The Value of Sales Is Your Brand.
Many tech CEOs and senior executives do not understand the value of sales. Too often Product and Marketing are perceived to be the primary drivers of success and a belief that Sales will somehow happen if they have a great product and market it well. “People buy from people” is an adage, and in b2b tech sales, it is as real today as it ever was. Your salespeople are the face of your organization, and the message they take to the customer is an essential dimension of your brand.
Sales Can be Daunting.
When it comes to creating, building and managing a sales team, there is a lot that can go wrong. It often requires a considerable investment, one that many CEOs and senior executives see as a headache, a necessary evil, or worst case, a necessity for doing business that they can somehow figure out over time.
Hiring, training, developing, and managing a successful sales team can be daunting! Senior executives are continually balancing this against the need to reach their desired Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) goal to deliver for current or prospective investors. It’s a daily grind.
You Cannot Rely on Inbound Marketing.
If inbound marketing is your only strategy for b2b enterprise-level customers, and you have business development teams supporting that approach, you are missing a vital component of the sales activities that would enable you to move up-market, and increase your customer transaction sizes. Those sales activities revolve around building a true sales-face to your branding.
Your Salespeople are Your Brand.
Gartner found that 53% of customer loyalty is attributed to the customer’s buying experience, according to a survey of over 5,000 people at members’ customer organizations. That experience can only be managed by your salespeople – no-one else! Your salespeople are your brand in front of your prospective customers, so handing this responsibility off to inexperienced sales leaders or the ‘wrong’ salespeople can significantly undermine your market branding and damage your organization’s reputation. Developing your sales and branding strategy in unison is an essential step in increasing your value of sales! Many startups make the mistake of not doing this, which significantly slows down their time to market, and strongly impacts their ability to reach their next phase of funding.
What is Included in Sales Branding?
Many tools can boost your sales brand.
Case Studies and Use Cases
The sales branding process should include case studies, with precise success metrics. Each case study must consist of use-cases with strong impact statements. Where people fall-down, is when they confuse use-cases with case studies. They are not the same thing.
Case Studies are the long written copy that talks at a high level about a problem. Used for awareness campaigns, they demonstrate your credibility in your chosen market. Case studies are not a useful tool for sales or marketing in isolation as they lack the specifics to be compelling nor motivating enough to move your prospects forward. It is, therefore, necessary to ensure that both sales and marketing collaborate in the creation of detailed use-cases that motivate the potential customer to take meaningful actions. They show the fit and value of your solution within the client’s own company.
The Need for Coaches and Champions
Creating coaches and champions inside your prospect’s organization is a critical success factor in moving up-market and true enterprise selling. It is a component of your sales brand that needs to be mastered. Various sales branding tools and techniques are required to meet this need, with one of the most important being “The Top-Drivers” presentation and conversation.
The Top-Drivers Presentation
The “Top Drivers” presentation and conversation addresses specific items succinctly:
What is the problem that is being solved?
There should be three business problems identified – not jargon, which clearly articulates what the prospect CANNOT do today.
What is the impact of the problem?
A skilled salesperson needs to negotiate for the right information early in the sales cycle. Your “business problems” need to contain impact statements that show how the prospect will benefit once they are solved. These impact statement then provide the storyline for all future demonstrations. Demonstrations without context add little to no value.
What would that specific customer need to solve that problem?
This is NOT your technology, nor should it be tech jargon. The answer should be described in the language of your prospect.
What is your proposed solution?
Again this should be answered in business terms, avoiding your comfort zone of jargon and tech speak. You need to make your solution unique in the way it addresses the customer need; else you could hand your potential customer to a competitor.
What are the benefits of your proposed solution for this customer?
Think business impact. If you cannot be specific, you have not created a strong value proposition.
What are Your Top Value Drivers?
These are the business impact drivers you can legitimately influence, and your sales team needs to know “how” you affect these! Training is required for the sales and marketing teams to improve their effectiveness in this area. It requires a broad solution and business knowledge to be confident in your discussion.
Your specific use case is the proof (not a case study). It demonstrates what your solution will solve and how it does so.
Sales is About Creating Value.
Creating your Top Value Drivers presentation and being able to hold a conversation based on them is vital for both sales and marketing to deliver a robust and unified message to enterprise-level customers. Demonstrating your product without understanding how it will solve a prospects business problem is a strategy of hope. You are reliant on the customer seeing the value for themselves. If this is your strategy, then you will typically see a far lowers closing percentage and a lower average selling price.
You can’t fake it. Just “figuring it out as you go” will have a massive impact on your time to profitability and can severely impact your ARR targets. It will also lead to a disappointing prospect experience, resulting in a loss of momentum, undermining marketing and branding investments, and ultimately lead to your company running out of time and money.
The next time you ponder on the value of sales, remember that the value of sales is your brand, they are the same. You cannot focus on one without focusing on the other.