I read two great blogs in the last couple of weeks: David Harkelroad’s which asserted that the biggest problem in strategy is mindset; and an HBR blog on “What Gets in the Way of Listening?” I think they are related since if you truly listen, you are open to having your mind changed. I am curious as to how others deal with their leadership’s lack of listening ears? I know as a telephone interviewer that there are not enough listening ears and that job disengagement in the US is around 70%, so if they answer their phone, they are likely to be informative.
Join us (Ellen Naylor, Business Intelligence Source; Mitch Emerson, Compelligence; Dean Davison, Forrester Research) for a free 45 minute webinar, “From Competitive Intelligence Collection to Sales Enablement,” on April 22, 2014 at Noon Eastern US. Learn how to collect more effectively from your sales force; how to transform that data into competitive intelligence that Sales can tap into for each deal; and how to hold conversations with customers in ways that resonate with them and engage them to buy.
The key to success in communication to and from sales is to understand your company’s sales culture, and what might be fun and engaging for them to be cooperative in sharing what they learn in a timely manner. Go to where sales is to get them to engage. Many sales people travel extensively, so they have time in the car or airplane to write, tape or text about what they’re learning. They also value information from their peers. Maybe you can facilitate more sharing among peers, even informally. In my experience it takes a couple of years to get sales information to flow. You have to earn their trust to build that relationship.
“From a Good Sales Call to a Great Sales Call” focuses on improving Sales’ post-decision debrief process with prospects, referred to as win loss analysis in the competitive intelligence world. I like how the author, Richard Schroder, adds ‘post-decision debrief’ as the 7th element of the sales process. Apparently only 18% of US companies have a formal win loss program. Thus, in most new business situations, sales people don’t have a complete and accurate understanding of why they won or lost sales. If armed with such data, Sales can make behavioral changes to improve close rates by 15%.
A strategic visual competitive intelligence tool I really like is the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Matrix Share Momentum model. You can see at a glance with little explanation how to read the results of this model. In competitive intelligence terms, the tool is a great primer to communicate to management a share of market snap shot.
One tool that been very popular with Sales forces over the years is “Switching Cost Analysis.” The goal is to help retain your customers! Identify all the hidden costs of the competitor’s solution which might make it more expensive for the customer to switch. Find enough omitted costs and the customer might wonder what else the competitor is not telling them!