November 19, 2010

Equip The Sales Team To Execute & Win

One common reason many salespeople fail at new business development is because they’re always “waiting on the company.” Waiting for new marketing materials. Waiting for more training. Waiting for leads. Top-performing hunters don’t wait; they act. They pro-act (my word). They believe like I do that Sales is a Verb and top-performers aren’t waiting around for anyone or anything. They’re in motion – out shooting to kill something.

Having said that, I have recently seen several frustrating situations where “The Company” or “Marketing” or “Product Management” isn’t making the effort to equip Sales with what they need to execute and win.

The hunter needs clarity so he/she can focus.  Clarity and Focus. Think about super high-performing salespeople you know. Are they crystal clear on what they’re selling? On whom their targeting? On how to approach the market and how to find pain and opportunity in an account? On their story and what differentiates their solution? Are they focused like a laser on the mission at hand? No doubt about it. I challenge you to come up with one top-performing new business development person who lacks clarity and focus. You won’t because they don’t exist.

If clarity and focus are so critical to success, why are companies leaving so much for the sales team or the individual to figure out? If we’re going to hold Sales accountable for results, then we must ensure they’re being sent into battle fully equipped and prepared. I was discussing the rollout of an upgraded offering with a younger salesperson. His company has a neat technology platform that links together several solutions that can either be sold individually or as a suite of services. The salesperson is very excited about a major upgrade to one of those key offerings. He’s talked with enough prospects to discover that there is real demand for this service and HE is trying to figure out how to sell it. After a coaching phone call and a few minutes face to face, I concluded that HE hadn’t been properly briefed, trained, or even minimally equipped to sell this offering.

I sketched out these dozen questions that need to be answered for my guy and for anyone expected to sell this:

  1. What are the most common business issues/problems this new upgraded offering solves?
  2. Who buys these?  What kinds of companies and who at those companies?
  3. Whom should we be targeting?
  4. What materials do we need â€“ electronic and printed?
  5. What would you say on the phone to get someone’s attention and earn a next conversation, meeting, discovery session, demo?
  6. Who are we up against in the market?
  7. Why is this system better or different than others?  Why should someone choose this particular system to solve those issues in question #1 above?
  8. How do we best demo this? Please map the functionality of the system to the list of potential pains/issues from question #1 and provide language to use when questioning a prospect, presenting or conducting a demo.
  9. What types of deals/arrangements/terms are common in this space?
  10. What is market pricing?
  11. If we kick butt, how many of these can we sell?  What’s a typical deal worth?  Pricing strategies and options?
  12. Please provide  some compelling case studies and success stories from installations of this system and include ROI info whenever possible.

Asking a salesperson to go out and sell without first equipping him with these answers is akin to sending the baseball catcher behind the plate without a glove, mask, shin guards, chest protector and cup. Good luck with that.

If we’re going to ask Sales to be accountable for delivering the results, let’s be darn sure we set them up to succeed. And that means equipping them with everything necessary to head into battle and win.