Traits of Top Salespeople

"Top salespeople are passionate: they love what they do and are excited about their product or service."

Tag: marketing

Marketing And Sales Is Like Football

Marketing And Sales Is Like Football

In a complex B2B sale, the salesperson’s job is to enhance and personalize the marketing message for the buyer. The salesperson is supposed to deliver the information from the company to the decision-maker in a way that effectively shows the product and company in the best light for that particular prospect. 

The easiest way to show this is via a vector diagram. While I understand that vector mathematics may be scary for some readers, they are not that difficult to comprehend.

Figure A: Marketing message for commodity products.

As we can see in Figures A and B, the goal is to convince the prospect that the company’s product is the best product for this purchase. Marketing has to deliver content to all prospects, so it cannot perfectly align the message to the specific goals of the individual prospect. Also, since Marketing has no knowledge of which competitors are in play in that particular situation, they cannot efficiently deliver traps in most cases. Therefore, we see that the messaging from Marketing is not the shortest distance from your company to the finish line of winning the decision by the prospect.

In Figure A, the product sold is a commodity-type product. In this case, the marketing message is entirely adequate to convince the prospect to buy the product. Even though the message is not perfectly aligned to the prospect’s specific needs, the product’s benefits are sufficiently understood to get across the line.

In Figure B this is not the case. In Figure B, the message is still not perfectly aligned to the prospect’s needs, and it is not adequate to make a decision. It may not be enough information, and it also may not be the correct type of information. Therefore, a salesperson needs to fill in the information to cover the gap.

Figure B: Marketing and sales message for non-commodity products.

This information gap is why it is so important for salespeople to exist. They need to take the information that is created by the marketing department and efficiently deliver it to the prospect. Great salespeople need to package information so that the prospect can make the desired decision. 

It is impossible for the marketing department to create a targeted value pitch to every prospect. The more efficient the salesperson is in packaging this information to control the buying process, the more products that the salesperson will sell and the higher his or her commission.

The above analysis is not to give the marketing department a break in delivering fantastic content. It should be the goal of all marketing departments to provide content that can be easily repackaged and tuned to the needs of the trap-setting salesperson. The marketing department needs to acknowledge that they are unable to convince the majority of the prospects to make a favorable decision and understand that if they work with imaginative salespeople, sales will come more frequently.

Let me try to explain this with some sports metaphors. In American football, the quarterback and team don’t go straight down the field. They do a series of plays going left and right but always trying for a net forward position. Some plays will be a run to the left, a pass to the right, or a run up the middle. 

Football is very analogous to a sales campaign. The amount sideways that the player travels doesn’t matter. It is only the forward progress that matters. The goal of the football team is to advance the ball to cross the end line, and it doesn’t matter if that is through the middle of the field or in either corner.

Your goal is the same as the football team. You are responsible for getting the ball into the end zone or, more accurately, for closing the order. In football, the offensive team has the goal of moving the ball down the field to the touchdown. They have this goal if they receive the ball on their 49-yard line. They also have this goal if they receive the ball on their 2-yard line. The goal doesn’t change based on the position of the ball on the field. It also doesn’t change for you based on the quality or source of the lead.

By accepting that you cannot use the excuse of a bad marketing department in your success or lack thereof, you will become more successful. Your job is to take the leads that you receive and make them orders. Your job is to take the content that you receive from the marketing department and make it understandable and persuasive to your prospect. The ultimate failure is yours, not your marketing department. It is your job on the line. It is your commission on the line. You must take what marketing has prepared and use it to be successful.

It is not the fault of your marketing department if your literature and website are not perfect matches for your prospects. You need to bridge the gap between the standard marketing message and the fine-tuned and tailored message that will resonate with your prospect.

Take the ball and get it down the field to score. That is what you are paid to do. The great quarterbacks of the NFL do not complain that they always get the ball on their own 15-yard line. They put a plan together and do everything in their power and the power of their team to score a touchdown. You need to do the same. You need to do the same thing because there is no crying in sales.

Don’t Send Your Prospect Your Sales Presentation

Don’t Send Your Prospect Your Sales Presentation

Almost daily, you are presenting to your prospects from one of your favorite presentation decks. The ubiquitous question at the end of the presentation is, “Can you send me your deck?”

Don’t do it.

While you should say that you will be sending the deck, you shouldn’t do it. Few things are so poorly understood as a well-created deck presentation without a narrative.

An excellent presentation has a minimum of words and explanations on each slide. It contains a few bullet points with maybe an appropriate image or graphic. The content of the presentation is all with the speaker, and the slides are merely there to give examples or prompt the discussion.

If your slides are appropriately made, how in the world would a prospect understand the message without you there to narrate? Worse is if those slides are forwarded to someone that wasn’t in the original audience for the live presentation.

A much more convincing document is a Word (or similar) document that has the slide images embedded into the material, but the “script” is also included. The script can be well-edited with appropriate marketing language and messaging. The end result is a superior document to the original presentation.

Here is a thumbnail of a document that uses this technique. It guides the user through the slides and uses the slides as images to give credence to the written explanation. This is a far superior way to share your slides with your prospect.

Marketing can help but shouldn’t be an excuse

Unfortunately, as with all great things that salespeople have to do, it is quite likely that your marketing department won’t create this document for you. It is one of those things that you will likely have to create to set yourself up for success.

If your marketing department will not create this document for you, it is not an excuse. Salespeople need to understand that they are the last line of defense. It is up to all salespeople to do whatever is ethically required to win the deal. Don’t make excuses. Don’t take the easy way out. Just get it done.

Salespeople should not be afraid to create this document. While it would be helpful for your marketing department to build the foundations of the delivered document, the salesperson should be free to customize the end result.

The reasons for customizations are simple, and marketing departments cannot expect to be able to react. The reasons include:

  1. A specific question or side conversation that happened during the presentation should be further expanded in the written overview document.
  2. Many sales presentations are combinations of other slide decks or a subset of a library of slides. There is no way to know what a finished slide deck will be for any given prospect or any given sales team.

While the challenges are real, marketing departments can mitigate this issue with a bit of thought and effort.

For the first issue above, the sales team wants to react to a specific situation that occurred in the meeting. The marketing department could create a standard “handout” document, but allow individual sales teams to customize it as needed.

In the other situation of a library of slides, the marketing department can easily create a similar library of descriptions. Then the sales team can quickly combine the standard pieces of text to create a handout document customized to the particular prospect.

If you are inspired to bring the handout document to your meeting, resist this urge. Most information handed out in a meeting gets thrown away almost immediately. While your followup handout document may also be thrown away, at least it will happen several hours or several days later, allowing your name to be on the prospect’s mind again. This is far superior to having your marketing message thrown in the restroom trash for the bio-break that happened immediately after your meeting. 

Header Photo by ttreis (Pixabay)
Are salespeople necessary in the Internet age?

Are salespeople necessary in the Internet age?

The question is often asked, “Are salespeople necessary in the Internet age?” The theory is that with the ability of the Internet to allow for massive research of technologies and products, what role does the salesperson have in the modern economy.

I will cut to the chase on my answer and then explain it later: The CFO can eliminate his sales force only if all of the following is true:

  • Your product is so simple and your relationship with the buyer is so straightforward that no Internet research is required. In other words, think of things that you buy in a mall or a grocery store (although I will explain an important caveat later in this post).
  • You have a commanding market share – probably in excess of 50%.
  • Your VP of Manufacturing and your VP of Supply Chain has told you that they cannot handle any increase in orders.

In every other case, your sales force is ABSOLUTELY necessary.

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