Sales POP - Purveyors of Propserity
Why are Sales Opportunities Lost?

Why are Sales Opportunities Lost?

A notable function a sales manager must master is understanding why sales are won or lost. This is particularly true for large, complex sales opportunities where there may never be another opportunity or, if so, it may be years in the future. In all likelihood this opportunity had a high profile within the company and there will be more than passing curiosity about why the company lost or why the company won! The proximate reasons may not make sense (too much money, missing capability) when these apparent issues were known and dismissed during the sales cycle (“we know your offering costs more, but it is worth more” or “we will never need that capability so it doesn’t matter to us”).

WHY is this important to discover?  The sales manager can determine if there are salesperson deficiencies, salesperson effectiveness, Competitor strategies, product limitations, etc.

When the decision between two vendors is extremely close, small differences may be the stated reason for selecting one vendor over another. However, these are unlikely to be actual reasons, just the rationale.

In most cases the sale is won or lost much earlier in the sales cycle. The most common reasons are: (1) failure to differentiate your offering from the competition and/or (2) failure to differentiate the buying experience from the competition.

Let us dig deeper into each of these. For many salespeople, meeting the prospect’s stated requirements are what they believe is their sales function. This is particularly true for newer salespeople who do not understand why the prospect needs what they state they need or are incapable of expanding what the customer’s requirements should be.

An expert salesperson will not simply accept what the prospect thinks they want but will engage with the prospect to understand the context of the requirements and attempt to explore unstated additional requirements the prospect did not consider, but should. The salesperson who can do this effectively elevates the prospect’s trust and credibility in the salesperson and their company. Even should another vendor be able to demonstrate similar functionality, the initiator has already “won”.

For the majority of sales opportunities this differentiation occurred weeks or months before the decision during the discovery and presentation phase.

Differentiation of the buying cycle can have multiple elements:

  • How responsive was marketing and/or the salesperson to initial requests?
  • If the prospect did not have a clear decision process (true in many cases) how did the salesperson help them to understand why they should have one and what it should include.
  • How did the salesperson/company help the prospect with their internal selling challenges?

As an example, a salesperson who recognizes a justification is likely required by the prospect, helps the prospect think through what is needed and can provide supporting materials (PowerPoint template, justification calculators, pro/con tables of options) will be perceived as a partner instead of an adversary.

Again, in many sales cycles the presentation of options to an internal capital approval committee or an informal management group will occur before the final vendor decision. A salesperson who can assist a prospect through this process will yield increased confidence that this vendor can help them succeed once the project begins.

Successful selling organizations understand these points and invest a significant amount of training, role playing and account strategizing during these phases of the sales cycle.


In the regular sales strategy sessions with your salesperson:

  1. Focus on the stated reasons the prospect is buying and what else they should considering
  2. Who the likely competitors could be and how they will respond
  3. What and how your salesperson can expand the requirements and who else it impacts within the prospect’s company
  4. How your capabilities can differentiate your offering from the competition
  5. Whether the prospect knows how to buy and what advice & aids your salesperson can provide
  6. Institute a formal Win/Loss analysis, ideally with a trained non-salesperson conducting the interview within a week of a decision.


An effective sales leader will build a culture that embraces the need for constant, regular opportunity reviews and helps their sales team members answer, for each opportunity, the key questions of “Why do anything and Why do it with us”. They will also recognize the value of understanding wins and losses when they occur and establish a routine process to learn why.

Sales Force – Utilizing Strength for Maximum Productivity

Sales Force – Utilizing Strength for Maximum Productivity

The sales force is a backbone for any corporate player. No company can afford to demoralize or de-motivate its sales force since it can directly impact a company’s performance momentum and can decline growth. Someone nicely quoted – The sales team is the biggest strength for any company but at the same time it is the biggest weakness as well.” Being aware of the ground reality importance of sales task force, almost every company take care of every person by introducing different attractive employee friendly policies and by expressing personal interest in motivating them. Companies are always keen to identify certain ways how to utilize the maximum strength of its salesforce and how to achieve the maximum out of it or try to figure out sales force productivity metrics.

Since last decade, the productivity of the sales team has emerged as one of the key concerns in the industry. Sales productivity is the rate at which a salesperson generates revenue for the company. Rather than pushing salesforce to work more and work harder, an increase in sales productivity is concerned with the sales force using their time smartly and more effectively. In order to sustain or to boost the productivity rate, the companies have to set some realistic as well as practical goals like I described below.

An Ideal Game Plan

To improve sales productivity, companies can consider many factors. The responsibility of rising in salesforce productivity does not lie solely with the sales team only. The company is also equally responsible for the same and should invest equal efforts as well. The company can hire some specialist or can use sales productivity software which can be a positive move toward increasing sales productivity.

When it comes to your sales force, productivity is all about making sure you keep your men busy in activities that lead to sales outcomes. It’s up to you to remove as many of the obstacles that prevent sales professionals from selling as is possible and that you keep your team motivated and determined to surpass the sales targets that have been established.

Oneil Williams, Demand Media

An inter-department communication can be improved to let the sales team access all necessary information. Companies can also support sales teams with the required technology when and where it is needed if sales productivity is to be successfully addressed.

The sales team may require frequent refreshment and motivation in order to maintain the momentum on the field. Companies must be very well aware of this fact. Picnics, parties, plays, movie sessions of package tour can be offered to the salesperson. A mentor can also be hired to conduct motivation sessions.

Before this multi-pronged sales productivity strategy can be implemented, a set of clearly defined sales force productivity metrics needs to be established. Because companies that successfully raise their sales productivity, often establish a roadmap and a set of processes based on which future revenue growth can be achieved.

The Speed Breakers and Roadblocks

Before implementing any new or revolutionary strategy, companies need to identify possible loopholes or roadblocks hampering their sales productivity. Some studies and research have shown that salespersons actually spend only 41% of their time selling every week. What then consumes the rest of the sales person’s working time?

There are a number of factors that may lead to this misallocation of time. Each meeting that sales reps attend should be assessed. Because it’s possible particular meeting may unnecessary sometimes. If their presence isn’t absolutely necessary perhaps the meeting can be struck off their calendar. Companies must also ensure that any administrative tasks that can be automated are not being performed manually as it can reduce the load on a salesperson. For example, sales reps can leverage their unique salesforce software email address by sending a blind-copy of any email to outbound customers or prospects to themselves. By taking this step, it will automatically get updated the activity on the contact or lead’s record, meaning the salesperson does not have to waste time on a manual update. This is just a common example of the non-selling activities salesperson might be engaged in.

If a salesperson is spending more than half of his time in non-selling activities, there might well be a number of other tasks that are unnecessarily being performed manually. One way to identify this wastage is for sales managers to perform a ride-along with their teammates. This minor commitment by the sales manager can free the salesperson from multiple non-selling activities which are actually damaging sales productivity. Entire sales teams may need to undergo a training session or two to incorporate a set of automated tasks into their processes. Through a simple analysis of sales team’s non-selling activities, a salesperson can refocus previously wasted time on engaged selling.

Sales Force Productivity Metrics

The solid step to boost sales productivity is related to the establishment of a set of clearly defined salesforce productivity metrics. The metrics should include sales targets as well as sales productivity adoption techniques like use of CRM and smartphone salesforce apps. The sales team can be trained to get familiar with these types of software. The whole salesforce can be restructured into groups based on individual KPIs. Each group can work independently in parallel.

Such adoption of metrics can be as simple as running a report on the company CRM system and shouldn’t need to involve the other units of the company. It can also help to instigate a system that rewards sales reps for utilizing these new techniques.


Once all these strategies and techniques applied, a review exercises should be carried out by the company to evaluate the impact on sales productivity and to check whether the adopted set of best practices can be enshrined as a roadmap for sustained sales productivity or not. A concerted effort from all departments of the company can increase sales productivity rapidly along with systematic approaches, however, each company does not face same challenges and issues so there are no precisely written steps to boost sales force productivity.

3 Nonverbal Behaviors That Will Help You Sell More

3 Nonverbal Behaviors That Will Help You Sell More

There is a compelling amount of evidence that has confirmed that the verbal and nonverbal behaviors salespeople deploy when selling shape how prospects perceive them, the company they represent and the product or service they sell.

In spite of its importance, nonverbal communication is one of the most neglected components of successful selling. This disregard is dangerous because a large part of communication is nonverbal.

The following are three powerful nonverbal behaviors that when executed correctly will boost the effectiveness of any sales presentation.

1. Gestures

One of the leading experts on gestures is Dr. David McNeil, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. McNeil’s research findings have shown that gestures are connected with the spoken word and together produce meaning. He has also identified that the very act of gesturing boosts the brain’s ability to process information and formulate thoughts.

It is important that gestures are natural, but also done with intentionality. Think through how you can display gestures that visually illustrate your words. Also, be mindful of using the same gesture over and over again, as this is often distracting to prospects.

One effective way to monitor your gestures is to video a sales call and then watch it in two different ways. First, view for the purpose of comparing your verbal and nonverbal signals. Are they in sync? Do your nonverbals contradict your words?

When you watch the sales call again, turn the sound off. As you analyze your nonverbal behaviors without the distraction of sound you will acquire a different perspective and notice new areas for improvement.

2. Smiling

One of the most potent, yet underappreciated nonverbal behaviors is smiling. The act of smiling is often overlooked because of its simplicity, but science has revealed that smiling creates a profound impact.

Research studies have shown that smiling causes one to be perceived as being approachable and competent. For instance, one social science study found that interviewees who repeatedly smiled during interviews were far more likely to be offered the job. What’s more, another study identified that the first impression prospects had of sales people was largely shaped by whether or not the salesperson smiled.

When sales people smile, it will improve their performance. This is because when facial muscles contort to produce a smile, blood flow to the brain increases, which lowers the brain’s temperature. This naturally produces feelings of pleasure and puts one in a more optimistic, energetic and productive emotional state.

3. Power Movements

Power movements are movements or poses that alter body chemistry and enhance performance. Research has confirmed that holding “high power” poses, such as placing your hands on your hips, will trigger an increase in testosterone. This release of testosterone will amplify feelings of confidence.

The simplest way to create power movements is to observe how you naturally move when you are extremely confident. You will notice that there are certain gestures or poses that you instinctively adopt. Power movements are the international use of these movements and poses.

The reason power movements are so influential is because science has revealed that they are reflections of confidence and produce confidence. Though feelings influence our body movements, the opposite is also true. If you are feeling one way and you purposefully display body language that reflects a different feeling, soon you will begin to feel more like what your body is representing.

As you begin working to improve your nonverbal behaviors you will notice that within a very short time your ability to communicate will improve and so will your sales results.

5 Ways to Stay Focused on Delivering Results in the Face of Mayhem

5 Ways to Stay Focused on Delivering Results in the Face of Mayhem

I have had the opportunity to lead many types of organizations over my 33+ year career and there is not a more hectic and volatile one than sales.

Consider the daily dynamics sales must contend with: clients calling with demands and complaints, executives blurting out orders because THEY have a client on their tail, competitors disrupting client relations with new offers threatening client loyalty, internal fulfillment crises due to process breakdowns, suppliers running out of inventory, and marketing managers in sales’ face pestering them to push their personal product priorities.

Sales is a storm of activity much of which is “Incoming“; over-the-transom demands over which the salesperson has little control. All of these have the potential of putting salespeople off their game; of forcing them to deviate from the priorities they have in their sales plan.

How do sales contend with the barrage of incoming interference and stick to their sales game plan?

  1. The very first thing you must do is accept that Incoming is a fact of life in sales; and that you need to find a way to deal with it at the same time as you execute your sales plan. Denying the existence of Incoming won’t solve anything, quite the contrary. It will only increase your frustration and anxiety levels making it impossible to do anything well.
  2. Reduce the number of sales plan priorities you have. It’s impossible to have 20 “critical action items” and be able to respond effectively to Incoming. Spread yourself too thin and you not only are incapable of responding to Incoming, you won’t do a good job on any of your sales action items. Eliminate items until you have a handful that will satisfy 80% of your sales plan and open up more capacity for responding to demand activity.
  3. Develop a tactical plan to deal with Incoming. Don’t chase everything that comes in. Establish boundaries related to your sales plan and decide the outcome BEFORE you respond. If Incoming, for example, is related to a service issue for high value client, dedicate more of your time to it than if the marketing guys are hassling you on some product related issue that isn’t in your sales plan priorities.
  4. Track the time spent proactively pursuing your sales plan projects versus responding to Incoming. This will enable you to improve your ability to accurately estimate time available to do sales projects and the time available for demand work.
  5. Delegate as much as you can of either project or Incoming work to maximize the time you can personally dedicate to either. Save yourself for the high value tasks; delegate low value activities to others if you can. Create a “go to” virtual team across the organization to help you with Incoming; champions who “love” you and will do anything to help you. Tap them as much as you can.

I suspect your bonus plan doesn’t reward the volume of Incoming you effectively handle every month, but if you don’t determine an effective way to deal with it you’ll never deliver your sales plan which DOES drive your bonus.

Work on these 5 Incoming tactics; they will serve you well.

Sales Managers: Increased Sales Staring You in the Face

Sales Managers: Increased Sales Staring You in the Face

A sales manager faces many daily frustrations in sorting through and figuring out all the risks that must be estimated, taken and not taken.

A large part of the reason for this frustration is that a sales team is made up all kinds of divergent elements. You have everything from sales superstars to mediocre salespeople, and everything in between. You’re always trying to figure how to make the slower team members better, and how to deal with the diva-type behavior that can be exhibited by your stars. It’s a constant struggle to keep it all together and make sales goals.

Art…or a Craft?

The key to making it all manageable lies in turning an art into a craft.

Sales is described by some as an “art” instead of a “craft.” Over the centuries, we’ve seen a number of arts—medicine and architecture being 2 standout examples—that indeed evolved into crafts that could be taught to anyone. While today there are certainly doctors that are considered stars in their field, there are tens of millions of doctors throughout the world. Sales is no different.

So how do you turn the art of sales into a craft? This should be the primary focus of a sales manager.

KPIs: Bringing Sales Management Under Control

For the simple version of the answer, I quote St. Francis of Assisi:

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

For a sales manager, the “necessary” means implementing the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Some companies have gone overboard with the number of KPIs they’re trying to monitor. It’s almost like they’re trying to fly a modern jet plane, with a hundreds of indicators. But even a pilot flying one of these planes, when it comes to landing it, is not trying to cover all of these indicators—they’re focusing on a few very important ones. Which, as it turns out, is what a sales manager should be doing.

KPIs should consist of the right combination of leading and lagging indicators. Leading indicators mean information about the present that is used to influence future outcomes. Lagging indicators mean information about the past: “How did we do?”

Pipeliner CRM works through a working balance of leading and lagging indicators.

KPI #1 is creation—of leads, accounts and opportunities. These is tracked for each person, for each team, and for the company. How many leads are being created, how many opportunities are being created, how many accounts are being created? If you’re in the people business, you could ask how many contacts you’re creating.

KPI #2 is conversion. Now that you’ve created, how many of them are being converted? How many leads become qualified leads, and then a won opportunities? This KPI gives you insight into the efficiency of your sales team and sales process.

KPI #3 is one that many often ignore: lost opportunities. You can often learn more about your process and your efficiency from closely examining losses, than from wins.

For that reason we’ve equipped Pipeliner with the Archive, in which all losses, complete with all data, are kept. Within the Archive you can dive into complex search functionalities, going into any detail regarding a loss: Price? Competition? Product? Team? Product line?

As long as you don’t know why you’re losing, how can you know why you’re winning?

KPI #4 is about examining (for each individual, team and company) the amount won, compared with the goal. This is an examination over time: Are they steadily winning more and more every month, or is it one month up, one month down? It should be relatively stable.

Lastly, KPI#5 is the comparison of won amount against the lost amount. This gives you the overall picture of the effectiveness of your sales machine.

Note that with any of these KPIs, you can dive in and get more detail on specific opportunities, reps and teams, so that analysis—and therefore solutions—can be specific.

Utilize the right KPIs—and bring sanity, stability and success to sales management!

Discover how Pipeliner CRM—with its instant intelligence, visualized—can bring the right focus to sales management. Get your free trial of Pipeliner CRM now.

Evening Out Company Risk (Lessons From VW)

Evening Out Company Risk (Lessons From VW)

A company is built of people. From person to person, company risk tolerance varies greatly. It runs the total gamut from the person that is so risk-averse that they go into anxiety every time they leave home, all the way to the person that will dive headfirst and go all in on any deal.

The people with these greatly varying risk tolerances are located at all levels of a company—from owners, to executives, to sales managers, to salespeople. Much of the time the bigger risk-takers are lower down the management ladder and are held in check by upper management. For example you might have a salesperson that makes promises upon which the company cannot deliver. Ultimately, in most companies, that salesperson would be disciplined or fired due to the high number of refunds or even lawsuits (if it is a high-ticket item), and violations of company policy about what can and cannot be promised to a prospect.

Sustainability, Risk and Volkswagen

In normal conditions, especially in companies with greater longevity, owners and executives have an understanding that there is a balance between risk and sustainability. Company and product sustainability is directly related to the risks involved with the sale, the product itself and the customer.

It occasionally happens, though, that company management and even owners lose sight of the fact that risk and sustainability are related, and go completely overboard with risk. A fantastic case in point comes right out of today’s headlines—that of German auto maker Volkswagen. VW is now embroiled in scandal for programming their engines to fabricate emissions results. It is evident that company management didn’t consider the risk-versus-reward of such a move and somehow thought “it was all worth it.” Now everyone else can see—even if VW management cannot—that the risk was certainly not worth it. The company, or at least a portion of it, has had its reputation trashed, has been greatly devalued, and has had all of its employees put at risk.

Even It Out

In order for a company to operate smoothly and sustainably, there must be a thorough understanding from the bottom to the top of the risk that is to be taken in deals and with company resources. Owners, management and employees must all have an equal understanding of—and agreement with—that risk.

In that sales is the primary revenue source for a company, a great portion of that risk understanding must occur with sales. Salespeople, sales management, upper management and owners must share the same view of opportunity risk being taken.

Company Risk and Pipeliner CRM

Pipeliner was created so that all levels of a company can share this insight. Through instant intelligence visualized, its intuitive design, and its use of leading and lagging indicators, Pipeliner creates the most accurate picture possible of risk factors as they relate to leads and opportunities.

Risk can then be properly evaluated for:

• Individual opportunities
• individual reps
• sales units or individual territories
• the sales force
• the company as a whole

Pipeliner allows you to evaluate opportunity risk like no other CRM.

Find out for yourself and take a free trial today!

Coming Close But Not Closing?

Coming Close But Not Closing?

Here’s How to Seal the Sale and Stop Coming in Second.

Coming close only counts, the old saying goes, in horseshoes and hand grenades. Your sales efforts are no exception. In fact, being a runner-up in the sales game is often doubly troubling, as you’ve likely invested a lot more in getting their attention than the firms who never showed up on their radar at all.

To find out what separates a done deal from a near miss, Hinge and RAIN Group studied over 700 actual B2B sales opportunities. Here’s a breakdown of how buyers and sellers of professional services identify the most important buyer selection criteria. (more…)

How Do You Increase Sales Effectiveness?

How Do You Increase Sales Effectiveness?

How can you increase sales effectiveness? Sales is a difficult job. If you don’t believe it, try it sometime. Try sitting at that desk, knowing that the actions you take, the decisions you make, could mean the difference between a nice, comfortable income and minimum wage for the month. That the way you approach the person on the other end of that phone line—or sitting right across from you—could spell the difference between a happy, satisfied customer or someone that goes away or hangs up disappointed and annoyed. (more…)

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