Today's blog is by Sharon Gillenwater. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, the only business intelligence tool designed exclusively for C-suite sales, marketing, and recruiters who need to reach, engage, and build relationships with C-level executives. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.
SPIN Selling. NEAT Selling. SNAP Selling. CustomerCentric Selling. MEDDIC. The Challenger Sale. These are some of the most popular sales methodologies today.
There are other models, of course. And you can be sure we’ll see new ones in the future. But, at a high level, what they seem to have in common is this: Relationship and solution selling is out, and using actual customer insight to drive impactful business conversations is in.
What salespeople should be doing is diving deep into the heart of the customer’s issues – what do they care about, where are they going, and what’s standing in their way? Dig into any of the aforementioned sales methodologies and you’ll discover that success requires a fundamental understanding of each customer’s business.
The Sales Experience Matters
The Challenger Sale authors, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, conducted one of the largest sales studies ever done and found, among other things, that 53 percent of customer loyalty is driven by the sales experience – not brand, price, service, or even product. It’s about the interaction salespeople have with their customers. So, if you go into a conversation unprepared and uninformed, it won’t matter how great your product is or how low the price. The customer will be annoyed that you’re wasting their time.
So…how do you get the right customer insight? There’s no silver bullet; you have to dig. Read earnings calls. Search for articles and interviews with the company’s key executives. Review articles and press releases about the company. Is it in the process of making acquisitions? Is it launching new products or moving into new markets? Is it cutting costs and laying off workers? Most of the time, the information is out there. The challenge is in knowing how to find it, determining what is wheat and what is chaff, and, of course, just finding the time to do the research in the first place.
Boardroom Insiders does all that and more, using experienced business analysts and editors. We do the heavy lifting of research and then refine the information (which also includes personal and biographical information on executive decision makers) into an easy-to-digest format.
Finding the Right Prospects
We also make it easy to find the people you’re looking for. We recently launched a revamped database search tool that allows robust filtering across multiple criteria. So our customers can now filter our database of thousands of C-level executive profiles by industry (e.g., financial services), function (e.g., technology/digital), gender (e.g., female), interest (e.g., tennis), title (e.g., chief security officer), region (e.g., northeast), and keyword.
For instance, if you’re looking for financial services executives in the northeast who are talking about “digital transformation,” you can now combine filtering and keyword search to find C-level executives who meet that specific go-to-market criteria. If your CEO is into aviation, you can also find other CEOs who share that interest, which can help with small talk and making authentic connections. Want to set up a cricket watching event for executives in the northeast? Our interest filter makes finding C-level cricket fanatics a snap. Or, if you’re a non-profit looking for new board members, you can use our new filters to easily identify C-level corporate leaders who care about your issue – whether it’s STEM, autism, human trafficking, or domestic violence.
Clearly, there are numerous applications for using our database, but the fundamental one is to get a deep understanding of potential customers. With knowledge and insights about a given organization and its leaders in hand, you can get on board with a SPIN, a NEAT, or a SNAP, and have confidence that – when you get that meeting with a decision maker – you will be prepared to speak their language and make an authentic connection. Our deliverables complement your sales methodology by providing the fuel and fodder for business conversations. Armed with this information, you’ll be that rare sales pro who is prepared to help your customer navigate their options, advise them on business issues, and educate them on solutions that will help drive their business goals.
Of course, determining the best sales methodology for your company will depend on your market, products, industry position, and culture; no one model is right for everyone. But don’t forget the common thread that runs through them all – deep customer insight and the ability to connect the dots to what you’re selling.