Strategic sales enablement to drive productivity and sales force transformation - Customer Core
Frankfurt Am Main, Germany
Posizione attuale: Research Director CSO Insights, A Division of MHI Global
Edizioni: #BSBA2013 #BSBA2014 #BSBA2015 #BSBA2016
Partecipa nel 2014 per Best Sales Blogger
1° classificato categoria Best Sales Blogger edizione #BSBA2015
1° classificato categoria Best Sales Blogger edizione #BSBA2016
I am a creative, innovative, passionate and forward-thinking Executive who pioneered the GoToCustomer selling system—an initiative that drove transformation to sales organizations while increasing profitability and growth. My ability to design successful sales enablement initiatives with thoughtful, but simple, and clearly defined strategies is coupled with a passion for delivering “what’s next” and improving “what’s now”. I am an effective communicator who bridges the gap between business strategy and sales execution with ability to engage sales teams and execute transformation. As a global leader, I have more than 20 years of consistent career advancement and accomplishment—I thrive on challenge and am known as an innovator, change driver, and IT Sales Enablement evangelist.
10 Questions to a Winner!
Second appointment to learn more about the Winners of the third edition of the Best Sales Blogger Awards #BSBA with a series of interviews that will allow us to establish contact with authors that we hope will continue over time. Our guest today is Tamara Schenk.
BSBA : Please introduce yourself, your business, your goals in 2015 and what you'd like to share with our audience in Italy.
TS : My name is Tamara Schenk. I’m a Research Director for the MHI Research Institute. I’m living in Wiesbaden, Germany, with my husband and two rescued cats.
My 2015 goals are to grow and to deepen my research on sales enablement, frontline sales managers and sales leadership. Then, an essential goal is always to create value in every client interaction, to inspire people’s thinking in my presentations and speeches.
In case you want to learn more about me, have a look:
BSBA : There is a huge variety of content available on sales methods and techniques, and there are thousands of bloggers, articles, books and consulting firms. Unavoidably, there are different and even opposite theories about sales. What's your advice for salespeople who are looking for ways to improve their performance? How can they find their way through all this information?
TS : First, your sales methodology has to be the right methodology for your business (transactional, complex sales). Once you have an appropriate methodology, it’s about practicing. Excellence only happens when you are practicing consistently. Then, you may reach a point where you are no longer repeating what you learned, but where you understand the underlying principles and take them to the next level—your level.
Second, read many different sources and question everything you read, and everything you learn along the way. This is important to remember when people offer you five steps to happiness and another ten to sales success. Silver bullets simply do not exist. There are no shortcuts to success. Success in sales is about practicing the right things until you excel at them, always working backwards from the customer’s context, understanding their specific decision dynamic, and then mapping this situational customer knowledge to your own capabilities. Then, you can come up with a tailored approach to help them to achieve their desired outcomes.
BSBA: What is the best advice you can give to a young person who wants to start a career as a sales professional?
TS: Be brave and get started! Contribute with your perspective to transform this profession from pushing products to enabling buyers. Select the culture of the sales organization you are going to join carefully. Look for a customer-centered, collaborative environment that’s focused on sustainable value creation for their customers. Make sure the sales culture matches your values and beliefs. See every day as a learning opportunity and you will grow.
BSBA: And for "experts,” what is the skill or attitude that you have seen too much neglected by the salespeople you have met in your career ?
TS: The human aspect of selling, including the buyer’s perspective and the myth that decisions are made on a rational basis. It happens especially in male-dominated organizations. Technology has grown tremendously over the last couple of years, but not the human part of selling (= value creation). A sales process can be automated, but selling cannot be automated. And you will never automate your customers. Trust, reliability and recurring quality are highly relevant to success in sales.
BSBA: We often speak about improving and enriching salespeople’s qualifications. At the same time, there are some habits that are counterproductive and should be discouraged. What are some habits or attitudes of the past that, as time went by, you removed from your techniques or changed your ideas on?
TS: The myth that decisions are made on a rational basis!
BSBA: In the last 80 years, billions of words have been written about how to sell. Some people talk about an “old school” and a “new school.” And not all ideas are in agreement.In your opinion, is the evolution of selling techniques influenced by new ideas and thoughts, or is there just an adaptation to the new tools we have (such as communication, web, CRM), the new market and products/services? Or, last, the change in buyer behavior (awareness, advanced purchasing process)?
TS: Sales has changed a lot since the rise of the Internet. The information asymmetry no longer exists. The world changed from a seller to a buyer market. And yes, buyer behaviors changed. They don’t buy products anymore; they are looking for business results. Since then, it’s all about an evolution, because old channels are not gone, but new technology and social media have to be integrated. Salespeople now have more to balance, and must tailor their approach to how their customers want to interact with them.
BSBA: Social networks are opening new frontiers in business relationships, but both top sales managers and top salespeople seem to be wary of their use. What will lead us to sales 3.0? Will it be the market, technology, or something else?
TS: We are currently experiencing a huge shift. Participating actively in social networks is just one element. What it means is that there are no longer barriers around organizations. Hierarchies within organizations will change and become more network-oriented, flat and agile. People will increasingly work with their individual networks that are much bigger than the organizations they are working for. Pressures from markets, technology, economy, customers and employees and the society will force organizations to change much quicker than they currently do. People who worked for decades in hierarchies and were used to hoarding instead of sharing have a challenging time adapting. But it will happen, sooner rather than later. Look at organizations in the creative and Internet economies. Their CEOs are online and their top salespeople are very successful integrating social media in their work. Our data speaks clearly about the selling impact.
BSBA: What are the best sales practices in your experience?
TS: Working backwards from the customers, and practice.
Without practicing, learning and coaching – no excellence!
BSBA: Which is the best technique for creating customer loyalty that you know?
TS: No specific technique. It’s more the understanding that customer satisfaction and customer loyalty are two different things. Even customers that are highly satisfied are not necessarily very loyal. In a world of subscriptions and SaaS, changing a provider is easy.
BSBA: Which is the best book about sales that you have read?
TS: There are many outstanding books. Every single one addresses a specific issue from a specific perspective. I’d rather recommend a book about thinking that really inspired me:
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird.
What we really miss in sales in addition to question 3 is critical and strategic thinking. This book helps in a very practical way.
BSBA: What are the best ways to use network technologies today for salespeople?
TS: Be on LinkedIn, have a profile that attracts your potential customers rather than recruiters, build your network with individualized messages, and begin to share content that’s relevant to your targeted customers. Follow up with a platform that integrates different social networks on one dashboard, that enables you to organize your entire activity and follow-up management on one screen, ideally integrated in your social CRM.
BSBA: Thank you for your collaboration. We invite to join our group Linkedin Il Commerciale – The Salesman in which we suggest you post your articles.