Archive for the 'Six sigma' Category

Some of the reasons that selling is harder today – Saman Haqqi on The Era of Sales 2.0

November 06, 2007Sales is harder

Saman Haqqi, Vice President of Marketing at Landslide, presented a compelling workshop about The Era of Sales 2.0: New Tools and Workstyles to Supercharge your Sales Performance.

Saman began by setting the stage with the changes that have happened in the selling environment over the last five years:

  • distributed teams
  • brief product training
  • limited face-to-face time with corporate office
  • online selling via web – limited face-to-face time with buyers

Additionally, buying behavior has shifted:

  • buying cycle begins long before sales cycle
  • buyers always online, never available
  • buyers are well informed
  • they don’t want features presentations, they want problem solutions

These changes have affected sales performance; lowering the percentage of reps who meet quota to 57%, increasing the number of calls it takes to close a sale, and increasing the percentages of deals lost (30.3%) and no-decision deals (21.3%). Additionally, the ramp time for new sales reps has extended beyond a year for 27.8%.

But, there’s hope. Saman explained that Sales 2.0 includes tools that help salespeople prepare, interact, engage and close customers while remotely following a company’s best selling process. These tools enable two-way conversation, not just enabling the download of content, but encouraging the upload of content from customer to company.

Sales 2.0 is the transition from chaos to process-based selling. More feet on the street won’t help get us there. She says that sales needs to be thought about almost as an assembly line – a consistent and repeatable process. If everyone does their own thing, then outcomes aren’t predictable and sales will stall.

One of the more interesting things Saman shared was that they have taken C players, given them sales training and seen them performing at 70% to 80% of A player level after one year. Prior to this program, the C players would have been at 30% of their A player counterparts. Given turnover and the difficulty in finding great salespeople, this should give companies hope that if they get their process tuned, they too can multiply their results.

The critical factor is that products and selling environments are getting more difficult. Complexity increases the need for performance improvement.

Sales process is not a one-size-fits-all process. It needs to be constructed in a way that’s adaptable as each deal is different.

One of the processes that needs to be embraced is the streamlined funnel. Better results will be derived if the focus is on interested leads, not all leads. Spending time on unqualified leads can waste your efforts.

Saman stated that marketing needs to become relevant to sales.

We could not agree more at Rocket Builders.

Its Not Rocket Science. Mitchell Gooze

Its Not Rocket Science. Mitchell Gooze. 2002. ISBN 1889772046. Of course I had to buy this book!
More than a catchy title, this is the clearest delineation of the role of marketing to build a sustainable business. I wish I had written this. If you want to win, you need this book. Its a keeper and a good read.

The Leaky Funnel. Hugh MacFarlane. A diamond from Australia

The Leaky Funnel. Hugh MacFarlane. 2003. ISBN 0975116320. I had heard about this great book from Chris Jordan and Michael Webb. I read it on part of my 36 hr flight back to Canada from Australia/New Zealand ( more later) It is a very well presented, simply put, but brings all the elements we have been working on for the last few years together. What The Goal did for manufacturing, the Leaky Funnel will do the same for Sales and Marketing. Written as a business “fable” for CEOs you will see the parallels to your business. Do not hesitate to immediately buy this book. If you read only one book on sales and marketing this year, read this one. I liked it a lot. (ony available from (Not to say doing this stuff well is easy.)

Lots of resources 

Share of Wallet , a sales metric you need to know, to improve the value of your company

I was recently reminded about the importance of share of the wallet. I.e. How much of your clients dollars (and need) available for what you are selling are you getting? I learned that a prospective client has sold (years back) a six seat licence of their software product to Microsoft. He was pleased to have Microsoft as a “client”. Think about it, only 6 people in a 71 000 man company “need” this product. A local (and younger) competitor has recently sold their similar product to Microsoft, but they have sold 100′s of seats, and continue to sell more. The prospect client should not be at all content with his penetration of Microsoft, and especially not with his share of Microsofts’ wallet. Share of wallet metrics are dear to savvy entrepreneurs’ and investors’hearts. (This is a part of selling that IBM did very well. ) Growth companies should have a handle on the share of wallet they are getting from every customer and “what they intend to do to increase it on a regular basis”. This is also an inexpensive way to increase sales. 6 seats out of 71 000 is nothing to be content about, nor does it do anything to continue to add to company value. A serious symptom of many things wrong in the sales and marketing process.

Reg Nordman (facing another (k)night on the road!)

Value Acceleration. Mitch Gooze’ & Ralph Mroz

Value Acceleration. Mitch Gooze’ & Ralph Mroz. 2007. ISBN 1599320096.
Value Acceleration is a break through book! It applies the process
improvement tools that great companies like IBM, Toyota, Intuit are
using to overpower their competitors. However the book does not get
bound up in terminology. It is also well researched, written and
attributed. The footnotes are bang on. My lesson learned was the clear
delineation of the importance of Marketing as a strategic interface
between Product Development and Sales. This book is a major step toward
successful implementation of Six Sigma and Lean Thinking to result in an
end-to-end Product Development- Marketing- Sales process. The book makes
it clear that this will be key to good companies being able to continue
to seize market opportunities. The Prologue as a fable is extremely
well done and grips the reader. A must buy for all businesses! Check out his manifesto

Six Sigma for Marketing Processes. Creveling, Hambleton & McCarthy

Six Sigma for Marketing Processes. Creveling, Hambleton & McCarthy.
2006. ISBN 013199008X. Part of a Prentice Hall series, Although its
labelled an overview, this is not a book for the faint hearted.
Absolutely chock full of how to install a six sigma system inside your
marketing dept. There are a few mentions of companies such as 3M
getting a 300% return from this effort. One could call this a definitive
textbook on what to do. A lesson learned was the degree of detail,
reliability and predictability such work can bring about in your
efforts. I would say read Ch 1 and Ch 8 first before you dive in. Not an
easy read, it leans on the academic side, appealing to a numbers and
acronyms driven individual.

What Sticks. Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart

What Sticks. Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart. Why Most Advertising Fails and
How to Guarantee Yours Succeeds. ISBN 1419584332. 2006. Things learned.
47% of advertising does not work (= $37B). 70% of marketing staff time
is spent on rework. $53 B of marketing money is wasted due to not
understanding customer motivation. There are no more important things
to get right than, 1. Customer motivation and needs (why would they hire
your product/co.?) 2. Positioning (how you differentiate) and 3.
Segmentation (Different groups of customers might need to buy your
products differently).

Then 31 % of companies got their messaging all wrong. = $35.8 B wasted.
Seeing a trend here? Sales and marketing is the last area in business
that needs a complete process chain style overhaul This book is full
of the data that shows you where the wastes are happening, how to put
in measures and processes to figure out what is happening and then what
to do to make it right. Remember the 70:20:10 ratio. Spend 70% of money
on present customers/products, 20% on sustainable extensions and 10% on
wild-ass innovation. However Test , Measure/analyse, deploy the
innovation. Measure everything! This is not an easy read, but a
watershed book for marketing & sales At Rocket Builders this is how we
do things, so I guess I am somewhat prejudiced. But our metrics and
results prove this correct.

Waiting for Your Cat to Bark. Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg.

Waiting for Your Cat to Bark. Bryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg.2006. ISBN 0785218971. Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing. Good book. The metaphor; customers used to be like dogs, always happy to see you (Its all about you), but that has changed, customers are more like cats, its all about them, and they will pay attention when they feel like it. The authors have a process that you run through in order to ensure that every customer touch/approach is designed to get them to decide and act, at some time. They are fans of metrics and surprise, the application of Six Sigma to sales and marketing.Useful book, easy read and very salient.

Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way. Michael J. Webb

Sales and Marketing the Six Sigma Way. Michael J. Webb and Tom Gorman.
2006. ISBN 13 978 1 4195 2150. If you only buy one book this year on
Sales and Marketing, this is the one. Over ten years of practice and
application placed in a breakthrough book. Webb has delineated where
high performance sales and marketing teams must move to in the present
day. Well beyond solution selling he addresses how to meet the customers
business goals, while eliminating the waste and uncertainty in today’s
sales and marketing approaches. We just completed an amazing set of
engagements where we took a lot of waste/uncertainty out of sales and
marketing programs, yet Webb has provided more tools allowing us to go
even further. The subject is well treated, you learn a lot and the co-writer
is a good writer. Buy read, read again, again and apply, learn,
re-apply. Am I excited? You bet!

Marketing Led Sales Driver. Ajay K Sirsi.

Marketing Led Sales Driven. Ajay K Sirsi. How Successful Businesses Use
the Power of Marketing Plans and Sales Execution to Win in the
Marketplace. 2006. ISBN 141202178. I discovered this book while
researching the question,” What is the effective linkage between
marketing and sales that gives a company the best shot in the market?”
This book’s abstract came up and it was very interesting. The book may
be thin (155pp) and easy to read, but it packs a big wallop.

If you really want to start to improve the effectiveness of your
marketing and sales efforts this is an excellent but terse guide. In
applying similar ideas (plus others) in a recent program
implementation, we were able to increase our cold call prospect to
qualified lead ratio to over 80% in a very short time. These numbers
are unheard of in our space. This has direct impact on sales cycles,
cost of sales and quarterly revenues. One word of advice, this approach
puts big expectations on your marketing person’s capability, but it
works. Only a few marketing types I have met look at the world this way.
Yet they were the incredibly successful ones. Definite addition to your
library, at a shocking price.