Key to each presentation is what your audience will remember after you leave. People are wired to remember stories, and experiences. Effective teams involve stories/narrations in their presentations. Here's how you can do it.
High performing sales teams reps high impact questions early in the cycle. They are quick at identifying opportunities that have the meat.
Here's my list of effective sales questions. NOTE: Don't try and memorize this. Feel the impact as you read this and make it a part of your sales lingo!
1. Who in the business is impacted the most, by this problem? Understand who’s ultimately going to pay the $$$.
2. Who in senior management is aware of this problem? How big is the problem? Does it have management attention?
There’s a LOT customer success team can learn from the following famous TED talk by Guy Winch. Teams can do a much better equipped in their jobs by improving their emotional hygiene. Specifically Guy cites four areas to improve upon:
Your message is the key to your competitive differentiation. A message that isn't delivered well or is confusing, can undue months of sales efforts. Good sales teams know that well. They take orals coaching seriously.
In the enterprise software business we often get only one change to prove our capabilities. There is no place for the runners up and the winner takes it all. While there's a lot written about the topic like this article I found, here's my ask of my presenters:
Effective speakers touch the core of their audiences. Their messages have a personal touch and they address what's on the audience minds head on. Most importantly, they empathize with their audience.
It all starts with knowing your audience. Sales teams can learn from these speakers and deliver more effective presentations. Check out the following video of president Reagan addressing the nation on the day the US space shuttle Challenger crashed.
I recently read a great book called "Just F*ing Demo!: Tactics for Leading Kickass Product Demos". Indeed, a well crafted agenda is the key to all good product demos for the exact same reason. It follows the YOU-THEM-YOU approach
The best sales teams are prepared to asks pointed questions, validate hypothesis early of the demonstration. It starts with having a compelling AGENDA slide that speaks to what's in it for YOU the customer. I wrote up on those lines:
Cost of Status Quo is the most important information you can capture when you are prospecting. Why? Most people will NOT make a decision to change if they don't quite understand the cost of the problem. Yes, your solution is important, and yes price is probably important too, but until a prospect agrees they have an issue, and they understand the cost of the issue, you will likely not sell them a thing.
How do you approach the subject of Cost of Status-quo? I am glad you asked.
Enterprise sales is all about establishing trust. We buy from those we trust. We trust those who care, talk their way, feel their pain.
Prospects believe those who talk and relate to them in a familiar jargon. Yet few in software solution sales speak the customer's language. We stay comfortable selling technical merits because that's what we know best.
From my days at NetSuite part of the Advertising Sales group
Running a profitable agency business has only gotten harder in recent years. Most large agencies routinely downsize every 4th quarter, just to balance for the lost margins. The business model has been under attack for some time now with loss of AOR business, the move away from long term Retainers to shorter fixed bid or T&M projects, fragmenting client relationships, and the worst of all - the decline in productions fees. Per a recent 4As survey, the average length of a client/agency relationship in the 1990s was 8 years -- but now, it's 3-years (if that). Coping with this new business model is making agency execs heads spin. The top three concerns I routinely hear from agency execs are:
Good advertising agencies retain top-notch creative talent by giving teams an conducive environment to channel their energies, and produce quality deliverables. More importantly they have excellent reporting processes to manage profit margins of their business model. Yet, even the most successful agencies are struggling to adapt to the rampant change and disruption in the industry. Advertising is a complex business, with many moving parts and high stakes.
Always have one.. Not having good answer here for an opportunity that's forecasted is asking for trouble with management :-). Selling is a delicate dance, got to check with your partner all times she's with you or looking somewhere else. The stakes are high, no silver medals to be won. Most importantly marketing has worked hard for the leads to come in. Make sales plans just out of sheer respect for just that painful process.
As a consumer, I shop at Amazon, ride with Uber, do vacations with AirBnB, book airlines on Expedia. We all have our favorites because these businesses makes the buying experience easy, predictable and enjoyable. The experience triumphs it all (even price to an extent). Enterprise software buyers have other reasons for rejecting a vendor's product. Having a competitive offering is just table stakes in this new consumer driven economy.
Pre-planning: You should start planning ~2-months in advance. By the time your team gets to the conference, you all should have the prospect hit list (memorized) by names, titles, backgrounds etc. Ideally, your team would have reached out to the hit list with targeted pitches and invites.
Here's my top three things to do:
1. Buy the attendee list and contact the important ones over phone well in advance. Incentive them to come to the booth, even better a 1:1 meeting.
2. Throw a private party: Most important part of a conference! Sponsor a private party.
3. Use a speaking engagement to meet prospects: Nothing builds credibility, sells better at conferences like a team member do a speaking gig.
Experienced sales teams do ONE thing well.. they are good at predicting column fodder opportunities early on.. This is critical in sales cycles where we work with a quarter end in focus. I recommend you view each opportunity (how-much ever promising it looks), critically from the column fodder lens. It might help you save critical time.. In the ideal case it will help you make a winning proposal and speed up the sales cycle. Here's an example:
Most sales teams have a listening problem. They want to be heard, as if they are on a stage... And that kills deals!! Here's a way to identify and fix this proactively.
1. Identify team mates who can't shut up: The experts on your team who want to prove themselves. Make a deal with them, they will only talk in reference to a related client problem we have solved. No deep end technology of solutions discussions, please!
2. Develop and agree upon the "shut up" signal. This is critical rule; It should be well publicized to the sales team, that non adherence to the rule should have disastrous consequences. My rule is, I want my team mates to look at me once each minute to get my clues.
Few sales teams land quality leads at conferences. Sales can do better. If they choose to "co-own" the event with marketing and take on accountability.
Start by selecting the right team on the floor. The common trait needed in each member on your team is ..
There is NO silver medal in sales! The winner takes it ALL. So I want to know my chances of winning quickly . Over the years, I've learned a technique that maximizes my chances of winning.. that I'd like to share with you.
It all comes down to SCOTSMAN:
Solution - Can we technically / physically meet the need?
Competition - Who is our real competition? Is it internal politics or an incumbent? Does my competition have an unfair advantage against me?
Only Me - what does the client perceive is unique about us?
Timescales - Is it too near or far for us to be involved now? Why will they buy from us now? What's the Compelling Reason to Act (CRA)?
Size - to small or to large to be viable for us? Can we handle this alone? Should we partner, or go alone?
Money - do they have sufficient real, spendable budget? When is the last time they spent money on something like you are selling to them?
Authority - what is the decision making process? Who is the influencer and who is the nay sayer? Who's opinion matters? Who does the main budget holder like?
Need - What are they looking to achieve? What is the cost of NOT doing anything
Only you know your teams strengths as they truly relate to your clients needs because you brought the team to this presentation party. When you (the rep) does the introduction, it helps thaw the ice for all people in the room, you can add empathy with stories on how these experts have helped your other clients in the past. It also cements your roles as the meeting facilitator, the time keeper and the trusted advisor who sees his clients time as precious and can tailor the agenda. I let the team members introduce themselves at a later point in time when they speak to their own sections of the presentation. That way the prospect clearly understands and remembers the role each player is having on the team and going forward.
The best of negotiators leave money on the table when it comes to nailing down their own compensations. We have a lot at stake so we keep negotiations to a minimum. We can do this differently. Here's how I like to do it..
1. Establish the stakes upfront. Agree on the CRA (Critical Reason to Act) during the interview process. Why this role, why me, and why now?
The good sales people don't punt on this Q. They make it an opportunity to discover, qualify more. Here's a good answer.
“I don’t know how much this will cost you. Every client situation is unique. However, other companies in similar situations, successfully achieving the results we’ve been talking about, tend to invest between X and Y. Can you see yourself falling somewhere in that range?”
To qualify prospects interest expect to get no more than 2-3 mins in person or 60-seconds over the phone. The Opportunity Checklist points to what we want to know in order to qualify the opportunity; structuring the conversation is a questioning process to efficiently elicit that information.
Winning lost business back is an art and a rhetoric. Here's how you can do it..
1. Wish the prospect well and request a debrief, learning session
2. On the call, listen a LOT.. Re-articulate the prospect'd reasoning, and propose a hypothetical win scenario for your service. Get agreement.
Q: How do I know if the Sales person knows the right people in an account?
Some prospects make the starting point of the discussion all about price. How does a Startup handle such situations?
This is typically indicative of either lack of authority to make decisions, or the more common column fodder syndrome where they are simply looking to do some price shopping and have already decided on the seller. They just want a lower quote to pit one against the competition.
Q: When should we hire a sales team, when do we grow the team? We have no pipeline. Should we hire a sales guy first to create a pipeline?
NOTE: The learnings from this blog site are not a substitute for a training course; training courses are not a substitute for working together in the field. If the content here resonates and you want to explore further, give me a call.