Friday, March 27, 2015

Saleforce Essentials for Sales Excellence Recap

Salesforce Essentials for Sales Excellence opened with a video testimonial of Philly 311 that hit its mark with the hometown crowd. Although Philly 311 is a contact center built on Service Cloud, it is a great example of how to connect with customers and deliver success.

Evans Kileen, Salesforce Area VP helped attendees identify three obstacles that cause missed sales targets – not enough pipeline, not enough time selling, and underperforming reps. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome each obstacle in order to grow sales faster.

For the first area, not enough pipeline, understanding the buying cycle is key. Over 57% of the buying cycle is complete before a sales person is contacted. The old adage about getting the right message to the right person at the right time is more important than ever. By implementing marketing automation and sales tools together, generate more leads along with actionable insight on prospect’s interests and intents. Pardot along with Sales Cloud enables a united buyer journey from lead generation through sales call and signature.

On the next topic, not enough time selling, we all are familiar with the pain points that Sales Cloud solves – mobile access, chatter for collaboration, automated workflows and approvals, etc.. While it may be surprising to learn that the typical business-to-business sales rep spends 21% of their time conducting research and $700 billion of revenue is lost due to bad data, there is a solution. provides company information from D&B along with millions of crowd-source contacts. Your own Sales Cloud data can be cleaned and augmented with a single click as well as subscribed to ongoing updates.

On the final obstacle of underperforming reps, coaching is the key. Although often used interchangeably, coaching is not the same as training. Training is focused on structured learning of new skills to do a specific task, typically in a group setting. Conversely, coaching is used to improve performance and behaviors through reflection and critical thinking in a one-on-one session. To provide better coaching tools, team alignment and additional motivation, many companies have turned to Through the use of and a commitment to clear V2MOM (Vision, Values, Methods, Obstacles, and Measures), Salesforce has cut the time it takes to get a new rep up to speed from almost a year down to 6 months.

For the session keynote, Scott Collins, Principal Executive Advisor at CEB shared new methods to guide diverse stakeholders through the purchase process. In the past, products and services were sold as standalone transactions. Today the focus is on solution selling, which is a more complex sale. With more complexity, more individuals are involved in the buying decision – 5.4 on average (although I have yet to meet .4 of a person).

These 5.4 buyers are also more diverse than ever, representing disparate roles, teams, and locations. All of these members to say yes to close the deal. With a large group, there is often few common goals, priorities and beliefs. Typically, the core areas of overlap are on low price/saving money, doing nothing, or picking the least disruptive/risky option. All areas that we do not want to compete on when selling solutions.

So what can we do to increase the chances of success? As the intersection between individuals is small, we need to increase the overlap through collective learning. Have the buyers argue and debate around the problem definition and solution identification. Team members need to come to a consensus with a shared understanding of each other’s perspectives in order to move forward.

How can we help drive consensus among the stakeholders? By deploying three traits of successful sales people – teaching, tailoring and taking control. Prospects are always intrigued by learning something new that can save money or increase revenue. High performing sales reps put the customer teaching up front and tailor the message to the audience. Finally, taking control is not about being aggressive in the sales process, rather pushing back when necessary and guiding the sales process.

Finally, looking for allies among the stakeholder groups is a key to success. Typically, there are seven categories of behavior encountered in the sales process. Only three of the following will help drive collective learning. See if you can figure out which ones.

  1. Go Getter – delivers results and gets it done
  2. Skeptic – concerned about the details, often focused on the implementation
  3. Friend – always takes calls and meetings
  4. Teacher – loves spreading new ideas
  5. Guide – helps you find your way through the organization and provides insight
  6. Climbers – looking to move ahead
  7. Blocker – the anti-stakeholder

High performing sales reps sell to mobilizers – the Go Getter, the Teacher and the Skeptic, as they attach to ideas and move forward. Go find your mobilizers and see what happens.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Salesforce Essentials for Service Recap

It was exciting to connect with customers and learn how they provide top-notch service at the Salesforce Essentials for Service Excellence event in New York City.

The event opened with Michael Nash from Salesforce sharing that service has become a key differentiator in purchase decisions, often exceeding price and features in purchase decisions. Our customers’ expectations are for personalized, smarter and faster customer service experience. Smart companies are building service directly into their products to differentiate their brands from others.

Compare the response of Tesla Motor, which broadcasted a software change to increase the ride height of their vehicles after several vehicle fires after drivers hit road debris, to your last recall experience. Other manufactures send out a notification letter, require a dealer appointment, then you have to take your car in and wait or catch another ride to work and back. When all is said and done, there is a lot of hassle to fix a problem that the manufacturer caused.

Knowing the different experiences between Tesla and other manufacturers, why should we care about meeting customer service expectations? It all comes down to customer loyalty, which drives repurchase, increase spend and positive word of mouth. Lara Ponomareff shared insights on where loyalty comes from, using The Effortless Experience as a reference.

Intuition says that delighting customers by exceeding service expectation should be a great way to garner loyalty. However, a CEB study of over 125,000 customers and 100 organizations points to a different result. Rather than dramatically increasing loyalty, exceeding expectations produced only a marginal increase in loyalty. Pause for a moment and let that sink in. If delighting customers doesn’t make them loyal, what can we do?

There is an unseen benefit in these findings. We are not good at exceeding expectations, as customers report delightful experiences occur only 16% of the time. In addition, going beyond expectations typically increases costs by 10-20%. From my experience, the expectations that you exceed today have a way of becoming the basic expectation of tomorrow.

Rather than focus on increasing loyalty, let us look at the opposite – decreasing disloyalty. As customers seeking service are already in a negative state, i.e. something is broken and they want it fixed quickly, there is four times greater chance of increasing disloyalty than increasing loyalty through service.

Think about your own customer service experiences. What are the items that make you upset? For me having to repeat information, especially after I have already entered it and the general hassle factor are tops on my list. Others have cited the need to switch between channels (online, chat, phone), transferring between agents, scripted or robotic service and the ever-popular hiding beyond policies and procedures. Put together, it all equals additional effort on your customers.

Will investing in an effortless experience provide payback in customer loyalty? Laura cited that 96% of customers that experience high effort are more disloyal, but only 9% that have a low effort experience. The even better news is only a third of perceived effort is what a customer must do to get support. The rest of their perceived effort drives from how they feel about the experience, which includes what the customer service representative said and how they said it. This provides an opportunity to improve service by looking at support through a customer effort lens.

First, guiding customers to the right support channel and more choices is not always better. For example, we know there are certain types of cases that should not be addressed via live chat. If we are not guiding customers to avoid live chat for these issues, we just caused a channel switch and increased frustration.

Next, once we have driven customers to the right channels, including self-service, our customer support representatives are going to get the more complex issues that are not black and white. Give the front line control to do what is right and exercise judgment. They should focus on a customer’s support experience and how he or she presents information to the customer. The goal is to be a trusted guide to resolution of the issue. This will require taking a hard look at the people, processes and management in place and the ability to think differently.

Now, if you are not ready to take a leap and embrace an effortless experience, start by seeing how your customers feel about their effort involved in customer service. Survey customers with a simple question such as “Did we make it easy to handle your issue?” with a range of responses from strongly disagree, disagree, disagree somewhat, neither disagree nor agree, agree somewhat, agree and strongly agree. I would love to know what you find, but be warned – the results may surprise you.