4 MIN READ
So we’ve all seen it before a polished team of millennial sales people, great haircuts, stylishly groomed beards and the latest iPhone. They came to the sales kick off with tons of enthusiasm and are ready to take over the world.
You, as a leader, have done your job of evangelizing that, your company and product are different and disruptive. Everyone should be excited that you have arrived in the market.
Then your Salespeople get on the phone, their excitement books meetings, demos and creates a pipeline of opportunities.
You seemingly have a great amount of momentum, but a few months go by, in your forecast meetings you hear the following:
1.I’m waiting for an update.
2.They said they’d let us know.
3.They thought what we did was awesome so I don’t understand why he’s not getting back to me.
4.I thought it was a done deal but I can’t reach her.
5.They’ve told me they went with someone else.
As time goes by these deals continually fall off of your forecast and no one seems to know why. So as a leader you assume they need to make more calls, work longer hours and push clients to close etc. etc.….
Reality Check: If deals aren’t moving and people aren’t responsive, sales has likely not done a great job of connecting the value your solution to a business pain that they currently have. Everyone one loves to see the next cool thing, but companies buy products that solve burning problems.
So are your reps selling value? Do they know how? Is this a part of your sales culture?
Many salespeople and leaders alike believe they are, but they do it at a very surface level, focusing on features, functions and benefits. The best salespeople and delve into why their customers buy, stay and continue to invest in them as a vendor. They then in turn use this knowledge to sell more effectively.
So why are your Salespeople not better at value based selling? Chances are you fall into one or more of these 3 categories:
1. Your onboarding process is not customer centric.
Yes, you’ve done a great job of having them learn the product & demo. But have your new people have a conversation with your customers? Do they have the ability to hear why a client loves your product or service? Have they had the opportunity to get excited about that value first hand? Chances are if you are like most companies the answer is no. Companies tend to keep customer relationships in account management, support or marketing. The concept of having a new hire talk to an existing customer is a foreign one to most organizations.
2. Your Salespeople don’t know how to uncover business pain?
A VP of Sales out of New York once told me that most salespeople that fail have a “show up & throw up approach to prospects”. What he meant was they spend more time pitching and less time asking the questions and listening. Are your reps pitching and pushing or are they asking questions to see if they can genuinely add value to prospects’ current business problems?
3. Do they understand that “NO” is OK.
I used to work for a Global VP of sales named Chris Vercelli who used to tell our entire team. If it’s going to be a “NO”, Get to the “NO” quickly and get back to work. We’ve all heard salespeople say things like:
“Well why don’t you take a look to compare it to what you have?” or “Sometimes it’s great to take a meeting to see what is out there.”
These meetings are not valuable to your company or the prospect and are wasting valuable selling time.
The average executive gets from various salespeople each day trying to pitch them on the next big thing. So it is critical to make sure your team is focused on uncovering pain and connecting value within your sales process.
Your goal is to enable your sales people to have the best chance of success when talking to a potential customer.
If you are committed to helping them succeed, consider the following steps to have an impact on their performance this year:
1.Revisit your onboarding process
Make sure your onboarding process includes 2-3 conversations with existing customers to set the stage around selling value. Hearing about the customer problems you solve first hand will have a huge impact on your sales team. The most successful companies make sure their sales people get exposure to customers so they can truly understand the customers’ challenges. This helps them gain clarity on why your company was their vendor of choice. Most companies spend little to no time in their onboarding process on helping salespeople understand the “true customer value”.
True Customer Value = The impact your product or service has had on their particular business problem?
2. Ask More Questions!
Spend time teaching your team how to uncover customer pain. Twice a month profile the business problems your company has solved for specific clients. Then take those problems and go through a list of questions your salespeople can use to uncover these with prospects. If you are a smaller team invest in training and ongoing mentorship to ensure that this approach to selling stays a focal point for the long term. This will increase the quality of the deals in your pipeline and give your team more confidence in their daily selling time.
“Stat on uncovering customer pain OR % or reps that dont truly know how???”
3. Create a culture where “NO” is ok.
Many times Sales reps are trying to push a solution onto a prospect when that prospect doesn’t have a burning business problem. If a prospect doesn’t have a problem you can solve today, it is a clear sign to move onto the next prospect. Salespeople should be encouraged to focus on finding opportunities where they can help and solve problems and not waste their time elsewhere. Qualifying someone out of the sales process can sometimes be as valuable to you as qualifying someone in.
Creating an “All we do is win” culture is great for sales but the impact will fall short if your sales team doesn’t sell beyond “My Company is so awesome and you should buy from us.” Keeping customers challenges first place will always help you attain sustainable revenue growth in the long run.
Are you focused on double digit growth this year? For more insight on ways to impact your revenue growth. click here.
George Albert is a C-level executive, entrepreneur and one of the original pioneers of the digital sales movement in North America. He works with B2B leaders in building and executing growth plans to meet their goals. George’s work has helped thousands of salespeople and sales leaders alike, transform and thrive in today’s complex B2B selling landscape.