A breakfast with customers or referral partners is always my favorite meal of the day, and one of life's little pleasures is my careful selection of raspberry or strawberry "jelly", or sometimes, just to feed my wild side, a spoonful of marmalade. Simple pleasures for a complex life.
But just last week, while breakfasting with a customer at the Wentworth Hotel in Portsmouth, I was provided only with "fruit spread".
Realizing that a jar with this new term, "fruit spread" also had been hiding in the back of my refrigerator for a couple of months, while I concentrated on the many flavors of Trappist's jam in the front, I knew that it was time to figure out what was what with these casually used terms:
- "Jelly" is a sweet, clear, semisolid, elastic "spread" made from fruit juice and sugar.
- "Jam" is made from whole fruit cut into pieces or crushed, then heated with water and sugar
- "preserves" are made with fruit preserved in sugar, such as jam or marmalade.
- ...and "Fruit Spread"...that's just jam or preserve with no sugar, which is why it tastes so bad...
So then, for the definitive word, I accessed one of my favorite sites, "How Stuff Works", to discover
Who knew ?
Maybe not too many people about jelly, jam and preserves, but think about the lack of clarity in most companies, and then between most management teams and their company's sales reps, about...
- AQL, MQL and SQL, or, more simply, just the word, "lead"
- Sales "Goals", Sales "Plans", Sales "Objectives", "Field Plans" and "Quota"
- "Sales Process", "Process Tools", "Conversion Rates" and "Waterfall Math"
And those are just a few of the terms in the rapidly evolving worlds of the analytical sciences of marketing and sales that, in most companies, are thrown around casually without any clear definitions
To prove the point, if you have the opportunity to sit in on a board meeting, or a senior management meeting, at some time soon, just ask...
"What do you mean by 'a lead'?".
I guarantee that the next 10 minutes will, before someone abruptly calls the meeting back to reality, demonstrate a lack of common language and clarity.
The good news is that in most efficiently operating, sales and marketing teams there are written SLA agreements between Sales and Marketing, and the old school wars and finger pointing have either totally disappeared or, at the very least, been reduced to short border skirmishes. That same clarity does not usually exist however between the sales reps and senior management.
Getting to Common Language in Sales & Marketing is critical !
In our 60 plus hour weeks as new business and account managers on the street and on the phones, the last thing thing that we should be taking time on is definitions. As a sales manager, I already know from our friends at Forrester and Sirius Decisions that a "good performing B2B rep" is utilizing only 35%-40% of their available time actually selling stuff. I simply can't afford a dialogue, or an argument, about whether the lead was qualified or not, or with any other definition that could slow me down. I simply have no time left!
"Selling our Way"
As a very small, but a powerfully efficient tool, in the new world of "Selling the xxx [put in the name of your company] Way", simply declare the definitions, post your SLA everywhere, along with every other Sales and Marketing definition that you are using internally and be done with it. Then get down to the tough work of creating very efficient sales process plans, specific process tools, certified training and formal best practices based on the metrics from your sales processes.
This entire task of definitions should take no more than 60 minutes next week, and then it's over and done with since we're going to need every minute of the rest of March to meet "Quota" , which we have always believed is the definition that, we as sales managers, are held responsible for.
Good Selling ! Hope that February treated you well, and let me or any of the rest of our coaches know if we can help, even if it's a quick confidential sounding board call. If you want to take a deeper dive and improve your sales productivity 20+%, once the quarter ends, sign us up up for a Whiteboarding Session in early April.
"I need to improve the productivity of my salespeople this year"
From our 25 years of experience working to improve sales and marketing productivity, one of the most direct and shorter term approaches we've discovered is to sit down (actually "stand up") for a half or a full day and work through a Whiteboarding Session It's a unique, fast-paced, somewhat exhausting and very energizing way to spend a day, which leaves you with a details blueprint for moving head.
- We proactively together take apart your current sales processes
- We collaboratively tighten up your current sales tools and point out what you're missing
- We create new approaches to your waterfall math, your metrics and how you use your data
- We do a quick assessment in real time on your CMS, CRM and other sales tech tools
- We dissect your "Command of Message", "Value Propositions" and "Checklist" tools
Best of Success in March!