How to Keep Your Sales Team From Killing Your Brand & Your Bottom Line
Author: collin stewart
A lot of the current popular sales processes and methodologies, Chad Sanderson explains on a recent episode of the Predictable Revenue Podcast, are self-serving. They are designed from the perspective of the seller rather than the other way around.
Understandably, most sales organizations are looking for a tried and tested methodology that can offer them what they need to grow their business and create predictable revenue, allow them to forecast accurately, and give them data-driven insights – and there are a lot of methodologies out there that fit the bill.
The problem with these methodologies is that they create, train, and incentivize self-serving behaviours in salespeople, and these behaviors often leave a bad taste in the mouth of the prospect. It’s more about the sales person and getting a deal across the line than about engaging the buyer in an authentic way. We need to change that.
According to Chad, we need to make sure what we’re doing and how we’re training our teams helps them be human, and helps them focus on uncovering what the prospect finds valuable.
BROKEN SOCIAL CONTRACT
B2C has nailed the experiential sale. Take Netflix or Amazon, for example. These digital interfaces, these online representations of the brands, have been carefully crafted to give the people what they want when they want it. The platform is tailored to them, it learns about them.
And when a B2C shopper enters that digital consumer environment, they are entering into a social contract. A social contract that is ironically anti-social and devoid of any human connection at all. But that’s what we’re used to, we like it, and it works.
B2B is still an environment where people buy from people. This requires a different skillset from transactional, B2C sales. When you reach out to a cold B2B prospect – they have not willingly entered a consumer environment. They don’t want to be pitched to or sold. We, as sellers, need to appeal to the person as an individual, work with them, hear them, take them on a buying journey, and understand their buying vision. Unfortunately, we don’t train our salespeople to do this very often.
We need to train our reps to ask good questions, to do their research on a prospect, and provide them value first and foremost. We need to step away from the strict, step-by-step processes of traditional sales methodologies and just think about what it means to have an actual conversation with a fellow human being.
CUSTOMER-FOCUSED SALES PROCESS
In a customer-focused sales process, your funnel doesn’t change. You still have to identify your prospects, engage them, qualify them, educate them, close them, then implement your solution and, depending on your business, upsell, then rinse and repeat. It’s how you go about completing the first couple of steps that differ.
Let’s start with identifying your ideal customer profile. What are the companies and roles that you want to work with – that you can really help? If you nail this, you don’t have to personalize every message. You can do research and personalization at scale off of a role in an industry faster and in a way that resonates more effectively with individuals.
If you have an ICP and know what roles you’re going after, then it’s about preparation. This is where you really do your research on your ICP. What do they care about? What challenges are they facing? How can you engage them in a conversation that shows them you know them, and that you have something of value that will maybe help solve some problems?
Next, it’s time to engage. Make sure your salespeople, when they prospect, are prospecting with your buyer’s perspective in mind. Teach them how to uncover the prospect’s evolving vision of what the optimal solution is.
Help them put together a plan with the prospect not to get to the close or to implementation, but to get to a point where the prospect realizes the value of what you provide and sees that you can help them accomplish their goals.
A lot of sales orgs tend to measure their salespeople and focus on number of dials, number of meetings, and pipeline generated. These are important metrics to track, but equally important is your initial approach.
If all we focus on are hard metrics, we’re teaching our team to understand internal processes, data, and metrics, and we’re not enabling them to have the types of conversations buyers actually want to have.
RESEARCHING YOUR ICP
It only takes 15-20 mins to start the customization process specific to your ICP. You want to look for 2 things:
- Credible, 3rd-party resources that will tell you what that role in that industry is trying to achieve; and
- Uncover the people, process, and technology challenges that are keeping that from happening.
From your research, create a prompter with questions to ask. These questions demonstrate that you understand what your prospect is facing. Then, come up with a few value stories that detail how you’ve helped another company similar to your prospect, and what the outcome was when you helped them.
Chad doesn’t believe in set scripts – he much prefers giving his reps room to be human but preparing them with a framework or guide. If you don’t provide them prompters then their cognitive load will be split when speaking to a prospect. It’s split between coming across as confident, knowing what they’re saying, handling objections.
Without proper preparation, these moving parts get in the way of human connection because the rep is more concerned with what they’re doing than what they’re hearing.
Another downfall of ill preparation is the potential blowback from prospects. It’s a bad look for your company if your sales rep doesn’t know what they’re talking about or doesn’t know the prospect.
But it’s also a bad look for the rep themself – and in B2B people don’t buy from companies, they buy from people. In a crisis, people revert back to their most basic state of preparedness. Make sure for your reps that’s a state of preparedness that will enhance your brand experience, not hurt it.
THE IDEAL FIRST TOUCH
Chad assets that the first touch should be all about providing value to your prospect, and not have anything to do with your company. This could be a Gartner or Forrester report, an industry trends report, a podcast, etc. Make sure you point out something in the content that you think is relevant to the role they’re in. And remember – you can automate this.
As the sequence goes on, you can build on that and highlight some of the problems you believe they might be facing, and ask, “If you haven’t solved that, let’s talk. If you have, I’d love to know how you did it.” Continue to prime their memory. Show them you know them and that you’re trying to help them solve their problems, not pitching them or sending them a bunch of stuff they didn’t ask for.
The data shows that it takes between 15 and 17 touches, on average, over 22-24 business days to convert outreach to a conversation. The aim of your sales reps shouldn’t be to prospect to book a meeting, but rather to gather information.
Is the prospect facing problems you can solve? If not, what are they worried about? Are you talking to the right person? Show the prospect at every touch that you understand them and that you’re not assuming they want to buy from you.
FIXING THE BROKEN HANDOFF PROCESS
In a traditional, salesperson-focused sales methodology, the handoff between the SDR and AE can be one of the most painful parts of the buyer journey. Ideally, if your team used the right framework and could stick to it, the SDR would have some back and forth with a prospect, get all of the qualification criteria validated, and set them a discovery meeting with an AE.
The SDR would leave detailed notes for the AE in a CRM, then the AE would hop on that call and convert the conversation into an opportunity. More commonly, though, the SDRs don’t get a lot of clarity from their brief interactions with prospects, and orgs don’t implement CRMs in a way that makes people fond of, or good at, using them.
While you strive towards this idyllic handoff scenario, Chad recommends that an SDR have a 10-15 minute conversation with the prospect to get those questions answered and to make the prospect aware of what’s to come. The SDR should over-communicate, especially in a digital environment, that they will be looping in an expert to paint a clearer picture of how you could work together.
Don’t let the prospect guess or assume. Then the SDR can leave those detailed notes for the AE, and they can pick up the conversation with a prospect who knows they’re being taken care of. A well-designed handoff process sees increasing deal sizes, increases in deal velocity, and increases in forecast accuracy.
As a salesperson, you are a representative of your company. Especially when we’re talking about outbound where you may be your prospect’s first introduction to your company, the impression you make is very important. And according to Chad Sanderson, a lot of sales methodologies are incentivizing salespeople to get this wrong.
Chad’s framework reminds salespeople of all the important things we need to consider when designing and executing a customer-focused sales process. It allows us to be authentic and acts as a conversational GPS so we can stay focused on uncovering our prospect’s pain points and goals.
More strategies for building a customer-focused buying journey: Rev Ops: The Missing Link That Will Increase Your Revenue by 26%
More on researching your ICP: How to Get The Attention of Any Decision-Maker to Expand Your Sales Within An Enterprise Account
Dale Dupree talks about how to create experiences that cause familiarity, fuel relevance, drive curiosity and give your prospect a REASON to meet with you.
Doug C. Brown, CEO of Business Success Factors, explains the process to avoid common mistakes when building your sales organization for the first time.
An efficient sales process that consistently gets qualified prospects can quickly hone in on the prospects that are more worthwhile to chase.