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Sales Insight Roundup: Segmentation Strategy and Executive Coaching Tips

The sales insight roundup gathers news, research and provocations from thought leaders in sales and leadership. Here’s what we found interesting this week:

Strategy, Selling, and Segmentation

From Gartner

“Yes, you want to be customer focused–but you also want to do that in the context of a solid business strategy. One case study in the book talks about a payroll services company that switched their focus from highly “transient” small businesses (like restaurants) –who had been one of their biggest segments–to small consulting companies after determining that these businesses had more stability and opportunity for longer term relationships.

They then changed their sales approach–putting a heavy emphasis on partnering with CPAs (key influencers for these consulting firms). They also continued to accept the other business (from restaurants, etc), but did so through a lower cost, inside sales approach. Their close rate on those deals decreased, but so had their costs. Conversely, they had large productivity increases on their sales to consulting firms, increasing revenue, close rates, and profitability. They also adapted their product offerings to appeal to these segments.

This illustrates a much more connected approach to business–aligning sales approaches with marketing targets and product planning–an approach that paid big dividends.

The next time you are evaluating your targets, be very cognizant of both the attributes that make buyers a good target–for themselves and for you. Narrow your focus and adopt a sales approach based on two things—how you can make it easier for the customer to buy the way they want to AND how you can drive the most success and profit by choosing targets and approaches that make the most strategic sense for your business. The combination is critical.”

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Our Take: Before sales and marketing teams take the time to craft provocative, segmented Insights, make sure your sales approach maps to your company’s overall strategy for growth.

Predictions For The Data Economy In 2015 Forrester

From Forrester

“We expect new data economy trends to have significant impact in 2015. Herewith are two of our predictions:

▪ Data services become a must-have add-on to product sales. Traditional product offerings will expand to routinely include data services. Sensor-embedded tractors generate data to power John Deere & Companys Farm Insights…Next year will see data services move from being an interesting play by innovative companies to a mainstream aspect of product offerings, as “Do you want data services with that?” becomes a familiar refrain. ▪ The data economy expands to data science and data service markets. Now that data scientists can in effect publish algorithms to an “app store”, they can monetize their research, knowledge, and creativity. Data analysts and data scientists will publish application programming interfaces (APIs) to Azure Marketplace web services, making insights all the more accessible. Consuming analysts will accelerate time-to-value by searching and buying APIs related to their areas of need, rather than researching and building them.

And while concerns about data security and privacy will persist and remain important factors in the expansion of the data economy, they will have only a minimal braking effect on its momentum in 2015.”

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Our Take: With data service add-ons, salespeople who have been comfortable selling products will be thrust into service selling, as well. Technology leaders are increasingly reporting that external data is important to their business strategy. Make sure it’s also a business priority to equip salespeople with the skills and materials they will need for data service sales.

Standard Out of Office Messages are Boring - Try This Instead

From The Muse

“Hello. Thanks for writing. I am out of the office and will respond to your email as soon as possible. There’s nothing wrong with those 20 words. They are clear, direct, and easy to understand. But they’re not exactly memorable. They don’t really “add” anything to your reader’s day. They’re just forgettable filler. We can do better.The next time you’re writing an “out of office” auto-responder, don’t be generic. Be interesting and generous…

Your Challenge? See if you can make your auto-responder the best email that people read all day.That’s the beauty of a thoughtful, well-written auto-responder. You can be “away”—and still show your clients, co-workers, and anyone else you communicate with just how much you care.”

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Our Take: It’s wonderful to reimagine the mundane. How great would it be if your out of office message was helpful to someone instead of bringing disappointment that they can’t reach you.

How to Participate in Your Employee’s Coaching

From Harvard Business Review

“Executive coaching is often viewed as a strategic investment in human capital – a perk reserved for employees with high potential — and managers have realized that they need to participate in the process. If you are a manager with a direct report who is working with an external coach, there are several things you can do at the beginning of a coaching engagement to help make it successful….

By carefully considering your role in the executive coaching of your direct reports, you can help retain talented members of your team while helping them learn and grow as managers, leaders and teammates, and supporting them as they take their performance up to the next level. Your direct reports will progress further and better on their coaching path if you help show them where it is and where it leads, and then provide direction and support along the way.”

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Our Take: In this article, Ben Dattner brings up an important a point that’s often overlooked in the coaching process – the evolvement of key stakeholders.

Comment below with other articles you found interesting this week or comment with your opinion of the Insight Roundup articles.

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