Sitting on a plane en route to Dreamforce this year, you couldn’t help but overhear the chatter from dozens of sales execs, partners and others. Everyone was excited to tell their war stories about time in the field, customer hassles and internal roadblocks they had to face while trying to close a deal. Striking up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me was a good chance to ask about the pain points in her organization and at the previous companies she worked for. While there are many stories that will make an account executive cringe, few garner the reactions you’re bound to get when you ask about a company’s quarterly business review (QBR) process.
While many AEs cringe at the thought of prepping and sitting through their QBRs quarter after quarter, the process provides value to the organization. Sales leaders get the opportunity to review performance, discuss goals and engage in sales territory planning. Quarterly Business Reviews give a great excuse for coaching on the ways and means to execute sales processes more efficiently in the coming quarter. Unfortunately, the process has become a time suck. Reps waste days out of the field and valuable selling time pulling reports, parsing data and producing presentations that are likely never looked at again after the hour long review. Look familiar?
The data becomes stale before you even start the review and it’s only valuable for the immediate discussion. You may come up with some great ideas for expanding your territory or get some great tips, but where’s the follow-through? Too often, QBRs lead to increased insight into what a rep could and should be doing to grow their business only to have the next quarter’s QBR seem like groundhog day as all of that insight gets buried in a file folder somewhere.
It gets worse if your QBR isn’t as simple as the example shown above, it’s not uncommon to see company’s with QBR decks that span 20-30 pages. As more data and more views are required, the time and pain to complete a QBR jumps exponentially for members of the sales team. You’ve already input all of the data into Salesforce – shouldn’t that count for something? It’s time for a change.
Make your QBR Useful:
Having been through the process ourselves, we think there is a better way to leverage data you ALREADY have to give managers the insight they need. Shouldn’t you focus more time on actually strategizing how you should grow your territory instead of spending frustrating time pulling reports and formatting PowerPoint?
Utilizing Shibumi for your sales execution cuts down on time preparing by automatically integrating with all of your Salesforce data and account information. Quarterly Business Reviews become less static and are able to be monitored and reviewed throughout the quarter to ensure you get the coaching you need to stay on track. Automation has been working throughout every aspect of the sales process to speed onboarding, document delivery, customer education and countless other tasks – don’t you think it’s time you took a step to automating your QBRs too so you can spend more time driving revenue growth for your territories?
See how Shibumi can save you time and money and turn your Quarterly Business Review into something that helps you and your team succeed throughout the quarter.
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One of the most difficult parts of building a sales force is bringing new account executives up to speed on your company’s sales process. As we mentioned in a prior post, having an established sales process is critical to your ability to measure your sales effectiveness and try new approaches. A written sales process also allows you to efficiently and effectively transfer that knowledge rapidly to new reps. Your team may possess raw sales talent, but if they’re not trained on your process, a lot of that talent may go to waste.
When a new sales rep is brought onboard, every company spends (or should spend) a considerable amount of time coaching and training on the product. Naturally, this makes sense and will be crucial to unlocking the talent of the rep. You shouldn’t anticipate closing many sales unless your reps have a firm understanding of the product, the customer’s pain points and the competition’s offerings. Often overlooked in training though is the process your company has established to actually close a deal and recognize the revenue.
As almost all sales reps can attest to, their first few deals always progress slower than they should. New reps inevitably struggle navigating all the hurdles put in place to actually recognize a deal. Getting the customer onboard is just one aspect, understanding the batch of forms, approvals and other legal and finance-related steps is another. While a new rep is selling the product, they also have to run a gauntlet of internal processes. Running a parallel process can be the difference between closing a deal by quarter-end and having it slip. As most have learned, time kills all deals.
What do I do now?
As a sales manager, even with naturally talented reps, this is the question that will continually arise during the first few sales cycles for all of your new reps. If it’s not your time that is being requested, it will invariably be that of several other reps in your company that are taking time away from their selling to help navigate the process for the new hire.
Sales execution platforms like Shibumi can help tie all of this together and save your team a ton of time while tying everything back to your existing Salesforce.com data. Further, you’ll be in a position to determine where bottlenecks or unncessary steps might be in your process that are hindering your reps’ ability to do their jobs effectively. Yours deals should close more smoothly and your reps will be confident in the process.
See how Shibumi can help you onboard faster and keep your new reps asking the question “Who do I close next” instead of “what do I do now?” Try Shibumi’s built in sales templates or develop your own to keep your team focused on what matters most – closing the deal.
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As any sales veteran will attest, having a repeatable sales process is a huge benefit. While many rely on natural skill, a sales plan honed from experience is the most effective way to win business. Bottling up what has worked and avoiding what hasn’t greatly increases the chances of winning more customers without wasting time or money.
A Harvard Business Review article from earlier this year by Steve W. Martin highlighted a survey showing the techniques employed by high-performing sales team. Notably, among the high performers, was the presence of a structured sales process – which also tended to be absent from the underperformers.
Establishing a written sales plan turns a hunch into a highly repeatable and data driven process that can be refined and scaled to maximize your sales growth. Taking three easy steps that form the basis for Shibumi’s sales execution process can have you on your way to joining the ranks of the high performers.
Whether you know it or not, you probably already have a sales plan. If you’re a small organization, it might be based on that hunch that has helped your first few reps sniff out deals and get them across the finish line. Don’t waste that knowledge! Putting down the concrete set of steps, actions and interactions that helped you win that first deal can be critical to winning more. It can also be critical to helping you clone your top performers and bringing new reps up to speed much more quickly as you scale to become a larger organization.
If you’re a large sales organization without an established process, congratulations – you’re one of the few. If you have one, however, there still may be room for refinement and improvement to tweak multiple approaches for different products and environments. Having a plan is the key to improving and leads us to step 2.
The adage that “you can’t improve what you can’t measure” rings as true in sales as it does in every other line of business. Now that you’ve established a solid plan based on some experience, it’s time to validate it. When used properly, Salesforce.com and other CRM solutions are incredible tools for collecting data on your prospects, opportunities, pipeline and sales cycle. Now is the time to put that to use.
Having the data at your fingertips to slice and dice based on changes in your approach is key to understanding the critical elements of your plan. For some organizations, increasing your closed won will be the only metric that matters and data will be easily available to report on. More complex metrics that involve multiple parties or roll-ups may require a little more digging. Fortunately, with many tools available to pull data directly from your CRM, the old days of manually running reports and running the calculations by hand are gone.
You may be surprised by the correlations or trends you’re starting to see. Do you close 70% of the deals where your reps got real world data from your customer (step X in your close plan) but only 20% when they don’t? This is incredible insight into how prospects see value in your product and how you may be able to nurture deals that will happen and cut loose the prospects that are just wasting your time.
A diagnosis of what’s working (or sometimes more importantly – what’s not) is great to show you where you have room for improvement, but unless you adapt more of the good stuff you may not see your numbers growing as quickly as they can. As new reps join with ideas of their own or you launch new products or into new markets your plans and strategies will necessarily change. Having a plan with quantifiable data and key performance indicators (KPIs) backing it up allows you to experiment and expand on the parts that are working. Having the data that proves something is making a difference provides a tremendous opportunity for coaching your reps. That data also allows you to continuously assess and rework your plans to hit your revenue growth targets quarter after quarter.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Take a look at Shibumi today to see how we can kickstart your process into high gear! See results instantly with our pre-designed sales plan templates or customize your own. Shibumi will help you leverage your CRM data more effectively and drive the results you expect from your team.
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The difference between a wild success and a novel failure is the ability to execute against strategy. In many cases, even if the strategy is flawed, the organization that executes best, wins. I’ve read this so many times that it’s almost become a cliché.
The mechanics of strategic execution is what I’m interested in. And it turns out it’s not that complicated. Ultimately it consists of three simple concepts.
Putting it to practice
Taking these three concepts and putting them into practice should be simple and straightforward. For successful execution, everyone has to participate and feel empowered.
As a summary, remember: Goals – Metrics – Action Plans
We’ve put this to practice at Shibumi and have done some pretty incredible things.
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Working with our customers over the last year, we’ve reinforced our belief that effective communication is key to managing goals and initiatives. Teams are constantly spending precious hours updating management on progress and revising expectations.
Most often, people fallback to PowerPoint when they need to do briefingsor communicate progress with a large group; however, ’duplicative work’, ‘instantly out of date’, ‘time consuming’ is what we most hear about PowerPoint.
In response to this we’ve added a suite of features to replace the one off presentations.
To craft a story, you may want to highlight certain details such as specific milestones, KPIs or status messages. Giving access to the entire initiative or goal can cause information overload for a viewer. Dashboards are meant to simplify the views and display a subset of information. Combined with Shibumi’s custom sections, you have a powerful tool for communication.
Once the dashboard is built, invite others to view it. Presto, no more one off, manually created presentations. As you update your plan, the dashboard updates instantly increasing the timeliness of information and decreasing your workload. And with Shibumi’s advanced security features you can tell your story internally or externally with complete confidence that you remain in control.
Part of being able to tell your story is having control over layout. Being able to highlight goals in the top right, metrics in the bottom left, a scorecard right in the middle. This all plays to guiding a viewer down a narrative.
In support of this the Shibumi interface is now based on custom sections. Custom sections give you complete control over how the page is layed out and where information appears so you can determine what, when and how your viewers are consuming the information you want to share.
With custom sections you can resize, drag and drop, add custom labels and more.
Get started by creating an initiative and clicking the ‘Add Section’ button.
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Shibumi is a cloud-based application used to simplify the execution of initiatives and deliver results. We’re all about defining goals, aligning business activity and measuring performance along the way. Working with our customers we’re often asked about Six Sigma.
Working with many Six Sigma practitioners, we have crafted some useful features to better manage projects utilizing that methodology.
Templates are the key
We started by creating a template for Six Sigma projects. Because templates can be completely customized, including contents and layout, we were able to fully support the DMAIC methodology. This didn’t only include DMAIC but also all the phases and tasks under each of those steps. In addition, we attached the standard deliverables that should be produced at each stage. For example:
To capture all the quantitative data necessary for Six Sigma we leveraged Shibumi metrics. This included metrics like:
All of this culminated in a fairly detailed template that customers have already put to use in live Six Sigma projects. Shibumi is a turn-key application that can help you and your team organize and track your progress and have you executing like the black-belt you truly are. Try it out.
If you’d like more information about this, please contact us.
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