One of the most difficult challenges for sales organizations around the world is creating and maintaining high levels of “situational fluency” for sales professionals. This has become increasingly difficult in a world of more rapid product innovation, development of new markets, more frequent product launches, and shrinking product life cycles. 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
Most sales organizations invest in product training and skills training, but that may not result in the ability to engage as a value-add consultant during the sales process. To be effective “consultative” sellers, salespeople need to have a reflexive ability to discuss each buyer’s specific business issues, what is causing them, and which capabilities are needed to address those challenges for the customer. There are two significant hurdles to solving this problem.
- Marketing and Product Marketing need to be directly involved in creating and maintaining messaging patterns and content that are solution-focused and customer-centric
- Sales process and skills training needs to incorporate solution-focused messaging patterns and content into the learning experience
- Sales Enablement needs to provide just-in-time access to relevant, consultative messaging patterns and content – typically directly from CRM based opportunities
- Ideally, technology-enabled certification is provided to ensure that every salesperson has a command of buyer business issues, why they occur, and how solutions address them
To that end, we have worked with leading global companies to create a foundation for high levels of situational fluency and conversation capabilities. This approach addresses each of the critical steps in developing and maintaining situational fluency for the sales team.
- Solution Messaging is a learnable, repeatable process that can be adopted by any marketing team. It enables marketers to accurately identify key buyer personas and their critical business issues and opportunities, prioritize the issues addressed by a solution and develop strategic market messaging for positioning the value of a solution to prospective buyers.
- Sales Tool Use Case Development is a consulting engagement where sales and marketing champions are guided to populate an example set of sales tools and templates for a typical customer opportunity. During sales training, these tools serve to illustrate the concepts and techniques in a business scenario that is highly relevant for the audience, thus removing one significant barrier to learning.
- Sales Tool Setup is a facilitated workshop that enables marketing and sales professionals to populate a series of sales tools with the specific content to drive effective sales conversations with their target customers. The tools capture critical business issues by role, their causes and associated capabilities for the common selling situations their sellers face. Sellers use these tools to become fluent in the language of their customers’ business environments and specifically how their products and services can help.
- Conversation Genius™ is an innovative game that ensures sales professionals have a “reflexive” ability to conduct expert conversations with buying sponsors (across specific industries and roles). This technology provides an easy way for salespeople to study specific business issues, their causes, and how solution capabilities address them. It also includes an innovative game interface that allows salespeople to attain conversational certification for specific buyers within industries.
These four steps can be applied successfully for virtually any sales methodology or sales model to ensure that the organization’s brand promise and key messages are completely understood and communicated consistently across the sales channel – and that every salesperson in your company is perceived as an expert to your buyers.