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    Ten truths that will increase your sales effectiveness

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    When I founded Membrain, I did so on the belief that existing technology was no longer sufficient to support improved sales effectiveness.

    I didn’t set out to build a piece of software just to build a piece of software that I could later sell. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be part of a bigger movement.

    So instead of starting with the software and working my way down, I started with the principles of sales effectiveness and worked up from there.

    It was effective. Creating a software platform designed to actually serve the customer, the salesperson, and the sales managers worked. Our customers enjoy much higher effectiveness rates against the average.

    Now, as we near our tenth anniversary at Membrain, I want to share with you the ten principles on which we developed our platform. These are also available as a download in my Sales Effectiveness Manifesto.

    1. All selling is not equal
      There’s a common belief that if you know how to sell, you know how to sell. This leads to companies hiring the wrong salespeople - people who thrived in one environment but falter in the new environment. It also leads to sales training that tries to be “one size fits all” and sales processes that are cut-and-paste from a template.

      It also leads to CRM systems that are inflexible and force your process into a series of drop down boxes without providing effective guidance to your team.

      The reality is that complex b2b sales is different from simple b2b; most b2b is different from most b2c; and sales is different from industry to industry, company to company, and team to team. You can’t fit it all into one box, and you shouldn’t.

      Software should support flexible and dynamic sales processes and allow you to build your own way of selling directly into the platform, rather than trying to fit your way of selling into a box.
    2. Selling is not about manipulating, but helping
      When I got started in sales, manipulative sales tactics were extremely common. Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten much better - only faster. Now, instead of manipulative phone calls, salespeople send manipulative spam emails with manipulative subject headings en masse, and engage in manipulative “consultations” that are just sales pitches in disguise.

      And customers are sick of it. They barely open emails anymore, and very often when they buy, they buy despite us, not because of us.

      From the beginning, we operated on the principle that salespeople should be helping buyers understand what they could achieve and help them get there. Not manipulating them into thinking they need what we have to sell.
    3. Sales must be artfully executed
      Salespeople are made, not born. Certainly, some people are born with a unique set of gifts that might lead them down the path to a successful sales career.
      Sales must be artfully executed.
      George Brontén
      But to truly become a rock star, sales skills must be learned and applied, both methodically and artfully. Discipline is key to consistency. Soft skills such as conversation, trust building, and collaboration are critical. And for each company and each environment, a different set of steps, milestones, stages, and processes are necessary.

      All of this is both an art and a science that is not well supported by most CRMs today. Except Membrain, of course :)
    4. Effectiveness starts at the top
      If the executive team hasn’t made sales effectiveness a priority, any improvements within the sales department will be incremental rather than transformative. Minor tactical adjustments are not enough.

      Sales effectiveness is a coordinated effort between sales, marketing, customer success, product development, and operations. This must be championed from the C-suite down.
    5. Sales process and methodology have to work in harmony
      The art and science of sales requires a step by step approach to process that follows the needs of the customer. It also requires a methodology for having the conversations and obtaining the information and permissions necessary to move opportunities through the process.

      These must be coordinated to work in tandem.
    6. Management by results doesn’t work
      Management by results is by definition driving by the rear view mirror. If you’re waiting until you have quarterly sales numbers to show or measuring only by absolute dollars sold, your management is lagging.

      Instead, organizations and managers need to get ahead of the customer, ahead of the process, and be proactive in understanding what customers need and how they want to be communicated with. Sales teams need coaching and management processes and approaches that train skills and abilities before behaviors become a problem.

      And they need software tools that provide forward-looking metrics that enable you to see what’s happening to key metrics in real time, before they become quarterly sales results.
    7. Training is not a one-time event
      Fortunately, the days of a one-day sales training seminar followed by 12 months of nothing seem to be largely over. But sales training still too often takes the form of chunks of stand-alone training that’s disconnected from the reality of the salesperson’s day to day work flow.

      Effective training is ongoing and continually improving. Keyed in to what’s really happening for salespeople, and patterned after an effective process and methodology. The right software makes it possible to deliver training in sections on demand, at the right time, just when salespeople need it.
    8. Coaching is critical
      Along the same lines as the previous two points, you can’t manage an effective sales team without coaching. It’s not enough to look at results and tell salespeople to do better. Rewarding results and punishing poor performance doesn’t cut it.

      You’ve got to be on the floor, coaching salespeople regularly to the process and methodology, as well as mindset and skills. Software should let you see where individual salespeople are tripping up, where their challenges are, and what they need in order to be more effective. Upper leadership should make sure that managers are given adequate time and training to provide effective coaching on an ongoing basis.
    9. CRM should help you sell
      The most popular current CRMs do not actually help you sell. This was the core problem I wanted to address with Membrain. Salesforce was a breakthrough technology in the 1990s and 2000s, providing an online, SaaS option for managing contacts and activities.

      Since then, Salesforce has stacked additional functions, plugins, and technologies on top of the database to try to make it more useful, but instead of helping salespeople, it often just makes it more complex and difficult to navigate.

      Today’s breakthrough technology will be a CRM that actually guides salespeople through the process, provides methodology guidance, gives coaches the insights they need in order to coach effectively, and serves up training and content exactly when salespeople need it.

      In short, it will help salespeople sell, without becoming top heavy or overly complex. It will be beautiful, easy to use, and highly customizable with everything you need built in. Like Membrain.
    10. You must continually improve strategy and process
      In a fast-changing world, your strategy and process cannot stay static. If you’re not changing, you’re dying.

      The right sales software platform will be flexible and customizable to allow you to improve your strategy and process and to execute on improvements immediately. It will also provide you with the metrics and insights and visuals you need in order to know how and where to make improvements.

    Of course, we've built Membrain to be exactly that software. I’d love to show you what it can do. Or, you can start free version right here.

    What do you think? Would you add anything to the manifesto? Change anything? Let me hear from you - or share the manifesto here.

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    George Brontén
    Published June 8, 2022
    By George Brontén

    George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills, and processes. George is also the author of the book Stop Killing Deals and the host of the Stop Killing Deals webinar and podcast series.

    Find out more about George Brontén on LinkedIn