This article originally appear on Leopard.com
Written by Kelly Hanratty
Question: When do you feel like you’re being sold?
Is it when the seller connects to your problem and shows he understands the pain? Is it when she wants to talk about your company and strategies more than she wants to talk about her products or “solutions?”
When I think back to my own experiences, I felt “sold to” every time a salesperson didn’t listen or, frankly, didn’t seem to care what my pain or motivation was. They droned on and on about solutions that seemed to solve a quota problem more than my business problem. And the last thing I wanted to do was share more about me or my company, let alone get to the nitty gritty of how their widget worked.
But when I was with masterful sales people, they listened. They asked questions. They understood me, not just “the business.” They connected to my goals. They painted a believable and compelling picture of the world with my problem solved. They gave examples of how others solved for similar issues. They sold the conviction to solve my problem more than they sold me on a product.
So, if you’re a marketer, what does this have to do with you? As marketers we are equipped—even hard-wired—with the exact tools that will help our sales organizations have more relevant conversations with prospects:
- We’ve studied our customers. We know their pains and motivators.
- We’re focused on connecting our brand to those customers most predisposed to buy.
- We craft compelling product messages.
- We work hard to make sure these insights are reflected in our approach to our advertising, direct marketing, social media and PR. But there’s one medium where, in many cases, this vast knowledge and understanding is getting lost in translation: sales conversations.
In fact our proprietary research here at Leopard shows the disconnect with salespeople and their prospects across a dozen verticals:
- Only 27% of buyers say salespeople understand their issues and where to help.
- A mere 23% of buyers say salespeople understand the buyer’s role and responsibilities within their organization.
If you’re like me, these numbers make you cringe. All the time, the effort, the money spent strategizing and executing campaigns—in an effort to lead sellers to prospects and prospects to sellers, and more than 70 percent of the conversations leave prospects feeling ignored? Your message isn’t holding strong—either on its way to sales, or on its way through sales. I hate to say this to my marketing brothers and sisters, but it’s just as much our job as it is the sales team’s to fix it. This isn’t just about training. It’s about connecting the brand, the products and your customers to your salespeople.
Okay, so now you’re thinking, “I know it’s not 70 percent for us.” That’s great! What percent would you say it is? Because here’s the real question: What percent of your prospects are you willing to subject to a poor interaction with your company? If what we often hear holds true for you, that finding quality prospects (let alone getting a meeting with one) is like unwrapping a golden ticket, your answer has to be ZERO. So, after you’ve quantified your company’s unique situation, regardless of the number you came to, ask:
How are we extending our branding from before prospects are considered to be in the sales funnel, all the way through to inking a new customer relationship?
Are we enabling our sales team to introduce customers to our brand through the experience of solving business issues—not just by discussing the products we sell?
Do we empower sellers to have focused, business-relevant conversations with any decision-maker at a prospect company—whether they’re in the C-suite, procurement, or leading the actual adoption or implementation?
This is where the self-evaluation starts. The good news is, you have the insights and the know-how to start reconnecting the power of your brand’s message to your sellers right away. And it probably goes without saying that we’re happy to help. But you know what they say. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting you have one.
Kelly Hanratty is the Executive Group Director at Leopard in Denver, Colorado.