I sell to some really big companies. One rule I established when I founded my business is that sales is about listening and collaborating, not presenting. The reason was that I had watched cost of sales at many companies skyrocket due to huge investments preparing elaborate sales presentations that often fell flat and pursuing deals that should have been disqualified or re-framed early on.
Even with the best qualification questions and inside sales efforts, a sales rep walking into an initial customer meeting is going to have, at best, a superficial understanding of the customers’ need. If they start by bulldozing through pre-prepared slides, they are likely to a) waste time on topics irrelevant to the customer b) miss the opportunity to gain a better understanding and c) fail to establish a collaborative relationship with the customer.
If you’re a marketer creating content and tools for a direct sales force, ask yourself if the information and asset you’re giving them help sales people to:
- Ask questions that both demonstrate their expertise and help them gain greater insight into customer needs
- Facilitate in-depth discussions that are positive and valuable experiences for customers
- Articulate how what they’re selling is directly relevant specific customer situations they discover during the meeting