September 8, 2011

The Sales Team Needs Case Studies and Stories

Happy Day 3 of the 2011 Selling Season. Thanksgiving is 11 weeks from today. Keep sprinting. You’ll make it. And you will be amazed at what you accomplished by focusing like a laser between now and then. Run hard now. Rest later.

I had planned to write about individual business plans, but that is being pushed aside. In the past couple of days I’ve had conversations with a client president and a highly talented new hire at another company. Both meetings were incredibly energizing because we got into the nuts and bolts of new business development selling. Even though the two situations being discussed could not have been more different, both conversations ended with the same powerful conclusion:

The sales team needs case studies and success stories!

I promise not to turn this into yet another rant on the importance of The Sales Story. But case studies and client success stories are certainly an important component of our overall “sales story” and a critical weapon in our arsenal.

Next to being able to “get in” and in front of key strategic target prospects, I can’t think of anything more important to a competent new business salesperson than being well-versed in a variety his/her company’s case studies.

A sales hunter prepared with a list of pain and opportunity seeking probing questions is a thing of beauty. We can accomplish so much when we ask great questions well. We show we’re experts. We position ourselves as problem-solvers. We create a sales conversation instead of a monologue. We communicate that it’s not about us, but rather about the prospect and their issues. AND we learn what we need to so when it is our turn to talk/present/sell, we know where to go and what to share!

Sales leaders must ensure that the sales team is armed with a working knowledge of the company’s best client success stories. There is nothing that makes a sales coach smile bigger than seeing a salesperson do a masterful job uncovering opportunity and key information and then conversationally sharing stories of how his company has helped other clients with similar situations.

Sales leader: If we asked a random sample of your sales team to articulate five great case studies that present and contextualize a variety of your company’s solutions, could they do it?

Salesperson: How comfortable are you with your case study playbook? If you uncovered issues and opportunities during a sales conversation with a major prospect, how competent are you at sharing examples of how your company has solved those issues for others?

Simple Case Study Formula:

A) Your client’s situation when you met them (issues, problems, challenges, needs, desires, opportunities)

B) What your company did (the process, the service, the solution sold)

C) The result for your client

It’s worth the effort to nail down case studies that represent the full array of your company’s offerings. And it is the sales leader’s job to ensure every single salesperson can use these stories appropriately, in conversation. We should not need a handout or a projector to share case-studies and client success stories when selling. We have got to be able to do it as part of a dialogue.

Now go read two more great blog posts from other gurus more sophisticated than I am. Then get off the internet and back to new business development. It’s Selling Season!