It's Time For Business Development To Eat Its Broccoli

Sales Process is the "broccoli" of the sales world – we know it is good for us but we still have a hard time implementing it. Find out why #embracingbroccoli is key to your business growth.

By David Baars, Marketing Manager at PipelineDeals

I love working with sales and business development teams but I hate the feeling of “being sold.” When I’m being sold, I get the distinct feeling that:

  • The salesperson’s needs are more important than my business’s needs.

  • The salesperson’s time is more important than my time.

  • The salesperson’s priorities are more important than my business’s priorities.

The best salespeople don’t make you feel like you’re being sold to at all. The best salespeople make you feel you have learned something valuable and they motivate you to take action. The best salespeople have a process for making themselves trusted advisors and help you navigate a complicated business decision. In short, they make buying easy and fun.

The idea that buyer’s hate being sold to is conventional wisdom at this point. So why does it feel like we’re drowning in impersonal pitches, unwanted emails, and generally scammy sales hacks? Because we ARE drowning.

Business development and sales is built on three pillars: people, process, and technology. Of these three pillars, I believe process is the most important and least sexy element of sales. It’s the proverbial “broccoli” of the sales world. And business development is still struggling to embrace sales process. 

Negatives sales behaviors like scammy pitches, not respecting a buyer's time, and impersonal emails and cold calls are symptoms of poor sales process. And truthfully, (many) salespeople have not embraced broccoli since the dawn of sales.

Salespeople have been quick to embrace technologies that make their work easier and more fun. For instance, sales enablement tools like YesWare, Salesloft, and the new Connect feature for PipelineDeals are great for helping salespeople know which emails are resonating with buyers. This type of technology helps salespeople focus on who to follow-up with and when.

There’s a dark side to these technologies that many sales teams do not admit. We may have the technology to scale business development, but that doesn’t mean we have the right processes in place to scale in the right way.

Interestingly, the adoption of new technologies in sales has grown in parallel with a rise in sales hacks. Sales hacks are quick, tactical measures that promise to improve your sales results in a big way with little effort. While sales hacks do not necessarily have to be bad, an over-reliance on these hacks in the absence of a clear strategy is dangerous.

To illustrate, I've recently been receiving cold emails from digital marketing and advertising businesses. As a fellow marketer and paid search advertiser, I understand how PipelineDeals ended up as a potential lead for these agencies. I respect that they’re trying to build awareness and win my business. I’m not convinced though that many of these businesses have a coherent process in place to predictably win new business.

Take for example the email that I received below. I’ve received this same email, almost word-for-word, from scores of sales development reps.

Admittedly, I’m choosing to highlight a particularly lame email that I’ve received one too many times. It also happens to be featured as a "winning" email template on a popular blog for sales development reps. However, most emails that I receive from business development types are not much better.  

As business development professionals, I am concerned about the philosophy underpinning this type of spammy business development. At the very least, we should recognize that it is disrespectful of your buyer’s time to copy an email template you read on a blog somewhere and call it a day.

I make it a point to accept nearly every cold call because I’m really passionate about business development. Many sales development reps (SDRs) I interact with daily do not have a solid process in place for becoming a trusted advisor. What I hear from SDRs when they call is: these are MY needs, give ME your time, focus on MY priorities. This egocentric view of your product or service is precisely the reason why people hate being sold to.

So what can we do about it? If you’re not happy with your business’s sales results, then take a look back at the fundamentals of sales. It can be tempting to throw more money at your sales problem by adding more salespeople or purchasing new technology, but that money will be wasted if your sales process is not fundamentally sound. Bad process is costing your business’s time, money, and reputation. It’s time for sales and marketing to eat their broccoli and develop a better sales process.

What Major CRM Companies Are Failing To Do For Their Customers.

As salespeople, we’ve all had the importance of follow-up drilled into us. I’m sure many of us have even had the sad occasion to miss out on opportunities because of poor follow up. Now, thanks to Benchmark Research Group, we have numbers for just how big of an impact timely follow-up has.

Using the CRM industry as a case study, Benchmark Research Group examined the sales response times from five CRM providers including PipelineDeals, SalesForce, and Insightly to gain a sense of how quickly sales teams are following up on inbound sales opportunities and the effect that had on their ability to close business.

The results were startling, with every company except for PipelineDeals taking more than two days to follow up on inbound leads. To be clear, these leads are people who called in looking to start a trial or schedule a demo.

According to Benchmark Research Group, delaying by even a few days can have a dire impact on salespeople’s ability to close since they are playing catch up from right out of the gate. Ultimately delaying by three days or even as much as seven can produce a drop in the close rate between 50x and 1000x.

These numbers are huge and drive home the importance of having systems in place across the company to help speed the transfer of leads to the sales team. As we move towards a world where customers expect increasingly fast response times, aligning the sales team with departments such as customer care, customer success, and marketing is becoming a strategic advantage.

Of course, even more important than moving fast when you’re trying to get clients in the door is keeping up the level of attention once they become customers. What many buyers fear, and sadly what they’re all two likely to experience, is a drop in attention as soon as the get on board. This oversite is a quick way to lose customer trust and is entirely preventable.

Many companies view customer care as an expense with no real upside to it. This is a mistake. Using ourselves as an example, PipelineDeals strives to make our response to active customers as fast or even faster than we’re able to respond to new potential buyers.

This effort has led to many benefits, for us, but especially for our customers, who know they can rely on us to support their sales operations. While the emphasis here is on doing right by the customers, focusing on responding to customer requests as quickly as possible has a direct payoff from a sales perspective as well.

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that clients who are well cared for and have their needs met promptly renew at a substantially higher rate than those that don’t. Furthermore, customers who get support can experience the value of a product to a much greater degree than those that are left on their own. The fuller experience, in turn, drives up-sell and cross-sell opportunities down the road.

We’re proud to be recognized by the Benchmark Research Group for our focus on rapid sales response. But the truth is, for us at PipelineDeals, it’s only half the equation. What we attempt to do, and what we hope that our software helps other companies do, is take care of the customer, from the first introduction to conclusion. This core belief is the bedrock of customer-centric thinking. 

3 Tips for Hitting the Ground Selling Each Day in Sales

Hitting your full potential in sales requires discipline. Use these strategies in your day to maximize selling hours and see what you can accomplish. 

By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals

Hit the ground selling every morning with these strategies

Salespeople face a productivity problem. It’s not that they’re not working hard, and it’s not that they don’t know their job. Instead, salespeople face a constant need to remain as focused on hitting their numbers, even while organizations increasingly demand more from people in all job functions. Finding ways to maximize productivity during peak selling hours is essential to success in sales. Even with this mandate, one still needs to accomplish the myriad housekeeping tasks that are put in front of you every day.


Here are three simple ways that all salespeople can manage their time to make sure they hit the ground running each day. 


Everything comes down to setting up the day to be as focused and distraction-free as possible. Staying focused on selling means carving out time to take care of housekeeping items outside of regular selling hours and having the discipline not to let them spill over.


At its core, it means taking a strategic approach to the day and the week and structuring it so that you can focus on the task at hand and not on trying to figure out what you need to do next.


At the end of the day, it all comes down to avoiding task switching as much as possible.


Close your shop


The first secret to getting off on the right foot in the morning starts the day before. At the end of every day, there is usually a menagerie of different tasks that are begging for your attention. From following up with managers to researching new opportunities, the end of the day is the ideal time to tackle these tasks.


Close out your sales activity in the CRM

As the day goes on and you accumulate various items demanding your attention, write down the tasks in a notebook, app, or CRM and move on. At the end of the day revisit these items and power through the to-do list.


Doing this accomplishes a couple of things for a salesperson. First, it provides a structure to help them keep on top of items, so they don’t pile up and either cause issues or infringe on selling time. Secondly, by relegating them to one corner of the day, it subtly reinforces that they are not your primary function as a salesperson, and their priority is lower than actively selling.


Tackle housekeeping tasks in the evening, not the morning. For salespeople, the morning is a hectic time, preparing for calls and setting appointments with little time for anything else. Compared to the other parts of the day, task follow-up is a low-intensity activity, and so should be accomplished with the lowest energy and lowest value part of the day.


Know your numbers first thing in the morning


With the morning consumed by the need to get materials together for client presentations, the first hours of the day are often a ‘hard charging’ portion of the day. Hitting the ground running means not only having a firm understanding what’s on the agenda for the day but how the day is going to impact your overall goal.


Know where your numbers are at and where they need to be. 

Doing this means knowing what deals are in your sales pipeline, how they are progressing through the sales process and the impact they will have on your overall numbers. Knowing these details is how good reps maintain their ‘north star,' even as they relentlessly pursue new opportunities.


Seeing these numbers first thing in the morning is an important part of getting the day off to the right start. Being knowledgeable of the details of your sales pipeline influences everything else that gets done during the day, from prospecting to the amount of prep going into a presentation, and provides the purpose that unites the various sales activities that take place over the course of the day.  


Set time aside for prospecting


Of all the competing priorities that salespeople face every day, none is more challenging than cold prospecting. Because of the difficulty, many salespeople harbor a distaste for it. Accordingly, prospecting time often finds itself cannibalized for other purposes.


Make time on the calendar for prospecting

The simplest way to make sure it remains a priority is to treat it as a hard appointment on your calendar on a daily basis. By giving it this kind of precedence, salespeople build a habit around it and it becomes a regular part of the day.


Doing so on a regular basis is essential because sales prospecting is a skill set that improves substantially with regular practice and fades quickly if not exercised consistently.


Even more important than developing the skill set is the critical leads that prospecting brings in at the top of the sales funnel. Without adding these leads in, sales pipelines quickly dry up and once dry, can take substantial effort to redevelop. Just as important as hitting the ground running is making sure that there is an active sales pipeline to work when you get there.


Make a day of it


By taking these three essential steps, salespeople make a huge leap forward in increasing their sales productivity. The secret lies in understanding that not every minute of your day has the same value. Time in which your clients are available to reach is as good as gold. Taking advantage of every one of these minutes is essential to finding your full potential as a salesperson.


Pulling all of this together into a day, and ultimately a professional lifestyle, takes discipline and motivation to keep going. There will always be demands that try to place themselves above your number one priority-selling to customers. Staying flexible enough to meet the challenges the world throws at you while remaining motivated by your priorities is the mark of a master practitioner. Harness these skills and make them your own to find success in sales.