Entrepreneurial Sales and #Innovation – #Fintech #salespeople #sales #entrepreneurship

Thanks blog and social media community for encouraging me to continue to write about entrepreneurship and sales. This all started with teaching a class at UNC – Charlotte. Over the course of time I have realized that being an entrepreneur and being a salesperson have a lot in common. So much so that it pays to study the other if you are on the other side. Meaning if you are a sales person – studying successful (and unsuccessful – sometimes I get more from them) entrepreneurs will enable you to be a better creator which ultimately ends bigger and better deals. Conversely, if you are an entrepreneur, becoming a better salesperson will help your family, employees and your business.

Innovation

Here is today’s topic, innovation. I just recently lectured on the topic and found myself frustrated with driving home how important innovation is as an entrepreneur. Frustrated because I noticed that my students wanted to be safe in their business decisions. “There is a big difference in being bold and being conservative” I told them to relatively blank looks. Continuing I said, “People perceive entrepreneurs as risk takers, but they are not”. Now blank has turned to shocked. Not helping my case I said, “There are a lot of plumbers out there and it’s ok if you want to be another plumber, the world can use more good ones, but if you really want to a change or impact you have to be innovative”. Still not satisfied with my response, I felt like I needed a more material or concrete example – Creative Destruction.

Creative Destruction

I found this on the Google (and yes… I call it “The Google”)

2

Creative destruction is the visible – tangible thing that tells a person they or their business is being innovative. Originally developed by Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian born economist that taught at Harvard in the mid-1900, creative destruction having it roots in industrial revelations was a concept that helped inventors and growth minded capitalist achieve. I told my class that if you are really innovating there will be a path of destruction in their wake. Now their faces are from blank to shock to “I don’t want to do that”. However I said, “the great thing about creative destruction is, although initially the response in negative the people who are displaced by innovation get better – higher paying jobs”. That is why the concept is so powerful.

Sales?

Ok, what this means to sales is very important and it is one of the reasons why I tagged my site to “smooth seas don’t make good sailors – just like easy deals don’t make good salespeople”.

As a salesperson, helping a client is at your core, however when push comes to pushing more salespeople don’t want to come across as old school, Glengarry Glen Ross  buy or die. I don’t want you to be that either, however it is important that you keep going. Keep going because no one or no company has ever achieved anything important without pain. With the evolution of Fintech and especially in my world of AP and payment automation I hope you can imagine how painful it is to sit across from an accounting or finance person and say, “you know everything you have known your entire business career (shaking my head a little)?” when they say with trepidation, “yea…”. I say, “Forget that and do this”. Now I don’t say it like that, but that is what they hear. I tell them that there will be no need to type payable information into the accounting system, or file or put checks into envelops, their natural reaction are for jobs of the people who are doing the work. To do this it takes, skill in your message at the right time for the right reasons, but whatever you do don’t shy away from difficult opportunities and never give up!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

Accidental – Marginal Success – Want Some? #Fintech #Sales #Selling #Success

Now that the Super Bowl is over and I am trying to cope with my sport’s depression (I am a Panthers fan) I had a thought walking through the airport. Recently I became re-engaged with the idea of being intentional about my success. I had never left goal setting and planning, but for some reason I had achieved a level of success and was happy with it. Not now, I really feel alive when I am working on something big so I did the unthinkable, bought a paper note-book (that’s the unthinkable – because I am paperless) and started planning for something big.

Super Bowl

Part of sports depression is to not talk about the game and pretend it didn’t happen, however it is perfectly acceptable to talk about the commercial. This morning grading papers for my UNCC class, one of my students used “puppy-monkey-baby” in his paper… if I could – I would have given him extra credit. Ok back to success. Years ago there was a super bowl ad that Monster.com did where the theme was, “When I Grow Up”.. here it is if you don’t remember it.

Middle Management

One of the lines that struck me then and still gets me is the kids that says, “I want to claw my way up to middle management”. Now I know some great middle managers, but it’s funny because kids typically don’t aspire to be middle management. They want to be sports starts or entertainers or as my seven-year-old says, “a singer-teacher-mom with ponies”. What happen to our dreams in life? Where did they go and why do people settle?

Accidental

People leave their future up to chance. Have you ever heard the saying, “people spend more time on planning the wedding than the marriage”? I think people spend more time on planning their weddings than they do their entire lives. The problem with accidental success is you run the high risk of two things

  1. You don’t get want you want and you are stuck somewhere you don’t want to be
  2. It’s usually marginal

Marginal

I had a mentor say that there is nothing worse than a person going to their grave with their music still in them. That always struck me because for some reason I could picture that in my mind. To be marginal is to achieve a little and stop. In my first book The 8 Pitfalls, I wrote about projects and I made the point that you know when projects are good and you know when projects are bad but the difficult part is when projects are somewhere in the middle and folks settle. That’s the same way with life. You know when your life is both good and bad and usually you do something about it. The problem comes when your life is OK because failure is breathing down your neck and success seems like a lot of work.

Don’t!

Don’t settle and don’t leave it to chance. Start today with a few simple steps.

  1. Commit to change – really commit, don’t just give it lip services.
  2. Outline what it is you want to be – this will take time. I am taking all of 2016 to do this step
  3. Set goals – once outlined start breaking things down into smaller parts and start putting actions steps to them and dates on when they will be achieved.

Success

I had another mentor ask me about twenty years ago what my definition of success was. I was unable to tell him. He said that if you don’t know what something is than you will never be able to obtain it. He then told me what his definition was and I started on a process to create my own definition. Over time I realized that I really liked his definition so with permission I adopted it.

The continuous journey towards the achievement of a predetermined worthwhile goal”

What I love about this definition is that it’s the journey that is what is so exciting… It’s the journey that gets you up in the morning… it’s the journey that keeps you motivated and positive not the achievement. Don’t sign up for accidental, marginal success, join me for an intentional exciting life!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that startedAvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information.

Entrepreneurial Sales and #Innovation – #Fintech #salespeople #sales #entrepreneurship

Thanks blog and social media community for encouraging me to continue to write about entrepreneurship and sales. This all started with teaching a class at UNC – Charlotte. Over the course of time I have realized that being an entrepreneur and being a salesperson have a lot in common. So much so that it pays to study the other if you are on the other side. Meaning if you are a sales person – studying successful (and unsuccessful – sometimes I get more from them) entrepreneurs will enable you to be a better creator which ultimately ends bigger and better deals. Conversely, if you are an entrepreneur, becoming a better salesperson will help your family, employees and your business.

Innovation

Here is today’s topic, innovation. I just recently lectured on the topic and found myself frustrated with driving home how important innovation is as an entrepreneur. Frustrated because I noticed that my students wanted to be safe in their business decisions. “There is a big difference in being bold and being conservative” I told them to relatively blank looks. Continuing I said, “People perceive entrepreneurs as risk takers, but they are not”. Now blank has turned to shocked. Not helping my case I said, “There are a lot of plumbers out there and it’s ok if you want to be another plumber, the world can use more good ones, but if you really want to a change or impact you have to be innovative”. Still not satisfied with my response, I felt like I needed a more material or concrete example – Creative Destruction.

Creative Destruction

I found this on the Google (and yes… I call it “The Google”)

2

Creative destruction is the visible – tangible thing that tells a person they or their business is being innovative. Originally developed by Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian born economist that taught at Harvard in the mid-1900, creative destruction having it roots in industrial revelations was a concept that helped inventors and growth minded capitalist achieve. I told my class that if you are really innovating there will be a path of destruction in their wake. Now their faces are from blank to shock to “I don’t want to do that”. However I said, “the great thing about creative destruction is, although initially the response in negative the people who are displaced by innovation get better – higher paying jobs”. That is why the concept is so powerful.

Sales?

Ok, what this means to sales is very important and it is one of the reasons why I tagged my site to “smooth seas don’t make good sailors – just like easy deals don’t make good salespeople”.

As a salesperson, helping a client is at your core, however when push comes to pushing more salespeople don’t want to come across as old school, Glengarry Glen Ross  buy or die. I don’t want you to be that either, however it is important that you keep going. Keep going because no one or no company has ever achieved anything important without pain. With the evolution of Fintech and especially in my world of AP and payment automation I hope you can imagine how painful it is to sit across from an accounting or finance person and say, “you know everything you have known your entire business career (shaking my head a little)?” when they say with trepidation, “yea…”. I say, “Forget that and do this”. Now I don’t say it like that, but that is what they hear. I tell them that there will be no need to type payable information into the accounting system, or file or put checks into envelops, their natural reaction are for jobs of the people who are doing the work. To do this it takes, skill in your message at the right time for the right reasons, but whatever you do don’t shy away from difficult opportunities and never give up!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

Entrepreneurs and Salespeople – Is There a Difference? #Fintech #SaaS #Entrepreneurship

 

When we started AvidXchange in 2000 there was six of us. Now Avid has close to 600 employees. That’s a nice little way of proving Avid’s growth. I get asked why Avid is so successful when other in the same sixteen years died? I take great pride in a picture we have in one of our offices that lists out all of the “dot-coms” that started in 2000 with a real estate bent. There are 100 companies listed, and when I give tours I like to point out that Avid and only one other company are still in business. Even the company that published the list is no longer in business. (So) The question is why and what does this all have to do with salespeople?

Salespeople

One of the difficult things about writing on the topic of salespeople is variety. Variety in the fact there are so many different types of salespeople – retail, corporate, B2B, B2C, B2 – something else. For this article I want to concentrate on B2B that focus their efforts on selling technology. Selling technology that is new and innovative, require a certain type of person. One of the hallmarks of a successful salesperson in this arena is the ability to think creatively and be solution and change focus. It also helps that you have the ability to teach other about new possibilities. Unfortunately I have experience reps that don’t have these qualities and treat the sales process like they are trying to sell a car or insurance policy. The two worlds don’t seem to intersect very well. I like to coach reps on the idea that what you are about ready to ask a potential client is to forget something they have known their entire business life and, trust me, change it to something you (the client) has no idea about. Sound good? It takes certain unique selling skills to thrive in this situation.

Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs have the need to stay current and know their market. There is also a need for them to be bold but not crazy. In my class at UNC Charlotte, and when interacting with people about the AvidXchange story I always like to point out, to most people’s surprise, that what we did, although on the outside looked very risky wasn’t. By in large entrepreneurs are seen as risk takers but they are not. Having recently gone through a capital event to the tune of $225M and having been at Avid when we simply wanted $15M to start the dream (oh and by the way didn’t get it). The difference between those two events were track record. Capital folks weren’t interested in investing in six people’s dream but would put a sizable sum on a successful machine. My point is entrepreneurs, even though they may not know what they don’t know, don’t take unnecessary risk.

The Answer

There is no difference between a salesperson and an entrepreneur. The two can learn a lot from each other and steal each other’s good ideas. I tell my students that an entrepreneur is always selling… they are selling clients, investors, employees (and most importantly) their families… It is heart breaking to see a tech savvy person start a company with no desire to sell and they wonder why they struggle. And on the sales side being bold without being stupid is something to know. The best example would be in going after the companies that really (really) can do business with you and not spending time on the ones that can’t. Time and time again reps will send tons of time on a company that ultimately says some version of… no thanks.

Finally

To go back to the AvidXchange early days and the six to 600, when asked, one of the answer I always give on my  we were successful is because when we started Avid five out of the six people were salespeople.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

Best Week Ever! #APAutomation #Sales #SaaS #Fintech

I have been trying to write more encouraging things to salespeople. Especially those of you that have the joy of selling software as a service. You are unable to rely on complex installs and connection to bring value. Therefore we only have our wit and charm when it comes to expressing our offerings.

Best Week?

Do you want to have the best week ever? I know I do. I have three techniques that if you follow you will have the best week. The great news if you can start to string one good week after another and before you know it (in about four weeks) you will have a good month… then a good year. I highly recommend you use these techniques this week.

Technique Number One – Be a Good Finder

A good finder is someone who finds the good in everyone and everything. A good finder is labeled as a hopeless romantic or someone how is not in touch with reality. I don’t know where our society has gone wrong when the people who are most positive are looked upon as crazy. The thing that a good finder will do for you is keep you out of despair and you will notice that when you perfect being a good finder in everyone and everything people will become more attracted to you. In a deal where the offerings are close your attitude will be the one thing that tips it in your favor, but get this… even if the offerings aren’t close and you are on the lower end, being a good finder will still tip it in your favor.

Technique Number Two – Stay Away From The Killers

I am not writing about murders, although hanging out with murders will mess up your week and destroy your pipeline. The killers I am writing about are the ones that will stops us from the greatest week ever. There are three and they are so sinister that we don’t know we are doing them and they are the quickest path to depression. Stay away from:

  1. Gossip – The difficult thing about gossip is when we start talking with a friend we get a little bit of an initial buzz. There is something trilling about tearing someone down while building you up. After the initial buzz the more you gossip the more you will drag yourself into a depressed stated. No one ever achieved anything by being depressed.
  2. Comparison – This is the true stealer of joy. The problem with comparison is you always compare the worst in you to the best in the other person. Just like gossip the result is a depressed state.
  3. Self-Pity – One of my mentors told me over 20 years ago that the problem with pity parties is very few people show up and they never bring presents. Once you have put yourself on the pity train, it is extremely difficult to get off. You will sink to a point where you will not desire to go on and question what you are doing is worthy and worthwhile. No one ever achieved anything where they didn’t have a passionate purpose.

All these killers will take you off focus and zap any energy you have to achieve, so stay away from the killers, and be very overt about not engaging with the people or events that cause these killers.

Technique Number Three – Relationships Matter

As a salesperson we are in the relationship business. I write a lot about automation and software taking over tasks that people used to do. However, if you want to have the best week ever, make sure your relationship are at their best. I have done a lot of thinking about people who are always happy versus people who are always mad or unhappy. I have come to the conclusion that the people who are happiest are the ones with the best quality relationships. Do this, if you want the best week, make sure you priorities your relationship. I don’t know why people tip toe around the jerk at the office and go home and blast their spouse for the most insignificant things. As a salesperson our home base has to be a safe place. As a young salesperson I thought that if my business was going well my family would go well. I am so very thankful that I learned early that if my family life goes well my business life will follow. Make home base a safe place. Then improve the quality of your relationships out to your kids, parents, siblings, co-workers and even your clients. Especially your clients. If the quality of your relationships are high with your clients and prospective clients you will never want for a sale again because they will become so common place it will be a matter of who and what closes next instead of hanging false hopes on a weak pipe.

Use these three techniques and I guarantee you will have the best week of your entire life.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

People Aren’t Natural Innovators – What? #APAutomation #Fintech #SaaS #Entrepreneurship

I can’t tell you how many times in the last few days I have heard that we are in an innovation society. It seems to be all around. My ears are tuned to this word because at UNC-Charlotte, I am at the point in the class I teach on Entrepreneurship where I am teaching innovation. I am fortunate in my class to stick to strategy and principles that make great entrepreneurs and not thinks like a pitch deck or a business plan, which by the way are extremely important but something I think my students can learn somewhere else. I want to teach young people (well any people for that fact) what it really means to be an entrepreneur. I have, however, taken a few thing for granted and I have come to a conclusion that people have to learn to be innovative and it is not a natural skill.

Reason 1 – Safety

Having been on the south end of more business idea pitches than I care to write about, when faced with the prospects of actually going ahead with the business people have a tendency to get scared. When people are scared they become conservative and when people are conservative their innovation takes a significant beating. Instead of birthing a completely innovative idea they dial it back to something that is currently working in the market. Innovation takes being bold… but not stupid. One of the things that I stress to my class that an entrepreneur, on the surface, looks like a risk taker but there are not.

Reason 2 – Selfie

Once people are convinced that what they have is a truly innovative idea it is very difficult to change their mind. Plus you don’t want to be one of those that are trashing their ideas. People are a collection of their experiences and knowledge and when combined with enthusiasm – look out. However, the innovative idea they are driving everyone crazy is not put to the test it is just a dream. I know when we started AvidXchange, we had several ideas that didn’t work because we defined success as a piece of software that people where, (1) Willing to buy – there was a need (2) Buy at a good rate, which allowed us to concentrate on service (3) Continue to buy so we weren’t a revolving door of new clients. We let the market and our customer decide if our idea was innovative or not.

Reason 3 – Creativity

When asked, most people will say they are creative, however, back to the first point when pressure is applied people get nervous. I especially experience this with companies that have lunched and are in a crisis. As an outsider you give what I think is simple and obvious advice because I am not part of the stress, and advice I give is always met with, “wow – what a great idea”. Stress turns creativity and the ability to do your best thinking off.

Good News

If you call out the fact that you are being safe, introspective, and less creative you can use that insight to truly be you innovative best!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

Never Underestimate the Power of Simplify #Sales #Selling #APAutomation #Fintech

 

I wanted to add this to the titile “and the negative nature of complexity” but that would make it too long, but it’s is an important aspect of simplicity… complexity.

I recently started working with a new partner, which is a lot of fun because I get to learn new things and validate things that are working. One of the things this new partner validated is… well in his words, “you are able to take things and synthesize them into their simplest form.” I really appreciated that because I intentionally make things simple… call it a strategy, but as I coach and work with more sales reps I am beginning to realize it is a skill.

Curse

Did you know that you were cursed? Not in a gypsy way, it a much more sinister way. All salespeople have what is known as the curse of knowledge. I guess all people have this, but when yousimple are in an industry that is very innovative and new like financial technology (or fintech) you will typically know more than the person you are selling to. The problem is if you don’t recognize this then you are doomed to disconnect your prospective customers. Now, your customers won’t say, “look – I have no idea what you are talking about, so therefore we can’t go ahead with the opportunity”. Nope – they will say, “we don’t have time… budget… there are other projects that need our attention… we will revisit this next year…”

Intelligent salespeople love to show others how intelligent they are, so they will accidentally make things more complex. The outcome of complexity are long drown out expensive sales processes that may or may not (that the worst) end with a customer doing business with you. Complexity works well with other complex people, but what I have found is simplicity works well with complex people too, (Hang on) However, complexity doesn’t work with simple people. Be careful, because when I label someone as simple there is a tendency to say they aren’t smart. With a high-tech situation they may be simple and very intelligent but just slow in technology.

So

Given the curse of knowledge and complex is risky, you are naturally left with simple. Here are a few thing to make sure that you stat simple:

  1. Ground Up – Best case is you ask for permission to be simple and if you are too simple your client will let you know.
  2. No Assuming – Especially if you have engaged a client and the conversation cooled off (as little as a week) don’t assume they remember everything you talked about.
  3. Learning – 65% of people learn visually, so when making things simple a picture can go a long ways.
  4. Telling – telling is not selling as well as preaching isn’t teaching so make sure the customer talks more than you.
  5. Ears – your ears are an asset, but 93% of communication is non-verbal, so make sure you are reading the customer for signs of overload.

Final quote:

“Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

Steve Jobs

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

When You Get Your Deals Can Tell You A Lot! – #sales #selling #fintech

This was my 26th end of the year as a salesperson/leader/manager/teacher/observer. I started thinking about the fun that happens at the end of the year. It also got me thinking about the end of the quarter or end of the month. In a related slash unrelated thought, it is common knowledge that the best time to buy a car is at the end of the month or (even better) the end of the year. All of this “end of” started me to thinking.

Thinking

In an effort to help salespeople, managers and training become well… better, I am always looking for non-data ways to find out what is really going on. Now, don’t get me wrong… use the data. Know your pipeline and your forecasting. This article is dedicated to taking an additional step to understand behaviors.

Activity

I have been on a big kick lately about helping people get back to the basics. I have written a few articles about cold calling and prospecting and people have really responded to them. One of the core principles that people seem to get so excited about is the need to maintain an appropriate level of activity. If you think about it, activity is the key, but on that last statement the word “appropriate” is the hard part. It is unrealistic for a seasoned rep to be spending all of their time on cold calling just like it’s unrealistic to expect a new rep to demo. If you haven’t created a “sliding scale” on activity dependent upon the rep’s experience you are setting yourself up for failure. In other words, one size does not fit all.

Indicator

I got some advice one time that has stuck with me… “Follow the money”. If you follow the money on activity what I find is the bulk of the “appropriate” activity falls at either the end of the quarter and especially at the end of the year. Now, I know this can be in line with customer’s buying patterns, but the thing that I want to call out is the fact that reps that don’t have a predictable closing pattern have a tendency to get last-minute deals, and if you are close to that rep you know that there is a desperation and they do whatever it takes to close a deal.

Know This!

All of that to write this… If you or your salespeople are closing more than 50% of their opportunities at the end of the month, quarter or year (depending on your selling cycles) their activity is too low and not the right kind of activity (probably too many emails). You or the rep will need to make more calls in person on or on the phone. Notice that I didn’t advise to send out more emails. With having such a large amount of the activity coming at the end of a point in time (and going back to the word appropriate) you or the rep may be doing the wrong kind of activity. It always pays to do the most direct type of activity as possible. Getting face to face is probably the most direct, but the next most direct is a phone conversation. After that it gets less and less direct.

Don’t

Don’t get caught by too little and too passive activity. Life is much better when you do the appropriate type and level of activity.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people that startedAvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact usfor more information.

No Decision Sales and What it Mean – #Selling #Sales #Fintech

With this article I run the risk of not getting many readers. With articles, I have found the most important aspect is the title, and this title may be more confusing than attractive.

Clearing It Up

I am a very big proponent of deal indicators. I have a lot of saying around deal indicators, like, “don’t be confused by the customer’s words, judge them by their actions”, and “deal with it before it deals with you.” There are more, but as a teacher I try as hard as I can to reduce things to an easier bit size. No decision deals or sales are opportunities that don’t close. Now, this is not a very ground breaking sentence, but to explain it better a “no decision” deal is a deal that no one gets.

The Setup

Picture this… you are in a deal with competition and at the end of the process the prospective client tells you and the competition that they are not going to do business with either of you. That’s what I mean by no decision. When a no decision event happens the customer typically gives one of a list of reasons that sounds something like this:

  • This is not a good time…
  • We don’t have any budget…
  • There are other projects that need our attention…
  • I can’t get executive buy in…

Two Things

In a deal when a combination of no one winning the deal and a vague, kind of non-material reason no one got the deal you have a key indication that the reason to invest in your offering is not known by the customer. I hope you get that because a no decision deal is a very powerful indication that you are not teaching your customers to buy from you. If you can calculate the number of deals that no one does business with you or your competition and multiple those deals to the deals you win or lose to competition you will have the ability to create a “no decision” percentage.

No Decision Percentage

Here is a chart to help see if you are teaching your customer to buy from you.

  • 0% – 15% – You are teach well! Keep it up!
  • 16% – 45% – You are ok – To improve you have to create tools to help your reps sell on the real value of your offering.
  • 46% – 100% – Not so good – This is a good indication that your sales team has no idea what the real value of your offering is.

Don’t Panic

Here is what I have found in helping companies figure out their no decision percentage, most companies fall into the last percentage of 46% – 100%. Now don’t panic, the great news is each of those companies are making money and there are usually one or two sales people (always at the top) that have figure out how to make sure they aren’t in no decision deals. The high percentage should not be an indication of failure but rather a place to focus and improve because like anything in sales if you up your percentage (even just a little) you can greatly improve the bottom line.

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information

All I Want For Christmas Are Two More Deals – #selling #sales #saas #fintech

My youngest daughter recently lost her two front teeth just in time for Christmas. As I was trying to figure out what to write about this week, I thought of “wanting more” (like teeth)  and what that means in selling.

More?

When I was younger and first starting out the “more” that I wanted was in the form of a single deal. I remember sitting at a traffic light thinking, “If I could just get all of these people at this light to do business with me I would be in great shape”. That’s a pretty sad cry for sales training, but I didn’t know. As I got better, older and more experienced the “more” that I wanted was quality not just quantity. Quality is interesting because I have a desire, not just to do a deal, but to do a big deal with a company that is perfectly suited for my offering.

If You Want More

I am lucky because recently I have been coaching new reps. Folks that don’t have the experience yet. It is interesting because it is forcing me to not only to remember what being new was like, but the importance of the fundamentals of selling. If you want more, remember the fundamentals.

  1. Prospecting – Thanks for all of the likes and comments on my recent writing about prospecting. It is not a dying discipline it is an unwanted task. Once your relationship changes with processing, cold calling, emails, social media, door knocking will become fun and strategic.
  2. Elevator Pitch – Even if you are an old pro at the practice, up dating your elevator pitch is an ongoing process, not an event. As you change and improve make sure you are not putting words or phrases in your pitch that people don’t know about or scares them off. I know this must seem obvious, but if you are like a lot of high-tech sales people you know and like your stuff to the point that you forget that others don’t know and like your stuff equally as well.
  3. Follow Up – Just do want you say you are going to do in the time frame that you said you were going to do it. If you are too busy to call someone back or follow-up on an issue, than either that issue or task wasn’t all that important to you or you don’t (or can’t) delegate well. Either way good follow-up is a practice in priority setting and its outcome is a visible sign of integrity.
  4. Percentages – As deals move through your pipe, and using a simple example, if you (1) Prospect (2) Demonstrate (3) Close (4) Service, the best way to improve the bottom line is to improve the percentage that goes from one step to another. Frist of all you have to know these number, but (as an example) if your closing percentage between step one and step two is fifteen percent, changing that to twenty percent (in my world) represents an additional $5,000 in personal income per month. Little percentage lifts make big financial benefits.
  5. Teaching – This is a little bit of a soap box for me… if you are selling a service or product that is new and innovative, you have to teach your customers how to buy from you. They won’t know what questions to ask, how to evaluate the impact and the differences between competitors (other than that – you are good – joke). If people don’t know what you do and the impact to the company, they simply won’t buy from you. Now, they won’t express the fact they don’t know and for the most part they won’t realize they don’t know, but the outcome will be some version of, “we have other priorities, we don’t have budget, it’s not good timing…” The key indication that you are not teaching your customers to buy is they don’t do business with you or any of your competitors.

New Year

Now that 2015 is coming to a close, it is a perfect time to reflect on what you want to be like in 2016. I hope this catches some of you off guard because what you want to be, how you want to act, what type of work you do is completely up to you. Don’t put your fate into the hands of anyone but you next year. Also, set as a goal to stay off of the selling roller-coaster. The selling roller-coaster is to do a lot of prospecting, then a lot of demoing, then a lot of closing, and at the end of that process you will have deals closed but you will then need to start back on the prospecting. I know it seems obvious, but staying disciplined to a little of everything every day will keep you off of the roller-coaster and allow you to create momentum in 2016. Happy selling!

Want to know more? Buy My Books!

To buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy

(Also) To get your copy of The 8 Pitfalls of Accounts Payable Automation – click here to buy

How about a children’s book? The Princess and the Paper – click here to buy

About The Author:

Christopher Elmore has written 8 books, countless articles, lectures at UNC – Charlotte and travels around the country speaking on the topics of startup success, sales, presentation skills, change, entrepreneurship, accounts payable and payment automation. Having deep startup and entrepreneurial experience, Christopher was one of the six people who started AvidXchange in 2000 and continues to work in the business today. If you hire Christopher to speak or teach at your company or event… you won’t be sorry! Request a media kit or contact us for more information