Thursday, August 28, 2014

Apples to Apples: Applying SCOTSMAN Scoring to Channel Sales and Campaigns

At Porter Consulting, we manage IT infrastructure channel demand gen campaigns, where the deal sizes run from 10,000 to 100,000+.  For those campaigns, we provide program management and sales coaching.  As you can imagine, costs per lead can be expensive, and demonstrating ROI is important to everyone involved.  A lot of our work is ensuring that the leads generated meet the profiles set during campaign planning.  Over the past few years, we have moved from simple BANT qualification to the SCOTSMAN model.  Before we get any further, let’s define the models and what they can do for us:

·         BANT means: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe.  But this just shows that someone wants to spend some money.  Most campaigns are much more focused: competitive displacement, installed base refresh, very specific product lines or solutions.  BANT does not really address those aspects.  As a result, leads may not match the narrow objectives of the sponsor.  We have many cases where only 30% of the BANT-qualified leads were actually in the target sweet spot of the campaign.  That is where SCOTSMAN profiling can really help to keep everyone on track.

·         SCOTSMAN extends the BANT model to ensure that the prospect is interested in the specific solution being promoted by the campaign.  Here is how BANT and SCOTSMAN match up.  The four extra criteria (Solution, Competition, Originality, Size) re essential for working the deal effectively.


Solution (does what they want match what we are selling?)

Competition (can we be in the running?)

Originality (does our value proposition resonate?)
Timescales (is it close-in enough to pursue?)

Size (is it worth our while, or too big to tackle?)
Money (can I win based on their funds available?)
Authority (are we speaking to the right people?)
Need (is there enough pain for them to commit?)

Here is how we apply it:

For each campaign, we create simple criteria for every SCOTSMAN element.  For every letter, what does a 5 look like, and what does a 1 look like.  We then use the model to rank each deal after initial qualification, and then periodically as we work with the reps to advance the deals.

Creating that simple model enables us to do many things:

For each lead:
  • Evaluate their fit to the campaign, and only accept and pass on leads to the reps that match the solution.
  • Provide specific guidance to the reps on what needs immediate understanding, to convert lead to deal as fully qualified.
  • Help the reps take the next steps to improve the overall score, or drop the deal as a poor opportunity.

For the larger set of leads generated by the campaign:
  • Assess whether the prospect list is generating leads with the right profile. 
  • Provide additional training to the telemarketing team if certain areas are consistently poorly understood.
  • Give the sponsor a solid understanding of how the leads are mapping to the campaign objectives.
  • Help partner sales managers understand if they have weaknesses addressing certain

Applying the model leads to better quality and consistency for both leads and sales reps execution.  That converts to more revenue and better campaign ROI. 

We like the solution because it allows us to capture the scoring easily, and in concert with the rest of the campaign tracking information.  That leads to better, faster, decisions and better results.

We recommend applying SCOTSMAN as a simple way to add rigor to your sales management process. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A "lingua franca" for Indirect Sales Channels

Whenever you get groups of people working together and needing to communicate 

together, there is obviously a need for a common language. That is easy if you are 

all from the same country, group – or company, but if you are, a diverse group, who 

each have their own “language”, then you have the need for a lingua franca. The best 

examples, are probably the use of English in the airline industry and in technology, 

where people from all over the world work together. Without a consensus way of 

communicating, we would be in a mess, and would not have made the huge progress 

that has been made in both sectors. The alternative is to try and live and work in a sort 

of “Tower of Babel” . It would be chaos.

Wherever we have diverse groups working together or even technologies working 

together it is a really good idea to have a common hub to work together or a lingua 

franca. Very often we have a “de facto” language to work with – like the English 

language example in airlines and technology, but there are places where “the 

languages” that are available, are, first of all, too diverse, and secondly, do not fit the 

purposes of the diverse community. 

Indirect Channel Sales is very interesting “community”. It is a huge community that 

transacts billions of dollars, but does so without a consensus way of working together. 

It consists of vendors, consultants, resellers, distributors, etc, who all work together, 

but they all have their own way of doing things, and because there is no “consensus” 

or specialty system, the systems are normally VERY basic, or systems built for direct 

sales – and they are specifically NOT to be used for collaborative working with “non-

employees” or even employees who are not approved. The truth is that the problem is 

even worse in the channel sales because the community is not only large and diverse, 

it is also dynamic - the people who are working together are doing so on a deal by deal 

basis, and every deal can have a different mix of people, companies – and 

systems! Can you imagine how much more we could do if there was a specialist 

system that was built for the needs of the indirect channel sales community AND built 

for collaboration AND to act as that hub, where everyone can share the system and 

data they generate?

Taking the metaphor to an extra level, many people regard pidgin languages as lingua 

francas because they take elements from other languages. In the case of Sales 

Tracking and Management systems there are many elements that are part of all 

systems, and is intended to have those elements – be familiar - 

have “stages”, pipelines, etc. 

Indeed, the final dimension that we think is important is to have shared best practices, 

even when you allow customization. You can fully customize the Questions you ask in 

your sales tracking forms, but we aim to promote the use of the SCOTSMAN 

methodology through our system – that could be the “English language of airlines and 

technology” – but that is subject of another article from a guest who is a specialist 

on the subject.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sales is always the most expensive, wasteful and mismanaged department in every company

As bad as that statement is, the real irony lies in the fact that Sales is also the most important department (once you have a product to sell), and holds the potential to most drastically impact both the top and the bottom lines of any organization, with the least amount of effort.

A typical technology company will spend 50% or more of every revenue dollar, feeding its Direct Sales force.  That’s an amazingly inefficient metric, and yet it continues year after year without any significant innovation.  There are a few dirty little secrets associated with why Sales continues to trudge through the Valley of Dysfunction while the rest of the major business disciplines have undergone transformational change over the past 20 years.

·       Executive Sales Leaders are typically powerful “type A” personalities who have risen to the top based on charisma, competitive drive and reliance on their own intuition.  They trust in themselves and what they’ve always done to succeed.  In their minds, “It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it”.  They also tend to look out for their own, and paying multiple levels of high commissions to maintain Sales organizations is, in their minds, the way business has always gotten done.

·       Control and Visibility are rightly viewed as essential components of a successful Selling Organization.  Utilizing any one of the many leading CRM’s or Sales Automation tools on the market provides Executives with both the ability to control the process and track the progress of deal flow, within their own Direct Sales teams. Indirect or Channel sales are much more efficient, from a cost/benefit perspective (typically consuming just 30-35% of revenue), but many Sales VP’s who cut their teeth carrying a bag Direct selling are loathe to give up control of their revenue to the wild unknown of the Channel.  CFO’s, who live and die on the predictability of their monthly and quarterly numbers seem willing to trade 30% in profit margin delta (Direct Sales costs vs. the Channel) for the deal visibility that comes with a purely Direct selling strategy.

·       Leads and deals that are passed onto Partners, Distributors, VARS and Integrators seem to disappear into a “black hole” from which no “light” (information) can escape, until the deal is either magically closed, or the word comes back that it has been lost entirely.  Most large technology vendors will privately admit that the only methods they have to track the progress of big deals in the Channel are manually pestering their partners with phone calls and emails, and then filling out spread sheets with whatever information they can extract.

This archaic state of affairs seems incomprehensible in the age of the internet, the cloud and ubiquitous mobile computing.  But the truth is, the big CRM vendors have little to no motivation to integrate with their competitors, and the nature of a channel ecosystem are no common processes and wildly varying systems. How does a vendor enforce visibility, control and common sales processes among a completely heterogeneous partner organization?

The time has come for true innovation in the Sales world. Rightsizing and optimizing the mix of Channel and Direct to reduce costs, increase profit margin and drive overall revenue are the changes that can mean the difference between barely surviving and dominating your market.
Soon we will be able to show you how real companies are utilizing this kind of innovation to transform their businesses.

Monday, August 18, 2014

View from the Front Line
This week a user is going “live” albeit in a small and   controlled way.

We have been working with this company for a number of months, and we are very grateful for their support and patience with our evolving products.

We have now reached the point where our software is robust enough that it can be deployed and will deliver sales channel automation.

Like all good implementations the software is going in a controlled and managed way. The user’s staff have been trained and briefed with the Sales Director as the product champion leading the way.

Our consultants have been working closely with her during the past few weeks to make sure that deployment will be a success and will immediately add value to their business.

Implementing any CRM is a non-trivial process, and with a new product with revolutionary capabilities it’s even more important to get the change management and the cultural shift correct.
To a large extent though because talks in the language of the channel manager and other sales and marketing professionals, and because it has an intuitive interface, user acceptance of the system is remarkably swift, you just need to make sure you have underpinned the implementation with good planning.

This first phase of this implementation is relatively straight forward in that initially is working only within the users company, however the plan is to extend this deployment very rapidly to their reseller base.

We will let you know how this project matures through future postings

Jonathan Hopkins
Professional Services Group – Indirect Sales

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 Live

It’s been quite a ride but at last our pre-production web service is live. We’re working on final testing and a few tweaks but if you have a need to get greater visibility of your Channel Sales Automation process then we shall be happy to show you around, let you kick the tires and see what can do for you.

The sales landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Once, the majority of sales were driven by a direct sales force but now over two thirds of all sales go via the channel including retail, the web and local and regional distributors and resellers. Not long ago, you could track leads from your marketing programs through to end user sales. You knew when and why a customer purchased your product and what had caught their interest to do so. 

Now, with so many leads and opportunities going through your channel and the lack of visibility of them, you’re often flying blind when it comes to making sales, marketing, production, logistics and even product decisions. 

This is the issue that addresses.  To bring a collaborative approach to channel sales and marketing; where you get to see what happens to your leads, you can better manage your sales and you can understand how effective your marketing programs are. 

And what does the reseller get for all this?  They know that you are with them every step of the way. They know that you are invested in helping them close the sale and will reward successful collaboration with more and better targeted programs in the future.

But what of the overhead of setting up and using the system? follows tried and tested sales processes that should be familiar to every successful sales person. It uses simple tailored Q &A menus to determine how far along the sale has moved and assigns probability of closure so you can achieve better forecasting and alignment of resources. 

And to minimize the overhead for the salesperson on the street we have developed a mobile app which allows them to update the sale status as and when the information becomes available in real time.

Why not get ahead of the game? Take a look around to see if it can help you regain control and be able to conduct your business like you want to conduct your business.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Time to Partner - join us!

Over the past few months, we have been investing heavily in the product and in our pioneering customers. The experience has been good and highlights just how diverse the world of indirect channel sales can be. However, everyone has the same  fundamental issues in common, especially the need for collaborative selling – and we use the word “partnership” without thinking about what it really means.
Everyone wants data to run the business; processes they can understand and agree on. They want their own businesses protected and maximized but don’t particularly care about the other guys business.
It’s a unique world, but there is a very large and important business community, looking for a common process.
To reflect this, we have decided that this blog, which is about Channel Sales Automation, will be open for outside contributors to share their experiences and views. From an perspective, we will be inviting people with views on how technology can provide new features (that did not exist even 5 years ago) to allow such a product to be put together – an engineering view; how Direct and Indirect Sales teams can and should work more effectively – a sales view.  We’d like your thoughts on how the very existence of sales best practices, such as SCOTSMAN, can work really well for companies looking for ways to collaborate properly; a lingua franca. We believe that anyone can and should understand a system like SCOTSMAN that encompasses the underlying principles of most sales methodologies.
Vendors looking to work with Partners; Partners looking to work with Vendors; Channel sales and Marketing looking to work with both, separately and together.  Distributors, equally straddle the two worlds and can bring a unique perspective to the world of channel sales automation and the need for something beyond spreadsheets. If this is your world, we want to hear from you.
We welcome everyone  to join the debate. If you have something to say, just contact us. And please, subscribe to the blog and share with people you know who might be interest. It should be an interesting ride.