Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do You Know What Your Salespeople Are Selling?

By Jeb Dasteel and Amir Hartman
Sales organizations, beware! Today’s customers are more informed than ever and have no patience for salespeople telling them what they likely already know or how great your products are. And we know that most of the buying cycle is complete by the time customers actually engage with someone from sales. That means that selling, like marketing, has forever changed.
Making customer success part of the sales DNA helps companies engage customers in meaningful conversations about the business challenges those customers face and the business outcomes they are trying to achieve.
Today’s most successful sales reps are able to understand customers’ markets, competition, positioning, and what they need to do next to be successful. They provide their customers with actual facts that justify an investment in what they’re selling, and they work hard to build mutually beneficial and enduring relationships. Successful sales reps understand their customers’ business as much as any one of the customer’s employees. And they do this through a combination of in-person, social, and mobile engagement.
Sales must transform the terms of customer engagement—in other words, the language, tools, and skills they are equipped with have to help them sell business outcomes that matter to customers. Research shows that sales cycles can be reduced by over 30% when organizations use quantifiable evidence of the value their solutions deliver.
So what should you do? Start by demanding that your sales organizations (direct sales, inside sales, and channels) be able to:
  • Engage with your customers to understand their businesses, what’s top of mind, and how their performance is measured.
  • Problem-solve with your customers and then jointly develop and justify the business solution.
  • Recast and communicate the solution through relevant customer stories.
  • Help your customers with best practices and lessons learned for effective and speedy adoption of the solution.
  • Measure the actual value your customers are realizing, helping customers course-correct as necessary.
Bottom line: Provide your sales organizations with the skills and tools to truly embed themselves in their customers’ business, sell business outcomes, and ensure customer success. You’ll see a greater share of your customers’ business.
If you would like to participate in a short survey on customer success, we would be honored to have your input. Click here. It will take just a few minutes.
Jeb Dasteel is Oracle’s senior vice president and chief customer officer. Amir Hartman is cofounder and managing director of Mainstay, and author of the recent book Ruthless Execution.

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