In 1997 one of the first sales jobs I had was for a Silicon Valley start-up called Autoweb.com selling websites and leads to car dealers. Some of you might not remember what it was like to buy a car prior to the internet. In those days you would walk onto a car lot and the only pieces of information you could access were the Kelly Blue Book value of your trade in and the MSRP on the window sticker (if you were really savvy you had Consumer Reports and JD Powers comparison and safety data). The typical sales person would then pitch the features and benefits and take you into a room to bust out what was called the “Four Square” http://consumerist.com/2007/03/dealerships-rip-you-off-with-the-four-square-heres-how-to-beat-it.html
Essentially the Four Square was a way to keep the car salesperson in total control of the sales process by allowing them to decide when and where they would share information. It was about obfuscating the information to close business. In the 90s buying a car was ranked just below a root canal and divorce as unpleasant experiences. Companies like Autoweb.com changed an entire paradigm and subsequently the buying experience because we made the price and features of buying a car transparent and accessible when and where the buyer wanted it. That’s not to say this was an easy model to get dealerships to adopt. I was cursed out and hung up on 100s of times by Dealership owners and GMs when they figured out what we were doing.
By 1998 car buying had changed. My Autoweb.com clients that adopted this model and embraced the new paradigm of transparency and service ended up seeing their sales increase in their markets by as much as 35% in a two year period. A fair amount of the businesses that hung up the phone on me ended up going out of business, literally out of business by 2000. This new way to buy cars was such a successful model because when you sold to the buyer the way they wanted to buy you won more business. What did the buyer want – transparency and not to be “hard sold” they wanted to engage in dialogue with an expert in a situation where they had as much information as the seller and control of the process.
In Where Good Ideas Come From Steven Johnson talks about the 10/10 rule for innovation. Where he says “it takes a decade to build a new platform and a decade for it to find a mass audience”. He also talks about true innovations coming from “adjacencies” – the connections of ideas and technologies in new ways to produce improved results and “innovative systems have a tendency to gravitate towards the ‘edge of chaos’: the fertile zone between too much order and too much anarchy. At Gabriel Sales we think that Steven Johnson is spot on. We are seeing…
- ….all the adjacent locations on the Internet – Websites, Social Media, Publisher Sites, etc. , the technologies of the Internet from YouTube, Go-To-Meeting, Webcasting Platforms, Slide Share, and the SaaS technologies of Saleforce.com, Mail Chimp and Marketing Automation Platforms, and Telecom Technologies…
- …and well trained telemarketing, telesales and outside sales reps….
- ….and marketers armed with analytics tools…
…as able to execute a complex sale B2B sale in the same way Autoweb.com was able sell a commodity to a single end consumer 12 years ago. By integrating all of these tools into the right processes —prospect teams (the people we are trying to sell to) responsible for buying can work transparently and seamlessly with sale and marketing teams (Gabriel Sales)— to create a mutually beneficial experience that is dedicated to helping buyers buy the way they want to buy. The rules of engagement have changed and 20 years since the inception of the Internet, the way we connect as human beings and sell to one another is now permanently changing. Always be closing (at least in the first stages of the buying cycle Awareness and Interest to stay with the Glen Garry Glen Ross metaphor) is no longer about “selling” it’s about transparently “serving and sharing” first.
The Right Integrated Pitch and Content Strategy – Ensures the Technical Buyer Does Not Say “No” so the Business Buyer will Say “Yes”
What we are sharing below is an abbreviated outline to give you a flavor of how to approach your sales content to:
- Ensures you keep the dealing moving forward faster
- Save you money by creating collateral that can be used across the sale
- Accelerate the speed to get the meeting with the Decision Maker
If you are interested in the full presentation let us know.
In Selling to the C-Suite the authors advocate that you need to pitch to C-Level Executives on your ability to be a “Trusted Advisor”. To summarize, from the execs position, the trusted advisor needs to demonstrate the following qualities:
1. Ability to Marshal Resource
2. Understand my Business Goals
3. Responsive to my requests
4. Willing to be Held Accountable
5. Knowledge of company’s products
6. Ability to solve problems
7. Works well with my staff
Trusted advisors end up in the Client Value Zone (below). You win business as a trusted advisor and most importantly it’s the right kind of business – long term and reoccurring. In fact we tested the list from this book against one of our clients closed deals and 8 out of the 10 of the deals we won were almost verbatim hitting points 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7.
So all that stated we obviously all want to be in in the Client Value Zone. We hear the battle cries with every new client we launch. “Let’s put together a pitch that gets us meetings with the top executives out of the gate.” “Let’s go big or go home! “ That’s a great strategy but its no longer totally grounded in reality . You need to sell to the technical buyer. You don’t get to the business buyer consistently unless you are skilled at converting your technical buyer into a champion and advocate.
At Gabriel Sales we generally advocate that you focus on the technical buyer first especially when it comes to content strategy because you can leverage the majority of the content you provide the business buyer in shorter forms with the business. This may sound counter intuitive and going after the technical buyer first is not quite as sexy, but it works, so indulge me for a couple of more lines.
Combining the two data points above -here are your traffic signals for selling to the technical buyer and why that content can be repurposed for the business buyer:
- Green Light – Definitely prove you are reliable, trustworthy and consistent to the technical buyer.
o Content and Sales Focus – A couple testimonials and keeping your promises while executing a methodical sales process will prove you have Integrity to the technical buyer and will also cover of on the business buyers need to believe you are willing to be accountable (criteria #4)
- Green Light – Prove you are a solid extra set of hands
o Content Focus- this is done with Success Stories and Case Studies. This will show the technical buyer you have the capability and will also demonstrate to the business buyer you have the ability to solve problems (criteria #6) and understand business goals (criteria #2)
- Green Light – Prove you are an expert
o Content Focus – Do this with educational webcasts, digital demos and solid ROI examples. This will prove your expertise to the technical buyer and will also prove to the business buyer your sales and marketing team know their own products cold (criteria #5)
- Red Light – Never claim to the technical buyer you are an expert in their companies business or overtly tell technical buyers you will be a trusted advisor and have a collaborative relationship.
o Content Focus – Wait until you have a meeting with the Executive Buyer and have video testimonials that are gated where your own customers make this claim for you. There is one exception here – if there are specific areas where you need or can make and support the claim that you are an expert in a discrete area of their business (ideally around a sales objection) have a customer go on record to support that claim. Ideally with a digital testimonial so you can control it. These testimonials if done correctly will cover off on criteria #1 (your ability to marshal resources) .
Why is this guarded pitch and content strategy more important than ever? 2 reasons –
If you blow through the Red Light and THE TECHNICAL BUYER WANT TO BE A TRUSTED ADVISOR TO THEIR EXECUTIVE TEAM OR BOSS you will never get that meeting — because in these economic times of 8% plus unemployment – “Trusted Expert Advisor” could mean the technical buyers job (if they are not super confident) or “Trusted Advisor” could mean “I don’t get a promotion” to the technical buyer. In either case you don’t know what you don’t know (especially early in the sales process) so it’s better to err on the cautious side. Don’t give the technical buyer a reason to say no and you get your shot at the business buyer to say yes.
Finally if your pitch and content are properly aligned and you do your job with the technical buyer and you get that intro you will cover off on the business buyers criteria #7 “Works well with my staff.” Executed correctly that makes you seven for seven in business buyers “Yes” criteria before you even get to the Decision Maker – which at the end of the day is the technical buyers job as the gatekeeper. Show the technical buyer respect and consideration and you are going to win more than you lose.
If you would like Gabriel Sales to help you create a content strategy to drive results for the technical or business buyer, please contact us.
The Close – Some Common Sense Using Webster’s New Universal Unabridged
What does “Always Be Closing” mean stage by stage when Sales and Marketing are Aligned? Earn the right to close the deal with the intention of your pitch and the flavor of your content.
Close – v. 1. To unite; to coalesce; to come together.
- First Need of your Prospect – Aware(ness) – a. 1. watchful; vigilant guarded. 2. knowing; cognizant; informed.
- First thing you need to do is to Educate – v. 1. to give knowledge or training; train or develop the knowledge of, skill or mind. 2. to form or develops one’s taste.
- Now that you have your prospect in the right state of – Consideration n- 1. the act of considering; careful thought or attention; deliberation.
- Your job is now to Convince – v. 1. to persuade or satisfy by evidence or argument; to overcome the doubts of; to cause to feel certain.
- Take care of Step 1 and 2 and your future customer will have a – Preference – 1. a greater liking. 2. the right, power or opportunity of prior claim. 3. something preferred, once first choice. 4. a priority or advantage.
- Don’t stop until you are done. To win requires that you continue to – Verify – v. 1. to prove to be true by demonstration, evidence or testimony; to confirm or establish the truth of.
If you cover all the bases and it’s a win for the client and a win for you we are back to – Close – a- 1. shut fast; tight; made fast. 2. having part firmly united.