All posts by Kevin Temple

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Mastering Virtual Web Based Selling Helps Act-On Software Increase Average Contract Value 28% In Less Than Two Months

If you or others in your organization rely on a web meeting platform like WebEx or GoToMeeting to conduct sales calls this article should be very interesting to you. While the advent of web based meeting platforms have improved the efficiency and volume of sales calls, the environment adds challenges to a discipline that relies heavily on reading body language and non-verbal communication. We’re proud to announce the outcome of our project to help Act-On Software improve the results of their web based virtual sales calls!

Act-On Software is the leading provider of marketing automation for fast-growing businesses, helping more than 4,800 brands maximize customer lifetime value. The company relies on an inside sales team that interacts with customers via dual screens and the WebEx web conferencing platform.

Act-On retained ESG to help it increase revenue productivity in a market segment characterized by price sensitivity and a growing number of low cost, low frill competitors. Sales engagements often started with a demo, were limited to a few marketing contacts and resulted in small contracts.

“Our team has improved dramatically at dual screen selling with the help of ESG. They are now qualifying customers better and more quickly, focusing on the drivers of customer value, and connecting our solutions to customer problemsDavid Satterwhite, Chief Revenue Officer

ESG helped Act-On’s reps learn to read customers even when they couldn’t see their faces or read their body language. They became skilled at having meaningful conversations about customer problems rather than monologues about Act-On solutions. They qualified customers better and sold value connected to customer business issues.

The transformation was fueled by management’s commitment to the process, and by a company culture focused on continuous improvement. ESG and Act-On’s sales leadership used the company’s instance of Gong.io to review sales calls, guiding sales reps to listen more and talk less, and ask the right kinds of questions to expose underlying business needs.

ESG’s dual screen selling coaching methodology, combined with Gong’s sales diagnosis capability and WebEx’s interactive features provided the recipe for increasing Act-On’s ACV.

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Ramp Up Time Impacts Revenue Growth

One of the most common sales challenges I hear is ramp up time. Even the best sales organizations can experience 10-15% attrition, and if you add some reasonable growth to the picture, like another 10-15%, they can end up with 30% of their sales staff in some stage of ramp up.

The more complex the solution and the longer the sales cycle, the costlier a ramp up challenge can be.

Unfortunately, the knee jerk reaction by most organizations is to pile on more. But drowning your new sales people in product specs, features and benefits can be counterproductive and slow down their ramp up.

While product knowledge is important, insight from CEB and other research firms indicates customers value and trust sales professionals who understand their problems. Moreover, uncovering a problem is the first step in need creation.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Jack Bartell, who mastered the art of becoming a problem expert, and used it to sell a huge deal within three months of taking a sales role with an organization that sells very complex design solutions to computer manufacturers. If this subject is important to you or your organization, you’ll find his story compelling.

Several years ago, Cisco engaged me help them with their ramp up challenge. They were experiencing nine to twelve months before their reps were hitting quota level revenue production on a monthly basis. We took Jack’s lesson about the problem expert approach to heart – teaching their new sales people about the problems customers have maintaining and managing their network. The result was a dramatic reduction in their ramp up time, shrinking the 9-12 month ramp up cycle down to 3-4 months depending on their vertical territory assignment. That’s a factor of three or four improvement! Imagine how much revenue that accelerated for a company the size of Cisco.

Cracking the code on ramp up and helping reps get productive is one of the most critical issues for high growth companies.  Please weigh in and let us know what you’ve seen and learned about the topic.

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Survey results: love and hate for dual screen selling

The good news is that sales pros love selling over the web. The bad news is sales pros hate selling over the web.

The split is understandable. It’s easier and less expensive to schedule and conduct a web conference than align travel and in person meetings. Yet according to our survey respondents, golden opportunities to engage and qualify customers are missed when the connection is virtual and online.

When selling via web conference:
– a small percentage of sales professionals use the polling and interactive features of their web conferencing solutions to solidify the problem definition
– the majority find it challenging to qualify or disqualify opportunities
– a similar majority think it’s difficult to reach agreement and connect their solution to customer’s underlying business problem

Not surprisingly, few have received web conference-specific training to address these challenges.

For better or worse, selling via web conference isn’t going away. A large percentage of B2B sales cycles will continue to start with a conversation via GoToMeeting, Zoom, WebEx or similar solution.

We’re listening and we’ve got a response: we’re piloting a new program to develop skills for selling via web conference, applying the proven Agile Framework for the online experience. We’d love your input, so please reply to this post or contact us to share your thinking.

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Take the 30-Second Survey on Dual Screen Selling

A number approaching “all” of B2B sales cycles start with a web delivered sales presentation.  This holds for both inside sales teams and also field sales reps.  Yet, according to our clients, few sales professionals of either stripe take full advantage of the interactive capabilities of web conferencing platforms to better qualify and engage customers on the other end of the second screen.  Nor are they executing critical sales process steps.  And according to those clients, opportunities are compromised and lost as a result.

There is no sign that dual screen selling is going to slow down any time soon.  Since it will continue to be with us, we’re curious about your experience with typical B2B sales challenges and the dual screen environment – take our 30-second survey (for sales leaders and sales professionals) and we’ll report back on what we learn from your colleagues and peers.