Best Week! #APAutomation #Sales #SaaS #Fintech – #Vlog

Conference season is over. I have introduced myself back to my family… My kids (especially the 6 year old) are now use to ordering me around and wife is no long asking me who I am and what am I doing in her house.

I had the opportunity to speak at 16 different events between late August and early November, and it was great! Here is a little mash up of an event I did on having the best week of your life. Enjoy!

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

Entrepreneurial Sales – Idea Creation – #APAutomation #Entrepreneurship #SaaS #Fintech

Where do good ideas come from? The best way to answer this questions is to watch this video.

I hope you were able to watch the entire video because he explains it so well. To put this information into context of selling… As salespeople we are tasked with creating good ideas. People in your company and in management may disagree with me on this statement, but if you desire to become a creative and innovative salesperson you will buy into the idea that you are only as good as your ideas.

Ideas

When I write about idea creation you might think “product”. However, product is important, but as an entrepreneurial salesperson you will need to have ideas around:

 

  1. Where to prospect
  2. How to prospect
  3. Creative ways to demonstrate value
  4. Creative ways to prove value
  5. Introduce the business
  6. Selling the entire offering

 

I am somewhat tired of the term “out of the box”. There is only one box… that’s the one you put yourself in. I suggest you stay out of one.

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 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.

 

What, Why and How Salespeople Struggle – VLOG #SaaS #Sales #APAutomation

Software as a service and AP Automation sales people hurt themselves by the information they talk about. Find out what that is.

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 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.

Why Marketing and Sales Do The Same Thing Differently #APAutomation #Sales #SaaS

I am somewhat new to the marketing game. When I started my selling career in 1993 (I really started in 1978, but that’s another story) the idea of marketing was left to the big companies and the companies I worked for didn’t advertise because they had salespeople. The idea was, “why would I want to spend money on marketing when I could just hire more salespeople?”

Times – Changing

I recently heard a stat that claimed 75% of all buying decisions are already made by the time a consumer picks up the phone and calls a company to inquire about their product. I believe we have the internet to thank for this. I know I personally do this when I am ready for a new car, house… you know major ticket item. I have also found myself doing research on minor ticket times as well… It has become a habit.

The Problem

The big challenge with searching and doing research on something like AP Automation is all in the source. To get good information you must have a good, credible source. One of the biggest sources of research is a company’s website. The problem with that is a company won’t (and sometime can’t) tell you what their short falls are so you can objectively evaluate their software and service. I know this will sound like a personal plug, but this is the reason why I write books, and it’s also the reason why I think my books are popular because it takes a lot more effort and research to get a book published rather than getting a website published.

The Same

I could have spent more time on the problem, but to be clear when you don’t know about something you have a very difficult time researching objectively the pluses and minuses of the offering. This is why sales and marketing do the same thing but different. We are each in the business of teaching. The better we can teach the better we can, in marketing’s case, attract the right type of companies and in sales, work on the right deals. This is the key, qualification. Both sales and marketing has to be excellent qualifiers. Both groups are ultimately judged and how well each qualifies. The notion that a lead from marketing is fully qualified isn’t a possibility in our industry. The reason being, without a conversation, a salesperson is unable to know what the assumptions of the prospective company is. Plus, I like to tell young salespeople this, if we were able to generate fully qualified leads from marketing, why would we need salespeople?

To Be Clear

Sales and marketing do the same thing… teach. The better each is at communicating and diagnosing the customer’s needs the better each will do. The downside of this is, in order to be an effective teacher you really have to know your subject matter. That means, not only your product, which is where most sales and marketers start and stop, but to know how the customer uses the product and services, what the impact to the organization and the landscape of the industry including competition. There is a lot to know before you can teach!

 

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 that 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

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.

What, Why and How Salespeople Struggle – VLOG #SaaS #Sales #APAutomation

Software as a service and AP Automation sales people hurt themselves by the information they talk about. Find out what that is.

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 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.

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