Nothing Happens Until Someone Sells Something - Best Practices to Enabling Your Sales Channel to Effectively Sell Your Products PDF Print E-mail

This week’s GrandView guest post is by Tom Evans , from Lûcrum Marketing and brings over twenty years of successful hi-tech business experience helping start-ups as well as Fortune 500 companies create and launch winning products.. He is recognized for building product management and product marketing organizations from the ground up that develop market-driven technology solutions, create compelling go-to-market strategies and build strategic partnerships that drive revenue growth in the US and global markets.

by Tom Evans

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Twitter: @compellingmktr

My experience in product marketing has shown me that we in the product marketing role quite often are not doing enough to help our sales team or sales channel be successful.  Our typical approach to helping is to provide a new salesperson with some marketing collateral and a product presentation and then wish them luck as they look for prospects and try to close deals with anyone that listens.  This approach is sufficient for the star salespeople as they intuitively know how to talk with the right potential buyers about their problems and then show these buyers how to solve these problems with their products or services.  But unfortunately, this only represents about 20% of salespeople.  The other 80% of sales people need more training and coaching to be successful and we as product marketers need to help them be successful.  This is the process of “Sales Enablement”.

What happens when we don’t engage in the sales enablement process?  Sales people pursue opportunities that don’t fit well with your solution, speak with the prospects that aren’t really decision makers, sell solutions that you don’t really have and the list can go on.  But the overall resulting impact is wasted time and effort in pursuing the wrong opportunities, confusion in the market place and poor sales results.

The most important goals of a strong sales enablement program are too ensure that:

  • The sales team clearly understands the target market(s) that they should be selling.
  • The sales team understands the target buyers and their business challenges.
  • That this understanding is shared by all market facing team members (sales, marketing, executives, etc.).

There are many sales enablement tools that you could create, but the core tools that I recommend include:

  • Product Backgrounder – This is used as a quick reference for the sales person to quickly understand the key aspects of the solution to help guide them in their sales pursuit or to easily discuss the product at a high level.  At a minimum, the product backgrounder needs to include a succinct product description, definition of target markets, market challenges your product address, typical buyers and their main concerns and finally your market messages (e.g., positioning statement, value proposition, etc.).
  • Needs Discovery Grid – This is a tool that helps a new salesperson to carry on an intelligent conversation with an executive level buyer and to uncover the challenges they are facing.  You need to develop one for each buyer profile in each target segment.
  • Executive Level Presentation – Once you have uncovered the needs of the executive level buyer, this is a high level discussion that explains to the buyer that you can solve their problem and helps reinforce the key messages and benefits of your solution.
  • Message Driven Demo – Too many demos are about showing features and don’t really show how the solution solves the buyers business problem.  A message driven demo tells a story that demonstrates how the solution addresses the buyer’s problems and reinforces the key market messages.

For examples of the Product Backgrounder and Needs Discovery Grid, please follow this link.

Once you have completed these sales enablement tools, you need to train the sales team/channel to properly use these tools.  Because it’s difficult to get the attention of salespeople, you must have an executive level commitment to this process to ensure sufficient commitment from the sales team.  This is not a one-time event.   On a regular basis you must remind the sales team of these tools, retrain as necessary and test them to make sure they understand how to use them.

To wrap this up, the product manager/product marketer must be the market expert and own the message.  They are then responsible to make sure that all market facing personnel in the company know how to communicate the message.  But in the process of doing this, do not take on the attitude that PM knows and everyone else doesn’t.   This is a 2-way street and you need to solicit and incorporate feedback and new market information from other market facing colleagues and continually strive to improve on your sales enablement tools.
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 September 2011 11:54
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