Today's blog post is by Pat Rogers, VP of Sales & Business Development at NimblePitch.
“So What's Your Story?”
Your salespeople get asked this question countless times, in meetings, at tradeshows and social gatherings, and yes, even in elevators. Do you know how they answer, how they represent your value to buyers?
Since sales began, a seller’s ability to present a relevant, compelling, and memorable story has pretty much dictated how successful he or she is versus his or her competitors. Even from the beginning, these expert storytellers had to know their product inside and out, but more importantly, they needed to know their customers’ world and how using their offering will make the buyer’s world better. Admittedly, this is Sales 101, a premise so fundamental that most of us in the sales trade cannot remember the first time we heard it; nevertheless, this knowledge has not stopped many so-called pros from leading with product, engaging with nonbuyer contacts, launching into mind-numbing slide presentations, and generally maintaining high activity levels only to be frustrated by disappointing results.
If the Story Is about Your Product, Prepare to Be Commoditized
In today’s brave new world of complex offerings, increased competition, me-too products, and an ever more informed (and many times, confused) buyer, sellers must rely less on the strength of their product as a differentiator and focus on the process itself. That is to say, in a complex, technical sales environment, how your offering is presented and how effectively your sales process involves and connects with an engaged buyer will determine how well the buyer can envision using your product to be more successful.
At the recent Sales 2.0 conference in Boston, one overriding theme was sounded again and again: the buyers have spoken, and if you're not listening, you're in trouble. For us at NimblePitch, the program's agenda helped to underscore our belief that insight-based selling (IBS) demands a fresh perspective on the needs and expectations of buyers. IBS requires a new generation of tools that do more than report on activity; they should actually help salespeople execute their “sales moment” tasks: preparing for a call, engaging and relating to a qualified buyer, crafting follow up that puts the buyer into the story, and then informing and encouraging further exploration.
Cutting the Cost of Sales
Next-generation sales force effectiveness (SFE) tools are closing the knowledge gap between new and experienced salespeople, enabling even the comparatively inexperienced rep to discuss intricate buyer issues at a business-case level, answer seemingly random questions, skip around, and point out details when called for. This enabling technology that guides the conversation, rather than dominates it, can shorten the ramp-up time for new reps and minimize the need for multiple company resources to participate in informational, on-site sales calls.
Leverage Insight, not Opinion
Sales teams are also using SFE technology to gauge prospect interest and level of participation in the sales process. Follow-up emails and voicemails can often become a black hole in the sales process. Having insight into how and at what level your buyer is actually connected to and interacting with the follow-up material you provided offers sellers a critical piece of intelligence that can help steer the direction and scope of the next sales interaction. In addition, this level of insight will help salespeople and managers more precisely grade pipeline opportunities, resulting in a more accurate assessment of overall forecast value and timing.
I’d be interested in hearing about how innovative sales-execution tools will impact measurable SFE. Share your thoughts below or connect with me at [email protected].