While it may seem like an obvious action-item for the onboarding agenda, sales reps aren’t always trained on the customer. Rather, the tendency tends to be to start with the product. Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group comments on the topic: “We bring these people into our organizations and we start talking about US. Our product, our solution, our market. And what we should really be talking about is THEM.”
Our exclusive eBook, 22 Tips for Better Sales Readiness, offers tips to help ensure YOUR sales organization is doing just that. From onboarding on Day 1 to learning and coaching throughout the sales process, the excerpt below highlights three tips for preparing sales reps to stay focused on what really matters: the customer.
#1. Shift Your Product Focus to the Buyer
Some sales reps like your products SO much that they want to talk about them all the time. And if you’re products are cool, your prospects will listen – to a point. The thing is, rote memory alone won’t serve your reps well if they can’t translate it to solve problems. The challenge is ensuring your reps are ready to connect the product’s possibility to the customer’s reality.
Train reps to focus the conversation on the customer’s challenges, and reach agreement on the problem they are trying to solve. Then help them learn to shift the demo from being a review of features/functions to an in-context demonstration of the solution to that problem. Role play, simulations, and (when you think they’re ready) observed prospecting calls are great ways to reinforce these buyer-centric conversation skills.
#2. Prioritize Selling Skills
Are your reps proficient in the basics of selling – or do you just assume they are? Studies show that reps spend 19 hours per year on product training, but only 14 hours on actual sales training. But just because reps know a lot about your product, doesn’t mean they’re ready to sell it.
Don’t gloss over the cold calling, prospecting emails, corporate pitch, and face-to-face customer conversation aspects of your training. Ensure you’ve adequately covered, practiced, and coached around prospect engagement, value delivery, and plain old selling skills.
This “back to basics” approach can go a long way once reps are out in the field; after all, what good is product knowledge if you can’t articulate it in a way that moves deals forward?
#3. Know Who You’re Selling To
Are your reps prepared to demonstrate industry and persona acumen for target segments? Are they ready to have value-added conversation with unique audiences, and demonstrate that they understand their business and, more importantly, their challenges?
As Forrester’s Laura Ramos writes in a recent report, it’s time to humanize the sales process—and organizations need to support that transition through customer-focused sales enablement.
The report cites that 50% of B2B buyers want to work with suppliers who “understand my business, culture, and how to help me execute.” Part of sales readiness involves understanding the unique challenges of different buyers so you can arm reps with the messages that will engage and resonate with them most.
For more tips on preparing reps to sell efficiently, effectively, and productively, download the full eBook today.