Question: Has your Sales Organisation systematised a process for your sales executives to identify future-based opportunities and/or risks that customers may face – and are your sales executives strategic in their thinking and able to identify future-based opportunities and/or risks that customers may face?
According to our research at ThinkSales Global, only 24.5% of Sales Organisations have a systematised process in place for their sales executives to identify future-based opportunities and/or risks that customers may face.
In addition, 25.3% of companies rate their confidence as Outstanding that their sales executives are strategic in their thinking and able to identify future-based opportunities and/or risks that customers may face.
The ‘high-value, deep conversation’ problem
“No business buys a solution for a problem they don’t have. When a prospect comes to the table and says: ‘we have a problem’, then you’re both on the same side of the table when it comes time to solve it. On the other hand, if they’re at the table because you’re persistent or charming, the only problem they have is: How do I get out of here?” – Seth Godin, Marketing legend
So, how do you ensure your customers are on the same side of the table as your sales executives?
This is one of the biggest challenges Sales Organisations face, and because of it, when it comes to developing accounts, sales professionals need to be pursuing deeper, more strategic business conversations. Which we know is much easier said than done.
According to a McKinsey&Company survey, three trends in the current B2B sales universe have taken hold:
- Customers have become more demanding, insisting on both off-the-shelf products and more complex, customised solutions – with different levels of sales support. Companies accustomed to selling products and walking away are being forced to prove how they add real value.
- Companies servicing larger managed accounts are exploring lower-cost ways to make clients happier and to generate sales growth.
- Organisations large and small are following the lead of business-to-consumer (B2C) retailers such as Amazon.com by making smarter use of customer data to predict behaviour, drive sales and deepen relationships.
How many sales executives, apart from the most senior and experienced, can deliver insights that align with these key trends – and how will your Sales Organisation develop this information to progress each conversation in a way that delivers real value?
Build your sales team’s expertise
Business leaders and decision makers care about three key things:
- Managing risks
If you understand each customer’s industry and their clients, your sales team can bring them the insights and expertise that will help them with their strategic initiatives, that will provide game-changing business value and that will assist in managing risk.
However, unless each of your sales executives are seasoned sales professionals with years under their belt in your current industry, chances are they have a lot to learn. And for the majority of sales executives who are less experienced, the thought of building expertise can be daunting.
This means it can’t be left to each individual sales executive, but must become a Sales Organisation-led culture. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you help your sales team build its industry expertise and business acumen:
- Become subject-matter experts. While it is desirable to have knowledge of your customers’ businesses it is not always necessary. Most clients won’t expect your sales executives to be an expert on their businesses, however they will expect them to be an expert in yours.
- Understand the good and the bad. The quickest way to develop expertise is for each sales executive to deeply understand the application of your offering inside each customer’s business. To enhance this understanding, it’s important to understand both successful and unsuccessful implementations.
- Lead your customers on a journey. If you can understand what your break-through customers are doing with your solution, you can help other clients envision their innovation and risk management. This requires an understanding of the circumstances that result in positive-versus-negative experiences with your solution across a number of different customer environments. With this knowledge in hand, your sales executives can begin to build the expertise needed to advise your customers on how they themselves can achieve the best results. Your sales team can also help them to avoid risks associated with selecting the wrong product and to avoid scenarios that could result in poor implementation and poor results.
Selling value to the C-Suite begins with three key steps that need to be instilled across your sales force, from your sales manager through to each sales executive on your team.
- Know how you create value, and what you offer the client. Your team is speaking to a C-Suite executive. Like you, they’re short on time, and they need to see how you can create value for their company. If your team wants to grab and hold their attention, they need a clear idea of who you are, what you do, and how you make a difference. In order to tick those boxes, they each need a firm understanding of your business, the customer’s business, their competitors, the market and the challenges they face. In other words, they need to be experts.
- See the world through their eyes. If your sales executives don’t possess the necessary acumen to step out of their role and needs, and into the customer’s shoes, they won’t be able to lead the conversation. Understand the C-Suite executive is interested in talking about business. Your sales force needs to keep up – and even lead where they can.
- If your team brings real expertise to the table, you won’t need to manage them. You’re not just selling a product or service, but a solution, and your sales executives need to carry this through to the end. If a customer is dealing with a subject-matter expert, they’ll trust your organisation to get it done.
Assess the health of your sales organisation
A systematised process for sales executives to identify future-based opportunities and/or risks that customers may face, as well as the ability to think strategically to be able to identify those future-based opportunities and/or risks are two of 322 measures of a world-class Sales Organisation.
How does your Sales Organisation stack up? Find out by taking the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.
This first-of-its-kind 360-degree gap analysis report enables your Sales Leadership team to assess its strengths and detect weaknesses and impediments to revenue growth across the five pillars of a high performing sales organisation:
- Competitive Strategy
- Customer Engagement
- Sales Talent
- Sales Management
- Sales Enablement
Click here for more information on the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.