Commercial Lenders and Zebra

Every commercial lender has a vested interest in their B2B customers / borrowers being successful in their businesses. If sales start dropping off, loan repayment may become difficult.

So what can the lender do except follower their lending guidelines and at some point pull the plug?

But we have a solution that is far more effective and much less painful. We introduce to those companies the ZEBEAselling methodology which has proven over nearly 2 decades that it can turn things around or boost existing sales efforts of companies across the industry spectrum.

Let us set up a demo for you or your bank’s commercial loan team and let you decide if we can help your customers. Then, we agree on the best way to do that and we work together to help them and you.

Call to set up your demo!

Want to know more about Zebras?

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C-Level Decision Makers

C-level executiveC-Level Decision Makers. One of the key attributes we assign to a prospect identifies access to the key decision makers in a prospect company. We call this person, or persons, “Power”.

Without their buy in, a sales person will have a tough time closing a sale. And without knowing what their critical business issues (CBIs) are, the sales rep will have a tough time even getting to them to have the discussion necessary to get the buy in.

At Dewell Consulting, we teach the Selling to Zebras methodology which trains sales teams in the various things they need to know and do to get to Power. But times are changing and now those decision makers at the C-level don’t make many large decisions on their own. They want buy in from other key players: COO, CFO, CMO, VP of Sales and others.

So we train the sales rep how to approach these various decision makers or other stakeholders so that all their issues, CBIs, are being addressed to insure their buy in.

But how do you get to those key players when they have multiple plates in the air and have multiple people approaching them with supposed solutions to their problems?

Back on 2013, when Selling to Zebras had been teaching how to do this, another great mind was talking about the same thing. His name is Brian Rapp and he was writing on the http://behaviorchange.net website.

His article entitled “C-Level Decision-Makers: 5 Ways to Reach Them” is still valid today. And I “stole” the image from his post so I want to attribute that at least to his post or to him whichever is appropriate.

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Sales Automation Software for Success

software scoring

The ZEBRASelling methodology software starts with the process of scoring your prospects.When used rigorously, it makes sure you and your sales team are pursuing leads that have a high probability of turning into sales.

What is high probability? 50% -90%…high enough for you?

Remember the industry standard is 15%. What would this do to your company’s growth?

Scoring Software

Our software starts with the salesperson scoring each and every opportunity using our proprietary scoring tool with pre-built Surveys so you ask the right questions upfront to gain access to Power…quickly.

ROI Value Story

Next is the ROI Value Story. Drive key business decisions based on data, not speculation. Close the loop between Sales and Marketing by measuring the impact of your solution. Value drivers are automatically created based on past experience and honed over time based on results.

ROI Waterfall

Following that is the ROI Waterfall. Selling to Zebras automatically generates a powerful waterfall chart for communicating your ROI story, you’ll love it! We calculate everything for you, including NPV, Payback, IRR and monthly cost of indecision so your sales reps have everything they need to close the deal.

Powerful Sales Materials

Cloud-based apps can be up and running in days, and they cost less. With Selling To Zebras, you just open a browser, log in and start using it from anywhere and any device. As a result, you will see shorter sales cycles and higher close rates. In fact, our customers have attained close rates up to 90% using our software.

The software generates Powerful Sales Material so your sales teams spend less time writing and more time closing deals by streamlining the creation of personalized sales documents with our sales proposal generator. Sales reps can easily find the information they need and share it with prospects. So they focus on closing deals, not searching for information.

Rapid RFP responses leveraging Google Docs, Microsoft Office, Office 365, Google Drive, OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.

Smart and Easy

The software tool is easy and smart. Hosted on Amazon AWS Cloud for peace of mind with automated data capture. Just enter a public company’s name and we will search the web for the rest.

Sales teams won’t use something if it’s not easy. Our solutions are designed with the sales experience in mind with bi-directional Salesforce.com integration. Sales rep adoption is key to seeing a return on your investment and increasing win rates.

Insight-to-Action

And finally, Insight-to-Action – you effortlessly measure your Account-Based Marketing success with sales dashboards and embedded business intelligence.

See this process laid out graphically at: ttp://www.sellingtozebras.com/software

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Repeatable Sales Process for Success

Repeatable sales process evolved. Nick Frost from Mattermark (https://mattermark.com/) wrote on an article on their blog and published it on Medium (https://medium.com) addressing the need to change sales processes in order to achieve success. It is a good article which outlines what many sales teams may see as a radical change to their present process. What is exciting for me is that what Nick is presenting is very close to the ZEBRASelling methodology which has been so successful over the years.  You can read his article here (https://mattermarkdaily.com/the-three-main-elements-of-building-a-repeatable-sales-process-49749a600697#.x43iwvw0b) and then below was my comment.

I love to see this kind of evolution in thinking of the sales process. I, too, was a sales person and sales manager who thought that if you throw enough mud against a wall, some of it will stick. Not too successful with that! However, our closing rates of around 15% were no worse than the B2B industry standard today and I was doing these 30 years ago.

What is so interesting to me about this article is that it covers most of the Selling to Zebras methodology that I have written about on this blog           (http://dewellconsulting.com/index.php/whats-zebra/) that has been working well for almost 2 decades now. Nick points out that in the qualifying stage sales people can get off track because by nature they tend to rate their prospects highly even without really qualifying them. They want to keep their prospect list full and their forecast full since they believe activity is the key to success.

Nick also says that the sales teams need to pare their prospect list down by 50% — that will scare the beejeezus out of most sales teams. I actually like to apply the 80/20 principle here and say that only about 20% of the prospect list is ever going to be a customer. But those 20% will generate 80% of their sales quota.

What Nick is calling for, as we do, is to change the culture of the sales organization. We both are saying to the sales team and their managers and to the C-suite, you can do better; you can close more sales with higher pipeline flow through rates and higher sales $ values if you simple change the way you approach the process. Tough to do since change is a 4-letter word to humans in general and sales folks are human after all 🙂

In closing, I recommend that everyone on the sales and marketing teams in companies serious about achieving great success read “The Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson of the Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB). This book will change how you view the sales game completely!

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SaaS and the future of Software

SaaS and the future of Software“. Jos White, the co-founder MessageLabs back in 2000, wrote a piece recently on his website (http://www.joswhite.com) with this title.

It looks at what has happened and is happening in the software industry where virtually everyone now builds cloud-based software applications. This is how puts it:

“The world of enterprise software IS now the world of SaaS. It still might be a smaller market overall but the whole software industry is gravitating in this direction. If you’re not already in it you want to be. If you are starting a new enterprise software company today it is almost inconceivable that it wouldn’t be SaaS.” (http://www.joswhite.com/post/102e0ke/saastr-the-future-of-software)

What I find interesting is the business model these companies, new ones and established ones, use to grow their businesses. I’ve written about this before, The SaaS Industry , and still wonder how long the model can work until there are massive failures when rounds of funding dry up before the companies are profitable?

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Congratulations everyone –another loss this month!

Congratulations on another loss! Can you imagine that from the CEO or CFO at the monthly company meeting?

Well, OK, maybe not really in those words. It’ll be more like, “Congratulations on meeting top line revenue targets again!”

But since the focus in SaaS companies is always on top line growth and never on the growing red numbers at the bottom of the income statement, the headline has some truth in it.

As I have written before, I really question this business model as being sustainable. I know there are some companies that are getting on in years that are still surviving, but they only do that with continuing rounds of funding by VCs and other investors who believe in the top line “uber alles” growth strategy.

In addition is the nagging thought that VCs, who by nature support lots of losers to get a couple of big winners, will only play that game with your company for so long before they decide you are one of the losers.

When you look at income statements for big SaaS companies, you see large numbers under “Operating Expenses > Sales and Marketing”. Here’s an example from a well-known company I’ve been following for a couple of years, Hubspot (HUBS)(https://www.hubspot.com/) in their Sept 2016 10-Q:

 

HUBS loss

 

Sales and marketing accounts for 64.2% of their operating loss, and loss from operations in total accounts for 98.4% of the total loss. But investors look at the gross profit increase from 2015 to 2016 and are happy that it is up 55%. And that even though “Net loss per share, basic and diluted” is shown as ($0.91)!

Later in the 10Q comes this, as a warning?

“We have focused on rapidly growing our business and plan to continue to make investments to help us address some of the challenges facing us to support this growth, such as demand for our platform by existing and new customers, significant competition from other providers of marketing software and related applications and rapid technological change in our industry.

We believe that these investments will result in an increase in our subscription revenue base. This will result in revenue increasing faster than the increase in sales and marketing, research and development and general and administrative expenses, exclusive of stock-based compensation, as we reach economies of scale. With this increased operating leverage, we expect our gross and operating margins to increase in the long term. However, we will incur losses in the short term. If we are unable to achieve our revenue growth objectives, including a high rate of renewals of our customer agreements, we may not be able to achieve profitability.” (Emphasis  mine)
This is, however, a typical financial report from companies in this space. So far, I’ve only run across one such company that is shifting its focus to profitability and that is Cornerstone on Demand (CSOD). In his Q4 2016 earnings call transcript on Seeking Alpha (http://seekingalpha.com/article/4045582-cornerstone-ondemand-csod-q4-2016-results-earnings-call-transcript), CEO Adam Miller said this” I’m also very pleased to report that 2016 marked our first year of profitability…”

Hats off to Mr. Miller!

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The SaaS Industry

SaaSI have been following the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry for a number of years and in spite of the fact that most of them lose huge amounts of money every year, the industry is growing rapidly.

They survive on repeated rounds of funding from investors and VCs who seem to think that the only metrics that really count are the following, at least when you are looking at scaling the business:

MRR – monthly recurring revenue. It is the base measure of scale. It is a simple multiple of the number of subscribers times their subscriptions. You increase it by growing the numbers of customers. Or up-selling existing customers to higher value packages. MRR is the lead indicator which shows the growth of your SaaS business.

Churn – this is a measure of how many customers are coming in, but more importantly, going out. The reasons for churn are not always obvious. Your SaaS may work like a dream. But does it add enough value? Is it worth paying for? More important, do your customers find it is worth the time and effort to have your SaaS as part of their lives?

Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) – In SaaS, CAC is a measure of the efficiency of your sales, marketing and distribution model. It is governed by two things: Conversion and Sales Model.

Cornerstone on Demand (CSOD) finally gets it!

Notice nowhere is there a mention of profitability. Top line revenue trumps net income every time in this industry. The only exception I’ve found in the last 2 years is Cornerstone on Demand (https://www.cornerstoneondemand.com/). They have now, after 19 years of existence, begun to think that profitability is a metric that they need to be looking at. Congratulations, Adam Miller, CEO!

I’ll be doing more posts on the SaaS industry as time goes on.

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Sex and the 80/20 Principle

 

80/20 principle
In Richard Koch’s fabulous The 80/20 Principle, 2008 Edition, he delves into the new territory of applying the principle to our personal lives, not just our businesses.

This opens up some interesting discussions about quantifying that area of our lives that seems immune to analysis by numbers. But as Richard explains, every one of us derives more pleasure from some activities than we do from others. Like quiet evenings with a loved one in front of a fire; a really good meal with close friends; a solitary walk in nature.

If we look at them honestly, we will see the opposite is also true: we spend a lot of time doing things we feel we must do, but don’t really enjoy. Think about family get togethers where there is constant bickering, but missing one would hurt everyone’s feelings. Or faking it in a relationship to preserve your public image.

In the section of the book,” Fresh Insights: The Principle Revisited”, Richard shares some of the input he has received from readers and one was quite revealing in that, to me at least, the reader had missed the point. A Chinese critic contended that yin and yang are equally important and seems to equate yang with the 20% and yin with the 80%.

His final complaint had to do with sex. Since he contends that 80% of the pleasure in sex comes the orgasm, then he says perhaps we should drop the 80% foreplay altogether. Of course, if the only pleasure you derive from the sexual relationship is the 13-second orgasm, the he’s right. But the 80/20 principle is incorrectly applied when done so to micro-aspects of life. In the above situation, I would argue that the application should be as follows. Look back at all your sexual encounters and find out which 20% brought you the most pleasure and work on duplicating those. Doing that we are measuring the whole experience not just one tiny aspect.

In that case, Richard’s Chinese critic might find that the 20% most pleasurable experiences were the ones in which the foreplay was long and caring and the final 13 seconds were just one aspect of the whole experience. Yin and yang would then be in balance which is what the 80/20 principle would predict would be the case.

(Originally published on

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Thinking about Big Data

Data, no matter if it is called big data, gives the user information on inputs and outputs, causes and results, efforts and rewards. From that we can analyze the numbers with the intent of drawing useful conclusions and implementing actions. So far, so good.

Uncovering Secrets in the Data

As I reacquaint myself with the 80/20 Principle, I am digging deep into the work that Richard Koch did on the subject and he addresses the data issue this way: typically, the majority of the inputs, causes and efforts have little impact, but a small minority have a major dominant impact.

Where I think the difficulty with the huge amounts of data now being made available is the ability of the users to find that small minority. The more data found the more the imbalance that will always appear. The Principle provides a framework for the analysis, but even that has its limits, especially as you mention in the final paragraph – taking a leap and taking risks. Continue reading “Thinking about Big Data”

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What is “Buying in the New Normal?”

Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of GE, coined the term “the new normal” to describe the current sales environment. He says, in the “new normal,” traditional complex sales approaches no longer work; sales levels, margins and average deals sizes are down and sales cycles are longer with many ending in non-decision. Prospects are spending less and even consolidating and in some cases eliminating suppliers in an effort to save money. Selling in the new normal doesn’t work the way it did in the “old normal”.

So to differentiate, I’m going to coin the phrase “Buying in the New Normal” to describe a 180 degree shift in the way we look at the interaction between a product or service vendor and the ultimate user. In the old terminology they were the seller and buyer and sales teams always thought in terms of selling to a customer.

Buying in the New Normal

But the new normal has to rethink itself. The focus has to be on the process of buying. The seller has to see only the process of buying by his customer. To do that, he has to know why the customer buys, what they need, what they want to do with the product and what their motivation is to make the buy.

When they do that they come to understand the real issues that drive their customer’s buying decision. They’ll discover the critical business issues (CBI) that have to be satisfied by the seller and their product or service. The most important CBIs will be found at the C-level (what we call “Power”) and not below. This is where they will uncover the executive-level problems felt at their prospect’s organization and determine how their product or service addresses them.

Most companies sell products and services based on the day-to-day problems that they solve and their features and benefits. But this is a mistake. The people with budget authority in your prospects’ organizations don’t evaluate products and services based on day-to-day functionality. They make buying decisions based upon executive-level problems that are solved. This is especially true for high-value products and services with complex sales processes.  C-level executives “buy”, they don’t get “sold” to. Continue reading “What is “Buying in the New Normal?””

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