In 2014, as we shifted from pure sales outsourcing to a sales outsourcing and outsourced marketing company, we searched and found a framework that would help us to do 4 things:
- Continue to craft solution sales scripts to leverage inside sales rep
- Craft a powerful story that could be told using video for thought leadership
- Provide a framework for content producers to continue to support that story
- Most importantly – force alignment between sales and marketing around a consistent a value proposition that would drive deals forward to transactions.
That is when we came across Michael Skoks’ “4Us”. See the article on Forbes here. The framework was originally designed for Michael Skok to decide what companies to invest in as a venture capitalist.
But we felt like it had powerful implications for successful sales and marketing acceleration. It just made sense. If a product or solution was worthy of investment the same characteristics should also make it faster to scale sales. It will make the solution a “must have” not a “nice to have”. If you focus on the reasons it is a “must have”, you have a better shot of scaling quickly .
After using this framework for the past several years, it has become a valuable tool in our strategy consulting (especially when combined with a Buyer Persona exercise and a Message Framework). The reason it is so powerful is deceptively simple but worth stating -This framework forces both sales and marketing to focus on the real reasons buyers buy and move into the sale funnel (spoiler alert: it’s not technical features and benefits). Buyers buy because it will give them a personal win, a professional win or both. Here is how it works.
Is the problem Unworkable? Does your solution fix a broken business process where there are real, measurable consequences to inaction? Will someone get fired if the issue is not addressed?
You need to focus on fixing problems that do not already have an easy to fix or easy solution. If your solution is a commodity you need to look for another unique value or you will be out gunned by companies with more money to spend.
Is fixing the problem Unavoidable? Is it driven by a mandate with implications associated with governance or regulatory control?Not all solutions will be mandated but you should always look for them. However, there are tangential ways you can get the same flavor -most often by focusing on the customer in your area like your buyers’ customer satisfaction scores, increasing customer retention, and improving customer loyalty.
Is the problem Urgent? Is it one of the top priorities for a company? In selling to enterprises, you’ll find it hard to command the attention and resources to arrange a deal if you fall below this line. In our experience, (and this is putting on our sales hat) there are really only three key criteria that make a problem urgent for a buyer:
- It will help them hit their quarterly or annual bonus compensation
- It will help them get promoted
- It will keep them from getting fired
Matching this value prop to specific buyer’s personas becomes extremely powerful, especially for sales. If you can hit this hard, it will keep you from a stalled sales pipeline and help you avoid getting the dreaded “no” decision.
Is the problem Underserved? Is there a conspicuous absence of valid solutions to the problem you’re looking to solve? Focus your initial message on the whitespace or the gap between solutions. This is especially powerful if you are taking on incumbents, and gives you a wedge offering to pilot your solution if you can price effectively.
Exiting this exercise you should have 4 to 5 bullets that become your core value prop from there alignment becomes simple because you can craft a powerful sales story that both sales and marketing can work together on. You simply put your buyers personas into buckets and you have a clear understanding of what story you need to tell to move them through the sales pipeline. Here is an example of what that looks like.
How Gabriel Sales Can Help
Gabriel Sales specializes in helping companies committed to growth scale. Scaling starts by aligning both sales and marketing around a powerful sales story. We have found no faster path to this story than anchoring that story in repeatable and clear value propositions that can be supported by simple content and clear sales scripts.
To learn more about how we can help you identify and share this message with your ideal target markets and buyers you can contact us here. Please feel free to check out our sales consulting and sales outsourcing services page. Or if you have your process buttoned up and are simply looking for more sales ready leads we can help with that as well.
Everyone that works in sales knows that finding great sales people is not easy. Gabriel Sales has 16 years’ experience in searching for the right B2B sales staff for our variety of clients. One observation that has become abundantly clear is that a charismatic, charming sales personas have amazing skills to aid in sales. They can engage in any conversation, they light up the room, and they just know what to say and when to say it, however keeping the CRM updated and staying on top of reporting may be a challenge. On the other hand, we have detail oriented folks – they know who to call when based on their sales system, they diligently have their notes up to date and pipeline clean and tidy. The rare find is the combo platter – the detail oriented, orderly, charismatic, charming sales professional. Whether we find the charmer or the organized, we learn how to support the team members’ strengths and weaknesses and adjust to make it work. Whichever personality type you can find, here are 4 key traits to look for that make great sales people.
This person is strong-willed and does not let a loss affect their performance. This person will go into each day driven to exceed expectations, and take the criticism necessary to improve their performance. Nothing is taken personally because they are mature enough to understand it is to their benefit. This person comes up with new ideas and tactics and is not afraid to think outside the box. This person inspires others to take the extra step as well. Leadership is the first important quality of great sales people.
This person is willing to do anything to win. Typically we find that ex-high school/college competitive athletes are a great fit because they are competitive and know what it takes to win: hard work. Competition with co-workers keeps this person going, as well as their constant desire for self-improvement.
There are leaders and there are managers. By manager, I am referring to that detailed person – the person who keeps on schedule, sets goals and meets them; the person that tracks his progress for anyone to pick up if he gets hit by a bus (of course that will never happen). This trait is critical to the person who wants to move up and eventually be the Director or VP of Sales as they understand organization and accountability- critical when reporting to execs and investors. Many salespeople do not want to move to the next level because of that extra responsibility required. I think that is actually a good thing – as we cannot have too many cooks in the kitchen, but having basic management skills is a quality I always look for in great sales people.
We all know someone who changes the energy of a room when they walk in. It is a rare trait, and often this personality trait is common in top sales performers. In an inside sales environment, this person will comfortably go off script and connect with customers on a personal level. As mentioned above, they just know what to say and when and make people feel good. While this is a tremendous trait to have, it cannot be faked. So don’t try to be that person if you are not; if you are seen as someone who is being artificial the sale can quickly evaporate.
If you are hiring, good luck! If you want to pass on hiring a sales person and leave it to us, read this article on sales outsourcing to see if it would be a good fit or just contact us here.
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New Product Launch Strategy
This 3:20 video outlines new product launch sales strategies and tactics and how outsourced marketing with a outsourcing and a marketing engine may be able to help with:
- Sales and Marketing Alignment
- Speed to Market
- Beating the competition
- Closing deals faster
- Market intelligence and feedback loops
- Metrics that make investors happy
- Sales Technology infrastructure
The world of professional services sales is changing rapidly. Changing with it are the challenges faced by the members of your team. This blog will talk about several challenges and the opportunity they present in selling professional services to clients in today’s environment.
Whether you are considering outsourcing sales or further developing your own internal sales team, the challenges that all of us face in selling professional services and solutions are the same. Gone are the days of discretionary or experimental budgets. If they still exist, they are typically dramatically reduced. You have to sell to both a technical buyer and a business buyer in every organization. Companies are running leaner at top levels, and as a result the decision makers that you need to sell to are picking up the phone 30% less. Once you do connect and start to engage the prospect in your sales cycle and with your content, their schedules are so tight that it takes much longer to move them through your sales funnel.
Here’s the bottom line: lead generation, lead qualifying and sales engagement can take twice the time and energy they did in the past. Markets are flooded with buyers and sellers of all types, and it’s your job to weed through it all. For the professional service firms that we provide sales outsourcing and lead generation services to, it’s more important now than ever that we sell smarter and do our best to maximize top producer’s sales efficiency and effectiveness. We also have to help make the process easier for the buyers we are selling to. They have less time and demand a more efficient way to buy.
When a professional service firm comes to us (as opposed to product sales companies) to have a discussion about outsourcing sales, they often voice additional unique complexities that they are now facing in the professional service market:
- The roles of seller and deliverer are often merging. More time spent selling means less time dedicated to delivery and/or available for sales pipe development efforts.
- The professional service sale is growing increasingly complex, and requires an investment in education and solution selling.
- Education is required because professional services engagements are perceived as high risk investments for buyers, since they can’t hold the product in their hand. Consequently, buyers take longer to make decisions and often want to break up adoption so that there is a pilot or proof of concept stage.
- Professional services selling requires communication of intangible benefits – character, thinking style and personality of lead consultants and top producers – to effectively close deals.
- Top producing professional service executives are predisposed to “solutioning” and solving customer problems, rather than “selling” and sales management.
- Professional service sales are high risk for the Seller due to the need to acquire real return and margins that only stem from long-term engagements, beyond initial pilots
If you take all of these emerging complexities into account, they point to “time” as the single, largest issue. Time is still quite literally money, as they say – and this is especially true for the professional service business model. For us at Gabriel Sales, the challenge in outsourcing the professional service sale lies in identifying how best to customize a program to make your top producers operate at their highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency.
Gabriel Sales has been providing outsourced sales and lead generation services successfully to professional service providers across a wide variety of verticals and target markets – for over 15 years. In the last few years we’ve seen a large market shift in the approach buyers take to engage and make decisions surrounding professional service solutions. This has led to the creation of a viable opportunity for increased efficiency and effectiveness in designing a sales engine and cloning your top producers.
Sales and marketing interactions have changed drastically due to the proliferation of the internet and digital communication. Buyers have always actively leveraged content, but now it is being digested specifically through digital and social media. Buyers are streamlining their process on their own time. You now have the ability to leverage lead generation and sales reps that are skilled in communicating your solutions effectiveness and value in the digital space. These reps can manage more of your sale and replicate larger pieces of what was previously required of your top producer. Professional service firms can make it easier for buyers to buy by alleviating the buyer’s time constraints, while simultaneously opening up bandwidth for their top producers. Sales productivity skyrockets by as much as two times within a year, and as high as three times within eighteen months.
This opportunity is significant. But what is even more significant is that taking advantage of this shift does not require completely changing your existing sales process. However, it does require that you effectively align your sales and marketing teams, and get them to stop living in the silos that is typically tradition. This allows for you to be able to engage in a one-to-many dialogue as you generate leads and communicate effectively with both the technical buyer and business buyer. Your sales reps will need to be trained and managed effectively in using these new tools.
Please feel free to contact us or visit “Why Professional Services Firms Use Outsourcing Sales and Marketing” for more information.
It is becoming more and more a commonplace business practice to outsource sales and marketing. However, with so many solution providers out there and the high level of complexity involved with outsourcing sales and marketing, it’s important to have a high level of transparency with any partner you are considering working with. This short blog will present 4 different questions that you should discuss with any potential outsourced provider. Remember that discussing these items should help you gain insight into the areas that outsourcing can help you the most, as well as bring to light where you are succeeding the most.
Does sales need to be a core competency?
This question can only be answered by the owners, executives and Board of Directors/Investors of our clients. This is the question that we typically work with and sweat over the most. Many times when we integrate into an organization for an engagement, we encourage that our clients retain product specialists, sales engineers, client service leads and professional servicing as their core responsibility. We want to focus our efforts on managing and executing the sale. When our clients effectively own that core competency, everyone wins. Most importantly, control of the business and long term customer relationships stay with you, the client. Once the engine is in place, decisions can start to be made towards where you should be focusing effort to close as much business as possible. The question then arises, does it make sense to have a team dedicated to generating new business and closing pilot deals while your internal team can focus on cherry picking the pipe for low hanging fruit?
Do I need to focus on my core business?
Today’s economy is fickle, at best. It’s becoming increasingly important that you have your talent focused on where they can create the most value and have the most success. This includes both closing deals and solution delivery. Do you need to grow delivery alongside sales? How focused will your executives and management team be on client satisfaction and product development? How much time should be spent on biz dev? Keep these questions top of mind while discussing with a potential outsourcer.
Do I have access to the talent I need to ramp up my sales and marketing efforts?
Sales and marketing are evolving rapidly and no longer live in their own silos. Buyers now control the sale. You have to have your sales and marketing efforts aligned to effectively capture the market. This means the right talent needs to be in place to execute campaigns, manage lead generation efforts, develop messages, manage technology platforms, complete the requisite ROI analysis, train reps, and MOST IMPORTNANTLY close the sale! In our opinion, the more complex the sale the more processes you need to effectively manage. An outsource sales provider ensures that you focus and drive excellence in each individual phase of your sales cycle. We can bring a dedicated, dynamic team to the table from day one.
Do I have the knowledge to execute?
Sales execution used to be simple. All it involved was making or scheduling meetings, giving presentations, scoping and closing deals. There are now more decision makers and influencers on the other end of the deal. The expectation is that your company will bring experts to the table and be educated on relevant technology platforms. They need to know you can communicate fluidly and manage process and technology effectively. Understanding the adjacent technologies and how they can be applied is more critical now than ever. Do you have the time to commit fully to stay current and knowledgeable?
For more information on how to outsource sales and marketing can help accomplish your goals, please feel free to take a look at our previous blog.
If you would like more information, or would just like to chat with us about issues you may be having or how we can help, please contact us.
Over the past 10 years over a dozen of our virtual sales and marketing engagements have been supporting the sophisticated sales efforts of call centers, business process outsourcers and knowledge process outsourcers. This has been invaluable in helping us learn how to best provide our clients with operational excellence. We keep our finger on the pulse of innovation, and it has given us a unique perspective of what is necessary to consider on the front end in order to ensure successful engagements.
Outsourcing sales and marketing is unlike any other form of outsourcing or professional service. If done properly, the result looks like a blend of customer service, business process, and knowledge process as well as the creative “art of the close.” It’s our position that sales strategy has shifted, and the focus is on the science and the process, with the art coming second. With that being said, one thing we have learned from working in outsourced models for as long as we have is that there is no universally successful approach. The more you share with your potential partner upfront, the more successful you will be.
So, to kick start this dialogue, we want to focus on the following areas to help those of you considering to outsource sales come to understand our strategy and approach on the front-end:
What am I looking to change about sales and marketing, and how well are they aligned?
More leads, closed deals and more revenue is just the beginning. Am I taking a new product to market? Do I need to improve my margins? Do I want clients that can scale? Do I want to be in a growth vertical? Do I want to sell to the budget makers or the budget spenders? Do I want to be in a new geography? Do I want to empower my channels? Is it about pipe velocity or pipe quality? – All of these questions should already be buzzing about your thought process.
Are my sales team and management currently viewed as a strength or weakness?
It’s tough to bridge the gap between sales and marketing. Everyone likes to sit in their own silo. Sales people especially are often overly optimistic, and marketing has a hard time matching this measurable success and enthusiasm. If you ride them too hard though, they lose confidence and drive. If you don’t hold them accountable than the pipe can’t be expected to bear fruit. A question emerges: does it make sense to delegate that management to a partner that is contractually bound to hit targets and service levels from day one?
Will outsourcing help me to manage my risk?
This is a loaded question, but we find the answer will almost always be yes. Organizations that outsource sales are bound contractually to target, metrics, reporting requirements and feedback requirements most organizations rarely get from their employees. Outsource sales organizations reduce fixed costs and migrate to a variable expense on your P&L’s. Outsourced sales and organizations get rid of your need for hard infrastructure and capital investments in technologies and marketing platforms. With an outsourced team you get a Senior Sales and Marketing Talent, Executive Talent, a functioning sales machine and marketing support for generally the same cost as a senior enterprise rep. For new product launches, outsourced partners provide real time market intelligence right off the bat due to their combination with lead gen activities. You get instant impressions and insight into the marketplace.
For more on Gabriel Sales or B2B sales outsourcing, please contact us.