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Few sales organizations realize their full potential, partly because they don’t execute well. We urge organizations to move beyond conventional wisdom in how they think about executing sales processes and have placed methods for making improvement to sales execution at the center of our research on sales in 2014. In our recent research on sales forecasting almost half (44%) of sales organizations said they have impediments that are motivating management to consider further investment in sales technology, and the most common of those is inconsistent execution (for 53%). Many sales organizations don’t use training in a consistent manner and fail to automate processes to gain efficiency.
Software provider Qvidian specializes in sales execution and has applications operating in a cloud environment and on mobile technology that help optimize sales processes and increase productivity of sales teams. The company has 15 years of experience in developing sales playbooks and proposal software, and more than 1,200 customers now use its applications in the cloud. Qvidian makes it a point to be adaptive in meeting the variety of needs of sales organizations across industries and sizes.
Its Sales Playbooks provide digital guidance to help users achieve the best results in an efficient manner. One of the products’ focuses is to make sales processes repeatable, which is critical to optimizing revenue across quotas and territories. The playbook approach also supports what we call collaborative coaching, which our recent research shows is a top focus for improving collaboration in the sales forecasting process. Qvidian’s approach can automate and guide the sales process.
The company also has introduced mobile support for its Sales Playbooks. Our research finds a need for that, as more than half (51%) of organizations already use tablets and another quarter (26%) plan to deploy them in the next 18 months. Qvidian supports its playbooks on the Apple iPad, which currently is the most widely used tablet in sales organizations. To further streamline the use of playbooks, Qvidian has user and functional integration with salesforce.com’s sales force automation software. The tight linkage enables triggering of actions based on rules for certain conditions. Qvidian’s independent approach to sales processes and systems fills a void in the SFA and CRM markets; its playbooks can run on any application commonly used in sales.
To know where improvement is needed and how achieve it, companies need insights derived from analytics applied to data from sales processes. Qvidian Sales Analytics enables users to create and track metrics and indicators that can point out inefficiencies to be addressed through coaching and guidance and to establish repeatability. Analytics is consistently rated by sales professionals in our research as the top new technology to help improve sales efforts. Qvidian’s sales analytics help managers identify where sales reps are not following the mandated process and suggest ways to help through using a playbook or a series of steps that are known to provide better results.
Qvidian offers other applications to help sales people be more efficient in the tedious tasks of preparing necessary documents and information. Qvidian Proposal Automation can help a sales organization deliver consistent proposals. Proposal Automation also helps standardize requests for proposal and suggests responses that have been proven accurate and effective. It also helps add consistency to sales presentations by quickly generating useful slides. Professionals typically spend large amounts of time on tasks such as these that automation can make repeatable and consistent across a sales organization.
Qvidian’s customers range from large well-known brand names such as Aon, Office Depot and Prudential to smaller sales teams in technology companies such as inContact and Splunk. Making its sales applications available through cloud computing enables sales groups to deploy and use its software with little IT intervention and helps sales teams be self-sufficient in their sales processes. While many sales organizations still believe that sales force automation will address all their needs, we find that applications like those from Qvidian can help them operate more effectively and improve overall execution of sales processes. We recommend evaluating Qvidian if your organization is seeking to maximize sales productivity and gain consistent execution on the road to optimal results.
CEO & Chief Research Officer
In a very quiet and very subtle move, Callidus Software (NASDAQ: CALD) has offered to purchase the assets of ForceLogix for about $3.75 million. This sales applications software company provides sales coaching software to help sales managers realize the full value of their sales representatives. In 2010, Callidus Software entered into an OEM agreement to embed ForceLogix within a new offering called Sales Coaching; it clearly concluded that the opportunity to expose the application to further opportunities in its customer base was too important for ForceLogix to be allowed to continue to operate independently, and so it used some of its stated cash position of almost $11 million at end of September. This step into a pre-sales and sales management application is a key move toward expanding its sales performance management position. I would guess that Callidus sees some significant revenue growth in 2011 and beyond for its purchase.
The ForceLogix application is one that I have been tracking for many years. It has come a long way; its latest 5.5 release includes a series of great advancements. The core application is known to be quite robust in providing a series of performance and process metrics about a sales rep as well as guidance on places to improve. The advancements that came out in August with the new version include support for sales manager coaching, performance improvement plans and reviews and coaching suggestions. In addition, the application includes an offline version with synchronization to enable coaching and reviews even when not connected to the Internet. Critical advancements in workflow, notifications and tracking make the core application more robust, and its utility is improved with new management views for assessing actuals, competencies and trending. These advancements support what our sales benchmark research found improve efficiency of sales processes is a top benefit of sales performance management that every organization should be investing into and Callidus is one of the key suppliers of it.
It’s important to note as well that ForceLogix had stepped up its development efforts along with focused sales efforts. In fact, its list of customers has grown to include Corning, Lenovo, Motorola and others. Foreshadowing this move, ForceLogix had already been expanding its integration with Callidus with single sign-on and use of underlying information and metrics. Now with Callidus buying the assets, will it offer jobs to all of the employees and keep the same level of investment and growth? Time will tell.
On the Callidus side this is a positive growth opportunity, and one that comes as the company has been reducing its operating footprint and costs. Despite this shrinkage, Callidus is closing new customers both at home and across the globe (which is a growing percentage of its business); among those added are AAA of Michigan, ESPN, Health Net and others. Callidus has been working its way through a very difficult transition from a license-and-maintenance model for its offerings to a recurring software-as-a-service rental approach that now represents 72 percent of its total revenue in its third quarter results. This conversion is no easy task and as it finds further growth in the market will provide an interesting case study of business management and an operating model transformation.
Focusing on profitability and margins is good financial management, especially for a public company, but it alone is not enough if the company isn’t able to market itself effectively against peer competitors – in this case, competitors like Merced Systems and Varicent, which have been increasing their marketing and sales efforts, and Xactly, which appears to have flattened its spend in this area. Most interesting was the pullback of Callidus’s efforts with salesforce.com; at the latter’s 2009 Dreamforce conference it showed the new set of products in which it had invested significantly and which I analyzed. Since then Dreamforce 2010 has come and gone and Callidus did not even exhibit at the event. Although in my opinion salesforce has not invested significant effort recently in advancements for sales forces (See: “Can Your Sales Force Trust Salesforce.com?“), there remains activity in that area, and all of Callidus’s direct sales compensation competitors were present and this year’s show and actively in dialogue with prospects and Xactly appears to have the front seat as salesforce uses its products and has many partnering activities in motion.
Competitively, Callidus, like others, will face the reentry of Oracle into this space with its Fusion CRM for Sales which I have recently assessed (See: “Sneak Preview and Analysis: Oracle Fusion Applications for CRM and Sales Organizations“), and major releases from Varicent (See: “Sales Compensation Easier To Manage with Varicent 7“) and Merced (which already has a Coaching Plus application that it highlighted at its recent conference. This will make it even more important for Callidus to effectively market its advancements and value if it is to compete in this highly competitive environment. It has appeared in 2010 that it has removed itself from most common marketing activities to slash its operating expenses. For Callidus the question is whether SAP will come back and embrace Callidus as a partner or as an acquisition or will IBM decide to expand its existing sales analytics solution.
Callidus has also found some other critical application expansion opportunities. It recently highlighted an onboarding application that has had yielded growth in the insurance industry – it helps streamline agents’ ability to operate across carriers quickly, in some cases in only 30 minutes compared to the week or more required in a manual process. This application is yet another example of the potential of sales performance management.
I believe that in acquiring the assets of ForceLogix Callidus Software has a great opportunity for growth, but it will have to beef up and improve its marketing efforts to ensure it can compete for consideration in this area. It has a solid foundation as we have assessed its company and products in our Value Index. Clearly the newly augmented application will offer an opportunity to sell back to its customers, but Callidus must reach for the larger opportunity of organizations starting with sales coaching and then progressing to improvement in sales compensation and other sales performance management applications that it has and should expand, build and partner more for in the future.
Mark Smith – CEO & EVP Research