Our Head of International Carriers Sales, Iain Sinnott, speaks about how to optimise the sales process through customer view product knowledge.
Do more or do better or do differently: those are the three options for any service provider team aiming to survive and thrive in the next few years in the face of increasing competition. Of course, the ideal solution is to remove the ‘OR’ and achieve all three, which requires re-evaluating existing approaches. Having spent the past few months soaking up ideas and networking with people across Europe, I have clarity around how I believe we can help our service provider partners through our product portfolio and people.
One of the things I have taken away from all my recent discussions and events attended is that taking a different approach to the sales process and team structure is fundamental to future success. The principle is simple and far from new and takes us back to sales 101: it is not what the product is but what it achieves that is valuable. In other words, we need to step into the customer’s shoes. Sounds obvious, right? But this industry has slipped into discussing technology features rather than what matters to the customer.
Here is an example. At a recent event, I had a discussion with one of our favoured technology partners. I am satisfied with the camera that I have clipped to the top of my screen, but I was interested in the vendor’s video camera, which was around four times the price. My question was simple, where is the value? The answer lay in the use case examples, notably the dual focus on the speaker and a ‘show and tell’ product. That would be an easily missed line in a brochure or web page. However, the value becomes evident if a salesperson explains the benefit to a design agency that traditionally visits clients to show and review physical design concepts. The dual focus can reduce the need for a face-to-face meeting, save travel time and cost (and environmental impact), and speed the time from concept to finished product. Is that camera worth four times the price to that user? Absolutely.
However, this raises a hard question: how deep do, can, or should salespeople go? Are they able to get down to that level of detail? Readers may be thinking, hang on: these micro products do not justify that amount of sales effort. However, doing so will reduce future churn, increase referrals and endorsements, and benefit the overall portfolio. Optimising the sales process based on the customer’s potential gain from these micro products is worth more than the time you save by skipping that process.
Another challenge is expecting salespeople to remember the detail of every product to demonstrate the value to the customer, but I have a proposed solution to that challenge. While a service provider still needs its relationship sales experts to sit in front of high-value clients, a vendor’s product specialists can be beamed in via a virtual meeting at any time. Reconstructing the sales process so salespeople can offer a broader portfolio — with the crucial support of the vendor — might equate to an extra 20 per cent of the time taken on each sale but potentially double the lifetime value of each client.
It sounds like good math to me, and, as well as the salesperson, the customer benefits too.
That’s my view, and I am always keen to debate how we collectively work together to evaluate and improve our shared go-to-market strategies. I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, so please contact me via LinkedIn and let me know what you think.