If you were to approach a veteran sales leader and ask how the sales landscape has changed since they entered the industry, you’d be pretty sure to receive the response, “It’s gotten harder.”
The Secret to Selling Seamlessly
Rick McCutcheon, Certified Sales Professional, Business Mentor and Microsoft MVP, says that the average buyer is somewhere between 60%-80% through the buying process before he or she reaches out to a seller. By the time they speak with you, your potential customers have probably already formed an opinion about your company and your solution. These days, you enter the sales process in the middle of an uphill battle.
In 2008, Dr. Matthew Dixon and Dr. Brent Adamson led a global study examining sales productivity, its drivers and its inhibitors. They found that when selling complex solutions, like marketing automation, the most effective method is aggressive education.
So, let’s learn about education.
Teaching Your Customer
Research shows that bringing a unique, provocative perspective to a customer’s business, rather than a solution’s features, has the highest rate of success in a sale. The most successful ISVs and SIs present their customers with new ways to make or save money – often, they just happen to include using the solution they’re selling.
Before you teach, you have to learn. Having a finely-tuned sense of your customer’s objectives, value-drivers and business challenges will help you position your pitch effectively. When you do pitch, Dr. Dixon and Dr. Adamson recommend introducing your solution at the end. The majority of the presentation should focus on your customer’s business, articulating why they need your solution long before presenting it.
As a Partner, you have proprietary insights into the Microsoft ecosystem, which gives you an advantage. You can leverage those insights to challenge your customers’ ways of thinking and highlight how Microsoft’s marketing automation solutions will create value for their businesses.
Refining Your Message
Is your company “an industry leader with decades of experience empowering global customers to achieve their business objectives through award-winning solutions and unmatched value?”
So is every other SI, ISV, investment firm and used car dealership.
Your company – and the solution you’re selling – is unique. To see the value you offer your prospects, you must be able to articulate why that is.
According to Dr. Dixon and Dr. Adamson, the best sellers promote their solution’s undervalued capabilities instead of the overly-popular ones. Because the sellers’ primary goal is to educate their customers, exploring underappreciated weaknesses in their customer’s business that the sellers’ solutions address builds a strong foundation for future education.
The real solution you’re selling, though, is changed behavior. Remember, we’re here to challenge our customers’ thinking. By calculating the ROI of behavioral change, you can show them the value of acting on their new perspective.
Because sales automation is a complex solution, it is just as hard to buy as it is to sell. There’s a certain tension, therefore, that’s inherent to negotiations surrounding its sale and implementation.
By challenging your customer’s thinking – and pressing your point – you can ride the tension toward a resolution that favors you. You’re defining the value you’re offering your customer, so you’re also in a position to press them on price.
In their book “The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation,” Dr. Matthew Dixon and Dr. Brent Adamson write that most salespeople are trained to defuse tense conversations when they should be working to maintain them.
They write that a decades-long corporate culture that values customer-centricity has led to salespeople who have been trained to “concede … way too easily.”
After all, BayGroup International found that 75 per cent of procurement officers believe that negotiating power always lies in salespeople’s hands. If the power is there, why not use it?
By continuing to improve your understanding of the sales process, you can, in turn, improve your success as an SI. Microsoft’s customer success managers recommend spending part of each day immersed in the ecosystem so that you can be up-to-date on everything Dynamics.
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