Welcome to Episode 13 of the Sales Influencer Series, where we interview leaders on the cutting edge of sales and marketing. Today's episode features Tamara Schenk, Research Director for CSO Insights, a B2B sales research firm committed to providing the best research, data and expertise on sales performance and productivity in B2B sales that sales leaders respect and trust globally.
Tamara has a tremendous background that includes over a decade of business tech consulting experience and 2+ years as the VP of Sales Enablement at T-Systems, a Deutsche Telekom company just as T-Mobile.
Tamara's incredible personal blog on sales technology, Sales Enablement Perspectives, is one of the best in the business. And she joins us today to discuss technology and offer a compelling paradigm for optimizing your sales organization's structure, processes and talent management.
Ep 13: Mechanics and Dynamics of B2B Sales
1. Explain your professional background and new role with CSO Insights.
I have more than twenty years of professional experience in many different sales, consultant, business development and yes, sales enablement roles. In my previous role, before I became an analyst, I had the pleasure to evolve sales enablement from a program to a function to a global function on a VP level.
In January 2014, I joined the Miller Heiman Research Institute, which became the MHI Research Institute and now, after an acquisition, CSO Insights, a division of MHI Global. My role is the role of a research director. That means I’m creating research (studies, frameworks, models, content creation), work with advisory clients and speak about it at conferences.
2. The focus of this interview goes to 2 exceptional posts you just wrote, covering the Mechanics and Dynamics of B2B sales. Can you explain the overarching premise behind these articles and why this topic is so critical to B2B sales in 2015?
The term “manage mechanics, navigate dynamics” was born in a meeting with my colleagues earlier this year, discussing the buyers’ decision dynamics. I said, well there is more than only decision dynamics, there are change dynamics and value dynamics as well. And by the way, what is it we can really manage directly? Not so much… if we are honest with ourselves. We joked about it and tried to say that five times in a row “manage mechanics, navigate dynamics” Try it. Even native speakers experienced some challenges ;-)
The background of this idea is that I wanted to shed light on the fact that the most important decision every sales force depends on is the customers’ buying decision. And that’s something we cannot manage directly.
We influence this decision with all our strategies, activities and behaviors as best as we can, and, of course, we measure the results. But to get to a buying decision we need more than sales mechanics, we have to navigate lots of dynamics.
Listen to today’s discussions, we manage leads, we manage opportunities, we manage relationships, we manage funnels, performance, etc. But what’s really relevant what makes the difference is to create value for buyers at each stage of their journey. And that’s a lot about navigating different dynamics….
3. Before we dive deeper into mechanics and dynamics -- everything you cover ties into understanding the buyer’s journey. Explain that concept and why it’s so foundational to creating a robust organizational structure and scalable sales process for B2B sales teams.
Derived from this fact that the most important decision we depend on is the buying decision, the most important decision we can make as sales leaders, is to decide how we want to connect and engage with prospects and customers. Following this customer-core approach, we should make the customer’s journey the main design point of our sales system. Such a sales system consists of the foundation a sales operations function should establish, regarding methodologies, processes and technology, and coverage model. The customer core idea has to be integrated with the processes, ideally fully aligned to the customer’s journey.
Then, sales enablement can derive their framework as well, defining the exact scope, and then designing content, training and coaching services for each stage of the customer’s journey, for relevant buyer roles, business challenges, and if necessary in the right vertical language, powered by appropriate state-of-the-art technology.
The challenge for most enablement teams is to come up with real customer-core enablement services. As we have seen in our first 2015 CSO Insights Sales Enablement Study, this is the core challenge we see and the biggest potential for organizations to create significant business impact. Follow our blog when the study will be launched.
4. Let’s talk about optimizing the mechanics of B2B sales. What are some ways for sales leaders to empower their sales team to more effectively manage mechanics?
Imagine the mechanical steps you take to create a new account or a new opportunity in your CRM system. Mechanics describe precisely in which way something has to be done. Mechanics have a lot to do with “if/then” clauses. In this example, you need the account data before you can create your opportunity. Mechanics are pretty predictable. If all the required data are entered, a new account or a new opportunity will be created.
Mechanics are the basics we have to be in place. From a sales professional’s perspective, mechanics are the skills and competencies they need to sell, the various knowledge areas they have to cover, and that’s much more than product knowledge. It’s market, industry, customer and competitor knowledge and internal knowledge (where are the SMEs in each area?). Then, it’s about methods, processes and strategies and a specific area of expertise.
From a sales system’s perspective, it’s important to mirror the customer’s journey that means to accept that buying happens in iterations. So, a sales process should allow these iterations, just as an example.
5. Unlike mechanics, dynamics are much more fluid and beyond the control of sales reps. Can you give us some examples of the key dynamics B2B sales reps often face and how to better prepare them to tackle each one as they emerge?
Dynamics instead represent probability, possibility, and uncertainty in often complex environments. Imagine your recent conversations with different B2B buying teams. Were these situations predictable?
You have probably developed a few scenarios to get prepared for the conversations. But at the end, a slightly different scenario may have happened. Dynamics are not really predictable. Examples are the various dynamics that change throughout the customer’s journey: Change dynamics in the awareness phase, Decision dynamics in the buying phase. Value dynamics in the implementation and adoption phase.
6. You could say the level to which each sales rep masters the dynamics of their sales outreach will determine their long-term success. What types of mindsets and principles should sales leaders seek to instill in their sales team culture to better their team’s chances of success?
Principles are exactly the right keyword. We need more principles and fewer rules, to be able to navigate all those dynamics successfully.
Then, it’s about developing salespeople’s adaptive competencies. That means the ability to shift strategies, activities, behaviors, messages in new, changed or complex situations. Fast and effective. Adaptive competencies include situational awareness, principles instead of rules, creativity and critical and strategic thinking.
7. Before we let you go, you’ve got some excellent content forthcoming with CSO Insights. Can you point us in the direction of where to find that?
Yes, please visit us at www.csoinsights.com. Our blog has 2-3 blog posts every week, different authors, different topics. Then, check out our research services, and, last but not least, please take our survey for the 2016 CSO Insights Sales Best Practices Study. It’s the world’s largest survey in complex b2b selling and sales management behaviors.
The Sales Influencer Series Library
To check out further episodes and see why CloserIQ has ranked the Sales Influencer Series as one of the very best sales podcasts of 2016, just click on the links below.
Episode 1. John Barrows
Episode 2. Lori Richardson
Episode 3. Max Altschuler
Episode 4. Matt Heinz
Episode 5. Mark Leslie
Episode 6. Kyle Porter
Episode 7. Jon Bradford
Episode 8. Eks Anderson
Episode 9. Matt Hottle
Episode 10. Heather Morgan
Episode 11. Ilan Ferdman
Episode 12. Ryan Jenkins
Episode 13. Tamara Schenk
Episode 14. Mike Weinberg
Episode 15. Scott Britton
Episode 16. Mark Kosoglow
Episode 17. Dionne Mischler
Episode 18. Ken Barton
Episode 19. Kevin Karner
Episode 20. Jill Rowley
Episode 21. Brandon Redlinger
Episode 22. Will Wickey
Episode 23. Drew Woodcock
Episode 24. Dail Wilson
Episode 25. Nathan Sexton
Episode 26. Tucker Max
Episode 27. Bruce Tulgan
Episode 28. Dallas Hogensen
Episode 29. Morgan J. Ingram