First impressions come once. They will either open doors or close them. So how do you transform your sales organization into a team that keeps doors open by bringing credibility and intelligence to their engagements?
Start by skipping the PowerPoint and lengthy brochures to share over the Go-to-Meeting. Do yourself a favor — rather than relying on the presentation, try to listen, talk, and communicate instead. Like a lecture, a typical presentation rarely devotes much focus to the customer and their current situation, whether it’s in-person or online. Most of the focus, I dare say 90% of it, is describing your company, your solutions, and your products.
Transformation starts when relevant solutions are presented that solve real problems.
So, here are 3 things to do to ensure an effective sales call strategy that’s sure to get you invited back to the customer’s table.
1. Do Your Research
It’s proven to be ineffective to start talking about your products or services and not get the information that will allow you to solve your customer’s business problem. Some customers may not make the leap to understanding how your solution applies to their situation and whether they should seriously consider it. By taking the time to understand who your customer is, you increase your chances of making a connection with them by demonstrating how your product or services solve their problem.
A great resource to tap into when researching your target audience is your marketing department. Marketing spends a lot of time researching and gaining intel on target accounts and clients. Use them to get information on your target industry, regulatory challenges, and key business processes to better prepare yourself before going into a conversation. By taking the time to get to know who your prospect is before the call, you are better able to develop open-ended questions that will yield better answers and drive a better conversation.
2. Find the Right Listening to Talking Ratio
When you take your car into the shop, the mechanic doesn’t hand you a brochure. Nor does he go through a presentation lauding his credentials, products, and solutions. He talks to you. He asks probing questions about any problems you’ve noticed, listens to your answers, takes your car back for diagnostic testing, and then presents a solution.
A good rule to follow is the 40-40-20 rule — spend equal parts of your time listening to the customer’s problems and finding specific, tailored solutions for them. Use the last bit of time for the prospect’s questions and next steps. If your team is having trouble finding that balance, one way to get sales reps started on the right path is to arm them with target questions — ones that will help them start a dialogue that focuses on challenges in prospects' business processes.
3. Don’t Forget to Follow-Up
It goes without saying that sales reps have other duties too, but the most important thing to do after a sales call is to plan for a follow-up. Statistics indicate that 80% of sales are made after five follow-ups or more, but 92% of sales rep give up before the fifth message. By working closely with your marketing team, you can utilize your CRM or automation tools to create a follow-up strategy that allows you to implement sequences for a prospect’s next steps.
If you go to a meeting prepared to initiate conversation, you’re sure to make a great first impression and pave the way for your sales transformation. Remember that if you build a relationship with the customer first, the sale will follow.
Looking at a larger sales transformation? Check out 6 Tips to Transforming Your B2B Sales Organization.
This blog was originally posted in 2011. We've updated it with relevant research for today's sales organizations.