The discipline of "sales enablement" has become a top priority for many enterprise businesses. Depending on the definition you embrace, the idea is that smart companies equip their customer-facing staff with the necessary buyer insights, narratives, and sales collateral/tools to engage in meaningful conversations with buyers and customers to progress the dialog toward a sale.
I spoke at a Business Marketing Association event in southern California in January 2015 where we discussed one of the biggest challenges facing modern B2B sales organizations: lack of value proposition in their "sales bag" that is both differentiated and quantifiable (financially speaking).
So sales organizations show up to B2B sales conversations talking about features, specifications, awards and "value" from the seller (brand) perspective -- not the customer perspective. My friend Scott Santucci led the sales enablement practice at Forrester Research for 6 years and Scott points to the fact that buyers determine what is valuable -- not sellers.
Author/consultant Keith Pigues (panel speaker also at the BMA event) has book called "Winning with Customers" and asks B2B executives two questions:
Q1: Do your customers make more money doing business with you as opposed to your competitors?
Q2: How do you know?
There is an entire methodology behind what he calls the DVP (differential value proposition) -- the ability to quantify whether you are helping your customers either increase revenue or reduce costs. After all, businesses are in business to make money -- period. To appeal to the CFO and other wallet owners in a B2B sales, you must quantify a differentiated value proposition in financial terms. Only then can Marketing "communicate value" and Sales "sell value."
Want to know more?
Check out this LinkedIn Pulse post I provided on Feb 3:
Need help getting this right? Ask me.
Personal selling skills, that is: an individual's ability to sell 1-on-1 in person or over the phone, are going to become noted as one of the most valuable skills in the marketplace. They already are in fact, but have not yet been held up as such.
Automated marketing has worn out its welcome: banner blindness, single digit email open rates, bland copy by a flood of inexpert writers...all have contributed to the end of pushbutton marketing's effectiveness. This may be acceptable as a lead generation tool, but when it comes to qualifying and selling, the return to personal selling, rather than the panacea of automated marketing promising to keep topic matter expert business owners safely away from the scary necessity of *actually talking to people*, is what will succeed going forward.
I think we can agree that consultative selling has pushed out traditional features-and-benefits-based selling in the complex sale situation. Many brands of consultative selling exist but the essential process is the same. The learning issue seems to come down to finding and choosing a trainer you are comfortable with. This coach must not be the salesperson's boss, because telling the full truth to your boss can be a career-limiting move. Employees must feel free to share complete details of what is actually happening with their coach without fear of repriasal--or they won't get the benefit of coaching.
For training, video is an excellent resource. When it comes to repetitive, non-individual-specific concepts and technical information which can be conveyed by automated knowledge transfer, video training is effective.
Business owners and executives are also finally arriving at the understanding that there is no quick fix for sales training. A short technical sales training seminar will not do the trick: employees may get a short term "rush", but in a couple weeks will be back in their old comfort zone and performance limitations. Sales training must be understood as an ongoing investment and process. Many months of consistent effort, training and experience are required even before one can say a salesperson has been sufficiently prepared to deal with the big bad world.
For larger sales forces, one or more dedicated trainers are necessary. If a company tries to have a sales manager who also has a personal revenue quota, that individual will likely fail because they cannot split their effort between selling and coaching.
I have much more to say on this topic but not the time to here as this has already taken me around 30 minutes.
Here are many interviews with sales industry experts you can listen to which echo what I've said here:
First you have to have a great reputation for looking after your employees, suppliers and customers. This can be a delicate balance I know. You can be one sided like let's say Amazon tends to treat their customers as King at the expense of taking advantage of suppliers and employees. Would this be a good practice?
Even if it seems a company looks like they are getting ahead do you think this will be good for a long period of time? I think not, in time competitors will come along and take the good employees and the suppliers away from and company that would practice this kind of business structure. Eventually it will collapse from within. I'm not saying they are doing that but just using them for an example, anyone that did is building their business on quicksand. Back to the question, run your business on referrals, referrals that draws the best employees, referrals that draws the best suppliers, and referrals from happy customers, this is the trend and any software tools that will help you do this buy them, call me.....Ken Queen