In this series, we explore the 7 Deadly Sins of the Australian Sales Conversation. Today’s sin: Product Talk – the gateway through which all conversations become white noise to the customer. Check out the first in the series here: The Danger of Coffee Catch-Ups.
Have you ever noticed that people love showing baby pictures, even if you didn’t ask to see them? I don’t want to shock you, but sellers—and often the most qualified ones — do the same thing when talking about their products.
Who are our biggest offenders?
I wish shameless product promotion only applied to engineers-turned-sellers or just the tech sector with its super cool solutions. But in reality, this happens everywhere. And to make things worse, if you’re a sales leader, you carry some of the blame. You have enabled your sellers to be boring self promoters.
Please don’t misunderstand: every seller should have product training. If a seller can’t articulate the finer points of a product, they don’t stand a chance selling it… but detailed product knowledge is not enough. Sellers need to truly understand their customer’s world and the concerns those customers face, both seen and unseen.
But this isn’t really a problem for me, right?
If yours is like thousands of other companies, you probably consider yourself “customer-centric.” But your team’s sales conversations don’t reflect those values. Here’s an easy way to tell: What do your sellers focus on in the first 48 minutes of a one-hour meeting? If they mention your company or what you sell excessively, you are not customer-centric.
Great… what now?
You probably wonder what type of development a Sales leader should focus on. Business acumen is a common choice. But a few hours online to strengthen business acumen will not get your sales team comfortable discussing the true plight of their customer.
You must help your sellers understand and empathize with their CUSTOMER’S world. I’m not talking about understanding the customer in the context of your product or business relationship, I’m talking about understanding the customer in the context of THEIR business.
If you sell into a business and the CFO needs to sign off, your seller should know what a P&L statement looks like, what the CFO cares about, what will make him/her look like a hero, and most importantly what would be a big problem he/she must address and at what cost of inaction.
So what should I do?
Ahead of a sales call, ask your seller about the top 3 priorities of their customer, and the industry trends most affecting them. If they come back with “make more money, mitigate risk, or reduce cost” dig deeper. Sellers who can clearly articulate priorities from the customer’s perspective will be far more effective at exploring the issue in conversation, and connecting it ultimately to your products and services. Make sure to retain sales reps who can do this well -and use them to teach their peers.
Finally, when your sellers practice with you for their next big customer meeting, and you hear mention your company’s name and products right at the outset, gently remind them “I don’t care about your baby!”.