Top 10 Business Issues We Can Solve to Drive Productivity

Portfolio selling/selling complex product suites

Why is this important?

  • The portfolio of products to sell is one of the most significant assets of any company. Still, many companies see product portfolio management and complex product suites as unwieldy, without proper process, metrics and data to support the business decisions regarding the products and services in their portfolio of offerings. This, among other things, has led to very large and diverse product portfolios as a “guarantee” for sales (there is ‘something there for every customer’, without a ‘needs based’ analysis, researched market demand or thought of how value propositions will be created or a sensible GTM deployed).
  • Companies have created a vast number of incrementally new products, modified the existing ones as well as acquired new products through mergers. According to many academic studies, in mature companies, there are 1.8 new products added to the product portfolio for each removed product. Actually, this is one of the best indicators of poor product portfolio management (not removing products actively).
  • In fact, the growth of product portfolio can have negative business impact when inspected both from commercial and technical perspectives. Too many and parallel products usually result in confusion for the customer interface, diluting and fragmenting volumes per product or product variant. Furthermore, the sales approach becomes one of cross/up sell sometimes with little consideration for the customer strategy linkage up front and can therefore result on a poor sales experience for the customer.
  • That said, for many Enterprise businesses, the need to create more complex product suites is often driven by the desire to create more ‘competitor proofed’ offerings (obfuscating side-by-side comparisons), increase margin through a bundled sale of services and lessen the likelihood or ease of a client unwind.
  • For sales people, one of their greatest difficulties is being able to articulate the benefits of complex product suites, express the solutions in terms of the customer need, illustrating how the solution can create competitive advantage or remove risk, and monetizing the opportunity within their customer’s language.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Creating self-service analytics, dashboards and predictive interventions, ‘Data to Insight to Action’, white space analysis, MPA content & Distribution.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Systematic account planning, opportunity roadmaps, client strategy mapping, GTM planning, value creation process.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Customer/Buy-side Insight, value proposition creation and articulation, monetizing an opportunity.

Manager as a performance coach/leadership

Why is this important?

  • The managers’ rapport and the quality of their interactions with employees are among the most important factors affecting productivity and engagement. A coaching culture is the practice that’s most highly correlated with business performance (x2 productivity), talent attraction, employee engagement and overall retention.
  • Regular dialogue on performance expectations and organizational goals and helping employees define objectives and priorities are critical success factors.
  • The managers’ ability to use employees’ strengths and offer systematic recognition and encouragement engenders involvement, commitment and the willingness to go the extra mile.
  • A coaching culture focuses on unlocking the potential of workers at all levels, striving to stretch their roles and giving them new responsibilities. In fact, research shows that achievement of a coaching culture coupled with a robust sales process results in around 84% of sellers achieving quota.
  • This approach corresponds much more than the traditional authoritarian management style to the expectations and preferences of millennials (and centennials) who will soon represent the majority of the global workforce.
  • Coaching of employees should not be limited to technical skills (IQ & XQ), but rather embrace a more comprehensive perspective, including personal and social skills, greater awareness and management of emotions (EQ), as well as improving interpersonal competencies.
  • The ability to coach and performance manage through coaching is one of the key drivers of productivity and business performance, and the number one skill sought in leaders, by leaders, when talent is being acquired.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Creating self-service analytics, dashboards and predictive interventions, ‘Data to Insight to Action’, MPA content & distribution.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Sales management systems, meeting cadence/best practice meetings, pipeline and forecasting BP.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Manager as a coach (121, group ILT&VILT), leadership effectiveness, organisational impact.

Operationalising existing investments

Why is this important?

  • Over recent years, billions of dollars have been spent globally by Enterprise businesses on CRM systems, marketing and sales platforms, and sales methodologies. The impact of such investments (the vendor ‘promise’) is often medium (to long) term: by the time that promised impact is measured, the principle buyer has often changed roles or switched companies.
  • Investment in these areas rarely translates to realized value: not because the product in itself is not capable, but because of a) the initial driving scope or need has changed – future agility/flexibility was not built in to the original specification, b) the new ‘owners’ of the product are not aware of the real capability or what they have and c) too little thought has been given to ongoing user experience and workforce training on how to rinse maximum value out of the product: thus rendering it a bureaucratic requirement and resource drain, rather than a value added tool to help drive productivity.
  • The majority of Enterprise businesses require help to make ‘sense’ of existing investments therefore: they need to close the gap between the ‘promise’ and the ‘reality’ of day to day usage – in short, to enable them to leverage what they have through operationalizing, execution and adoption.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Creating self-service analytics, dashboards and predictive interventions, ‘Data to Insight to Action’, MPA content & distribution, systems integration – (e.g. SFDC, MSFT dynamics), marketing platforms (e.g. Marketo, Eloqua).

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Sales blueprint & sales methodology (creation or execution of existing), sales tools suite, creating rhythm of business.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Coaching: Application and execution of sales methodology and sales processes, turn in to BAU, ‘Embed, Sustain, Activate, Measure (ESAM)’.

Creating differentiated value

Why is this important?

  • Product and service differentiation is essential in today’s financial climate. It allows the enterprise seller to contrast its own product with competing products in the market and emphasize the unique aspects that make its product superior. When utilised successfully, sellers gain a competitive advantage by demonstrating why their products are unique.
  • A company can set itself apart from the competition in two ways: through ‘cost leadership’ or through product differentiation/differentiated value propositions. Cost leadership emphasizes saving money (efficiencies) and appeals to those who are on a budget. Product differentiation focuses on providing quality, enhanced productivity and business performance.
  • A good product differentiation strategy may gain brand loyalty, which is paramount to any successful business. This strategy focuses on a buyer’s perception of value: as long as the seller continues to provide high quality and relevance, the customer base will remain strong.
  • Today’s financial climate contains businesses in an intensely competitive market. In fact, buyer knowledge of available products and services is higher than ever with 70% of information self-discovered by buyers. If a product does not have consistently high quality, customers will turn to competitors. Creating a product that is unique will not be enough to gain the competitive advantage of product differentiation if the buyer does not value what the seller is differentiating on.
  • The seller must have a thorough understanding of the buyer’s expectations and how the product will be used to solve their unique business problem.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Analytics/dashboards to understand current performance by product, predictive sales forecasting & interventions, value & margin contribution, MPA content & distribution, product benefit/customer solution match within MPA.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Competitive analysis, buyer side & influencer mapping, value proposition creation process, 3D Demand Gen model.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Buy-side insight – business drivers and KPI’s, SSIE (Save, Solve, Increase, Emotional Benefit), value/challenger led selling execution.

Negotiation / value selling

Why is this important?

  • We know that B2B buyers are almost 70% of the way to making a buying decision before they even engage with an enterprise vendor’s sales people.
  • This B2B buyer ‘self-discovery and research’ is increasingly seen as limiting the impact a sales person can make on the sales cycle – most critically, limiting their ability to create value and position solutions against key customer problems earlier in that sales cycle.
  • For this reason, many sales people find themselves increasingly battling against cost reduction towards the end of the ‘real’ sales cycle with key buy-side decision makers and procurement. This destroys value creation not only for the seller but also for the buyer in the long term (promoting commoditization versus value creation).
  • Negotiation and value selling skills, to reframe a deal, provide new perspectives for that deal and present ‘opinions’ have, therefore, never been so critical in influencing productivity and business performance. Research shows that 50% of buyers will go with the vendor who brings them the insight/new perspective through a value selling approach.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Sales cycle heat mapping, sales stage analysis, MPA critical sales skills content & distribution.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Sales blueprint, sales stage application (entry & exit points), sales tools suite.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Negotiation skills, ZOPA (Zones of Possible Agreement), value selling skills, value vs. commodity, SSIE, dealing with procurement, value exchange – creating impact earlier in the sales cycle.

Increasing purposeful customer facetime

Why is this important?

  • We know that only 37% of a sales person’s time is spent on actual selling activities. While this is a problem in and of itself, it is crucial therefore that any ‘opportunity time’ with a client or prospective B2B buyer is maximized. Often, a seller’s time is taken up by internal admin or process complexities which has shown can result in 1 in 5 opportunities being lost.
  • Too often, a client meeting (or call) is spent on relationship building at the expense of ‘discovery’: what are the business issues that a client faces, what are there are their business objectives and what are their personal goals? How can this be framed within the SSIE model?
  • For this ‘discovery’ to be purposeful, preparation, research and pre-qualification is a key sales mandate, and is often a fundamental basis upon which a sales person can establish their credibility, capability and compatibility early within the sales cycle.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

MPA critical sales skills, sector insight, product solutions content & distribution.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Call planning, insight and research model, client strategy map, buy side & influencer needs mapping.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Customer insight, customer problem comprehension, client strategy mapping, value selling/challenger led execution, call planning execution, presentation creation & skills.

Time to competency

Why is this important?

  • A competent individual has the skills needed to fulfil their job role and contribute towards the productivity of the organisation. The biggest gap between actual and required skills is at the start of someone’s career. A gap is also found at each change in job role, each promotion and each new business development opportunity.  Every step in the employee’s career requires a change in that person’s skills profile. These skill sets also need to evolve with the business needs.
  • Competence results when an employee can demonstrate evidence that they can apply their knowledge and understanding to the task in hand in a consistent manner. Reducing the time to demonstrate competence can save organisations significant savings. These saving are quantifiable. 
  • Measuring the time to competency is a metric that can be used to demonstrate business performance and ties in nicely to any training required to ensure the competency is reached. It takes on average 12 months to get a seller to competence and as such, savings can be made and revenues realised by reducing this down through structured onboarding.
  • Lack of workforce competence is a huge cost to an organisation, both to budget and reputation. Lack of focus on developing competence can also be a major contributing factor to poor employee motivation, satisfaction and retention. 
  • The earlier a sales person has the requisite sales skills, understanding and ability to apply sales methodology and processes, and comprehension of the benefits of their company’s offer in relation to their customer’s problems, the sooner they can actively sell and the sooner they become a producer rather than an overhead and the more likely they are to stay with the organization.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Sales performance analytics & dashboards for leaders and managers, predictive analytics, YOY/In-year side by sides, MPA critical sales skills, sector insight, product solutions content & distribution, MPA gamification & reporting, LMS linkage.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Pre-boarding & onboarding programmes, systematic account planning.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Coaching critical sales skills, real play skills practice (not practising on the customer), call planning, leadership effectiveness, manager as a coach (vs. directing), negotiation skills.

Reducing lead to cash time

Why is this important?

  • Simply put, reducing lead to cash time is an imperative for most if not all enterprise businesses, and is one of the most important metrics used to assess productivity per capita, function and business performance.
  • Sales productivity can be influenced by three levers which are the volume, value and velocity of the pipeline.
  • By focusing on these, the lead to cash time can be optimized by getting more deals, at a higher value and at a higher velocity through the sales process by combining a coaching culture, world class sales analytics and a value selling approach.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Sales performance analytics & dashboards for leaders and managers, predictive analytics, YOY/In-year side by sides, MPA critical sales skills, sector insight, product solutions content & distribution, MPA gamification & reporting, LMS linkage.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Pre-boarding, onboarding & re-boarding programmes, systematic account planning.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Coaching critical sales skills, call planning, leadership effectiveness, manager as a coach (vs. directing), negotiation skills.

Differential value messaging for buyers and influencers

Why is this important?

  • Product and service differentiation is essential in today’s financial climate. It allows the enterprise seller to contrast its own product with competing products in the market and emphasize the unique aspects that make its product superior. When utilised successfully, sellers gain a competitive advantage by demonstrating why their products are unique.
  • How any company expresses that overarching value proposition is one thing; the real win comes when they are able to tailor that message successfully to the needs of individual buy-side purchasers and influencers.
  • The challenge: while the solution may be common to a prospective company, the packaged message, engagement approach and outcome promise needs to be created in such a way as it meets different stakeholder requirements – based on their personal goals within an organisation and their unique KPI set.
  • How a seller translates and tailors their value proposition depends should be viewed through their personal SSIE lens (how will a solution help them to Save money or effort, solve an issue, Increase productivity or revenue and how will it provide them personal wins/Emotional benefit).

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Analytics/dashboards to understand current performance by product, predictive sales forecasting & interventions, value & margin contribution, MPA content & distribution, product benefit/customer solution match within MPA.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Competitive analysis, buyer side & influencer mapping, value proposition creation process, 3D Demand Gen model.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Buy-side Insight – business drivers and KPI’s, SSIE (Save, Solve, Increase, Emotional Benefit), value/challenger led selling execution.

Pre-boarding and on-boarding

Why is this important?

  • Monster.com reports 30 percent of external new hires turn over within the first two years of employment. Retention statistics from other organizations, including the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), show that turnover can be as much as 50 percent in the first 18 months of employment.
  • Two decades ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US, the average number of jobs held in one person’s career was six.  Today, the average number of jobs held is 11.  Even at the lower end of a pay scale, the cost for replacing an employee is over 40% of their annual salary – the risk of getting pre-boarding and on-boarding wrong is financially punitive and morale eroding.
  • A strong pre-boarding and on-boarding program is a key drive to ‘time to competence’. Competence results when an employee can demonstrate evidence that they can apply their knowledge and understanding to the task in hand in a consistent manner. Reducing the time to demonstrate competence can save organisations significant savings. These saving are quantifiable. 
  • Measuring the time to competency is a metric that can be used to demonstrate business performance and ties in nicely to any training required to ensure the competency is reached. It takes on average 12 months to get a seller to competence and as such, savings can be made and revenues realised by reducing this down through structured onboarding.
  • Lack of workforce competence is a huge cost to an organisation, both to budget and reputation. Lack of focus on developing competence can also be a major contributing factor to poor employee motivation, satisfaction and retention. 
  • The earlier a sales person has the requisite sales skills, understanding and ability to apply sales methodology and processes, and comprehension of the benefits of their company’s offer in relation to their customer’s problems, the sooner they can actively sell and the sooner they become a producer rather than an overhead and the more likely they are to stay with the organization.

How we address this within ‘Tech’:

Sales performance analytics & dashboards for leaders and managers, predictive analytics, YOY/In-year side by sides, MPA critical sales skills, sector insight, product solutions content & distribution, MPA gamification & reporting, LMS linkage.

How we address this within ‘Process’:

Pre-boarding & onboarding programmes, systematic account planning.

How we address this within ‘People’:

Coaching critical sales skills, real play skills practice (not practising on the customer), call planning, leadership effectiveness, manager as a coach (vs. directing), negotiation skills.