Earlier this month, I shared some insight around a sales tactic that builds to the discussion around a product or service. Solution selling or innovation selling requires a consultative approach, which can be taught through “People, Process, Product.” Consultative selling is important because, as mentioned, B2B clients are typically 60% through their purchasing process when they first contact their vendor or partner. However, without a solid marketing strategy, marketing plan, and clear messaging to customers and salespeople, it is difficult for salespeople to get to the consultative stage in a sales engagement.
Purely relying on an outbound sales team is flawed.
Yet I still witness large companies selling into the small-to-mid-market space continue to press on their outbound sales teams to generate leads, and then take those leads through the sales process. Startups and small business fall for this strategy because it seems like it works since the “big guys” are doing it. The “big guys” seem to be successful because they built their business before the proliferation of the Internet and social technology. They have accounts to call and sell to because they have been in business for decades. But even with account-based-marketing organizations, phone calls and random drop-ins are not as effective as they were in the 90s or early 2000s (if at all effective.)
To reiterate, B2B customers are more than half way to their decision by the time they talk to a sales rep.
If they can’t find you through media and marketing channels, no form of noise from a salesperson (calls, drop-ins, or emails) will reverse or slow down a customer’s decision-making process. This is because it is actually difficult to change someone’s mind. If your company is found, the messaging better be clear, from all forms of marketing and the salesperson.
Marketing is the base of People, Process, Product.
Marketing is the base of selling.
For an effective sales process in a solution or innovative sale, the marketing strategy must encompass a two-pronged messaging approach. First and foremost, messaging to potential customer. Next, messaging to the salespeople. While it seems elementary that the salespeople should understand the product, service, or offerings their company provides, it is the messaging that they miss. In other words, advertising and promotions prompt a customer to select your company as a viable option, but the salesperson’s positioning, verbiage, and understanding of the offering creates an unclear picture to the potential client, which can cause confusion.
Messaging from the salesperson to the client must start with the salesperson understanding why the customer is considering their company and offering in the first place. While sales training and helps a salesperson understand the offering, it does not necessarily help the salesperson understand how the customer is thinking. The salesperson needs to think like the customer or a business decision-maker in order to effectively position the offering throughout conversations, presentations, and proofs of concept. Thus, the advertising and promotions department should be involved in sales training. Ideally, the messaging from your company is consistent from the advert to the people in your company.
Did this get you thinking? Talk to us and let’s find out if your marketing and sales strategies are aligned.