Research shows sellers are not showing situational fluency as they engage with buyers. In fact, according to Forrester and Hubspot research buyers indicate the following:
- 77% say salespeople don’t understand their issues and where they can help
- 70% claim salespeople are not prepared for the questions they ask
- 78% of executive buyers claim that salespeople do not have relevant examples or case studies to share with them
In three decades of experience with global sales organizations, we’ve found that there are two key dimensions to helping the sales organization become trusted advisors to buying sponsors. The first challenge is intellectual, and it involves a “knowledge pattern” that positions the sales person as a legitimate expert to the customer. Attaining this level of situation fluency requires marketing to address the following questions objectively:
- How clearly does a solution or offering definition capture the “problem state” facing the customer? That is, what specific problems, needs, and challenges is the customer experiencing?
- Are the causal factors or drivers for these problems identified clearly – what internal and external forces are actually creating the existing problem state for the customer?
- Is the business impact, from both an operational and financial perspective, clearly linked to the causal factors? To what extent do specific problems have a negative impact on the overall business? What are the consequences of not addressing the problem or need – or what are the consequences of delay?
- What capabilities are required to address the actual causes of the problem state? What does success look like?
- How does the “solution” provide the needed capabilities to address causes of the problem state?
Even when marketing aligns messaging content with customer issues as outlined above, the second challenge for marketing is how to ensure that sales professionals have immediate access to conversational “patterns” that can guide an effective dialogue with a prospect. To address this challenge, we have created technology that allows marketers to create interactive conversation guides by setting up Industry/Role templates that prompt sales conversations intelligently through:
- Critical business issues
- Causal factors (reasons)
- Drill down questions
- Capability linkages to solve the problem
These guides can be imbedded directly in CRM for instant access to conversational guidance for specific Industry/Role combinations, as illustrated below:
In addition, sales professionals need learning technology that enables them to practice and master the knowledge patterns that make them credible experts. Conversation Genius™, a mobile technology game, provides an easy way for salespeople to study specific business issues, their causes, and how solution capabilities address them, which gives them the ability to conduct expert conversations with buying sponsors.
This technology solution incorporates direct messaging input from marketing and enables new product and solution messaging to be instantly delivered to the sales organization. It also accelerates onboarding for new salespeople by creating rapid business fluency.
The combination of the right intellectual approach to conversational expertise, and matching technology to make application scalable across global sales organizations enable sales people to master consultative sales conversations.