What makes a sales meeting valuable to a prospect? It’s when the sales person clearly understands the prospect’s business issues and can clearly articulate how to address them. So how often does this happen? According to the latest research from Forrester, in an average of no more than 1 in 8 sales meetings...
Just think about that for a moment. The rest of the time, the sales person is either demonstrating a dramatic lack of understanding of the prospect’s business issues, or failing to do anything useful to advance the prospect’s buying decision process. And probably irritating the heck out of the prospect at the same time.
Expenses Up, Margins Down
Scott Santucci set out the implications and the consequences in the recent Forrester Technology Sales Enablement forum. He concluded that for most companies, their selling system is simply not adapting quickly enough to accommodate their prospect’s changing business priorities.
He points out that in every year since 2000, sales expenses have been growing faster than revenues - while average margins have declined by 26%. If technology companies want (who wouldn’t?) to achieve sustainable, profitable growth then the industry clearly isn’t going about it in a very effective way.
Time to Change
None of us can afford to let the trend continue. Technology sales and marketing is having to reinvent itself to adapt to the dramatic changes in B2B buying behaviour. One thing is clear: the old approach is broken. Expecting our sales people and marketers to sell or market harder won’t resolve this.
So what’s the answer? “Solution Selling”? Well, although solution selling hasn’t been completely discredited, I have become convinced that it’s not the magic wand either. And clearly no right minded prospect with an intractable business issue to address is interested in your so-called features, advantages or benefits any more.
Focus on Outcomes
At the end of the day, the only one who can call something a “solution” is the person or organisation who had the problem in the first place. Vendors can’t credibly claim that they offer solutions without first identifying the problem and why their prospect can’t afford to ignore it.
We’re moving towards a world where increasingly well-informed buyers aren’t interested in buying vendor-hyped “solutions” any more. They are interested in achieving outcomes. Outcomes that help them to resolve a business issue that they cannot afford to ignore. And they are interested in achieving those outcomes in ways that minimise risk and accelerate time-to-resolution.
Are Your Sales Actions Advancing the Buying Process?
So I’m curious - Are your sales and marketing messages focusing on your ability to help your prospects achieve desired business outcomes? What percentage of your sales meetings achieve a positive outcome when looked at from the prospect’s perspective? How can be sure that your sales person’s actions are advancing the prospect’s buying process?
And, even if your key messages are increasingly focusing on outcomes, are your sales actions consistent with your messages? If you’re not paying the proper attention to this today, how can you be confident that your figure isn’t 1 in 8 or worse? Those were average figures, remember...
Building Scalable Businesses
Are you trying to create a repeatable, scalable and predictable sales and marketing machine within your own organisation? Or wondering how to make your sales and marketing actions more valuable? Then you’ll probably enjoy reading our latest white paper “10 Steps to Scalability” - you can download it here.