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Delivering Meaningful Customer Conversations for Driving Sales
By David Anderson, Corporate VP Sales and Marketing, Radware
The Get-Set-Go for a Sales Head
Building the revenue, especially on new products, is my key concern. Radware sells a sophisticated suite of technology-driven products. One of my primary objectives is to translate the product features into specific customer benefits for each vertical market so that my salespeople have more meaningful conversations when presenting to customers.
"Today the focus is on a consultative sales model and partnering with the client, if your sales person does not understand the space, they will fail before they even walk through the door"
Three Radars to Developing A Sales Program?
First- try to hire people from the industry you are selling to. They have instant credibility with the customer. Today the focus is on a consultative sales model and partnering with the client, if your sales person does not understand the space, they will fail before they even walk through the door.
Next- It’s really important for modern sales teams to understand the role of social media in the selling process. Platforms like LinkedIn help sales professionals identify more than just one successful account, but many of the same types of opportunities throughout the industry What’s more, LinkedIn not only helps connect sales people to prospects, but the transparence of the platform allows the prospect to feel confidence in the person selling to them.
Last but certainly not least- The salesperson must be able to meet and converse comfortably with executives and not focus exclusively with the first level technical manager. Unless your product or service has an exclusive lock-out feature, many of the decisions will be made by executive staff on more intangibles including company size, local support, market share, experience through the sales process, etc. If your sales executive is both confident, knowledgeable and able to converse with a C-suite and first level manager alike, he/she will close the deal.
Technology Needs Yet to Be Met
Many of the issues that keep me awake at night center around lead-flow and the sales funnel.
In large organizations, the sales funnel is often managed by multiple constituencies across the organization. The Advertising team may be focused on bringing new leads. The field marketing teams may focus on nurturing those leads. An inside sales team may work on booking initial meetings, etc.
As a result, it is very easy to measure the lead flow from inbound web leads and inside sales. However, it is often very difficult to determine the quality of these leads, or the likelihood it will turn into revenue.
You can build a very large pipeline of opportunities that in fact are not qualified and present a much bigger funnel than actually exists. This gives you a false sense of confidence on the quarter.
Another key pain point in the sales funnel is CRM data. The CRM on its own often paints too rosy a picture. When dealing with a CRM, it’s easy for a sales manager to experience information overload. While they are often very powerful and sophisticated sales management solutions, CRMs can be extremely cumbersome to navigate or gain quick insight into your opportunities for the Month or the Quarter.
Often it’s very hard to distinguish between an engaged and active lead and leads that have not yet been sales-qualified. This makes it easy to be fooled by overly optimistic data.
What I use to accompany the CRM are secure google.docs that show me an instant by instant summary of the key opportunities that my team is actively managing. My sales force updates this doc sometimes 5 times a day to show progress, barriers and specific requests.
Q Advice for Successful Sales Person?
Understand the specific markets you are selling into. Who are the key target verticals?
Salespeople must be familiar with each market they are selling into such as banking vs ecommerce. This may entail understand of regulatory and compliance issues, privacy, data storage and retention, encryption, virtualization, recovery, real time processing, PCI compliance etc. These are all knowledge areas outside of the scope of the product. The more knowledge the salesperson has the more credibility they will have with the end decision makers. Then, you have to make sure the salesperson can translate the product features into the benefits for that specific customer type. What is this customer ’s win?
Understanding the prospect’s business:
You have to understand what your customers do. Who are their customers? How does the company generate revenue? You need to understand their specific expansion plans. For example, they are opening up a new data center, or a new channel of distribution, or they had a new product launch or just completed an acquisition. Then you have to figure out how you fit into those specific initiatives and covey to the customer how you can accelerate those initiatives for them. By following this process, you take yourself out of the bucket of being a ‘generic vendor.'