leads.

Potential buyers consult their network and other references to make or prepare purchasing decisions. So you also need to lead them to the purchase online. Customers increasingly inform themselves without contacting a supplier. If you only count on push marketing, you often arrive too late in the decision-making process.

Within the scope of our inbound approach, we mainly invest in four kinds of actions: several media channels, SEO, content creation and general branding. We thus want to increase the share of inbound leads to 50% in the long term.

This blogpost is a contribution by Tom Dubois, Worldwide Marketing Manager at VASCO Data Security

 


No Lead Left BehindAs is the case in many companies, the cooperation between our marketing and sales departments used to be less than optimal where leads were concerned. Thanks to the internal project “No Lead Left Behind”, we have been able to find a solution for a rather unproductive situation.

Using marketing automation software, we are currently preparing the next steps such as lead scoring and automated nurturing. We should be able to the see the results in about one year.

Number of sales accepted leads doubled

We have developed a process where not a single lead is lost and where efforts are made to follow up on all leads. The cooperation between the sales and marketing departments has considerably improved as well. Generally speaking, the number of sales accepted leads has doubled, with a record 136% increase in the beginning of the year. We have achieved this thanks to the following four steps of our action plan.

1. We have created an unambiguous process to manage the pipeline from lead to deal, with clear agreements on all intermediate stages, definitions and nomenclature. The process also includes the possibility to refuse or requalify leads on the basis of fixed parameters.

2. We have defined all stages of the process in a very detailed manner in our software, so that they are monitored quickly and correctly.

3. Targets relating to data quality, timing and conversion have been calculated for each stage. These targets are documented in an internal Service Level Agreement, which has been accepted by all sales and marketing people.

4. Through coaching and training we have made sure that everyone is motivated and is working towards the same goal.

This blog post is a contribution by Inge Landerwyn, marketing manager at Basware


Visual and word artists are indispensable for marketing. However, a modern marketing communication department has to be able to do more than sending attractive newsletters, creating eye-catching designs or organising memorable events. An equally important part of the job is driven by data analysis. Clients and prospects leave a digital trace that, when interpreted correctly, may stimulate sales.

Know your customer

Marketing communication is a powerless tool if it doesn’t include digital analysis. It also makes the job a lot more pleasant than it may seem. Like the owner of a local shop knows the personal preferences of many of his customers, each marketeer can acquire similar insights, mainly by using marketing automation tools.

However, we do not expect the marketeer to lock himself up in his digital laboratory and to gather all his information from visitors’ statistics, click behaviour and Excel pivot tables. He must also be active in the field, establish contacts with prospects and go to all major trade fairs. The ideal marketeer is a combination of both. We are calling him the “extraverted nerd”.

One-to-one is standard

We have prepared our marketing staff for their future through intensive internal communication: one-to-one is our standard, creativity and analysis go hand in hand. In addition, we obtain a relatively high turnover from each deal, which proves that one-to-one marketing is certainly not a useless investment. It has taken us more than one year to set up marketing divisions capable of linking creative concepts and dry data analysis all over Europe. In the past, we were mainly lacking knowledge of digital marketing, but we have in the mean time been able to make up for that lack.

Our teams consist of digital marketeers responsible for content and its highly varied distribution (the “Digital” team members), analysts who gain insights from our marketing software (the “Insight” people) and campaign experts whose task it is to stimulate demand (the “Demand” people). Together they are managing a detailed marketing funnel, the results of which are increasingly easy to predict and which accounts for an ever growing part of our turnover.

This blog post is a contribution by Philippe Gosseye, marketing director Western Europe at EMC.


Since last month, the Dutch Nyenrode Business Universiteit organises a modular master class of seven days spread over two months. The ‘Customer Experience Strategy & Execution’ master class focuses on the processes and technologies each company needs to master in order to change along with the continually evolving customers in this digital age. As I take care of part of the master class, I gladly give you a teaser of what is to come.

Until recently, things were very simple: your marketing department was responsible for product support and your salespeople took care of the sales. In the meantime, the interaction between both departments has intensified in order to increase your brand awareness and the demand for your services, for example by generating more leads, in particular through inbound marketing. How do you approach this?

Attach sufficient importance to the buyer’s journey and demand creation

Brand awareness is no longer sufficient as the buyer has more control over his purchasing process than ever before. So you can abandon your outdated sales strategies. Focus on customer-based segmentation so that you know which segments offer the most sales opportunities, provide supporting content in all stages of the buyer’s journey and develop lead scoring. This way you can quickly adapt your follow-up to the willingness to buy.

Align your sales and marketing processes and go digital

Your marketing and sales processes need to be perfectly aligned. To implement and support this, you have to go more digital. Complement CRM with marketing automation, online content marketing and sales enablement. Technology does not suffice in itself; give sufficient time and attention to the user friendliness and quality of the data in your CRM system so that your employees are more productive and especially like using the tools because of personal advantages.

Develop a tailored sales performance strategy

Selling involves an optimal cooperation between the marketing and sales divisions. It is important that each department is capable of approaching the right person at the right moment in his purchasing process (buyer’s journey) and performs the right activities with the right persons at the right time. Keep the common goal in mind: maximising revenue with the largest possible margin and at the lowest possible sales costs.

Join the digitisation trend

The digitisation trend continues. The focus of the marketing department shifts from creative processes to analytical processes. It comes down to filtering the right elements and presenting an inspiring story to the customer.

Make the difference with your content

Ensure that your customers find the information they are looking for. Information that inspires them, convinces them or teaches them something. This enables you to make the difference at the crucial contact moment. Content marketing guarantees a better defined brand awareness, generates more qualified leads and results in a stronger relationship with the customer. Through the development of a content portfolio, content marketing becomes a tactic that works across teams and allows to support the customer in his entire buying journey.

No sales process but a purchasing process

An increasing number of people are involved in a B2B purchasing decision. In addition, an increasingly larger part of the decision-making process is already over when sales comes into contact with the customer. As a result, the sales department needs to be able to easily map each contact’s willingness to buy. This makes it much easier to determine a win strategy and to ensure that the most effective action is carried out at the right moment.

This method is called Buyer-Aligned Selling and demonstrates how, when and with which messages and tools you can reach your contacts in the best manner, facilitate their purchasing process and convert leads into customers with significantly greater predictability.