“Cultivating and delivering differentiated value through your sales team”

white sea stonesThe numbers are pretty staggering: Depending on your industry, your customer has completed more than half of their buying process before your sales rep has had their first interaction with them. With the abundance of information available and buyers’ increased awareness, they don’t need your sales rep to showcase your wares; they need your rep to share insights as to how your solution will help them better than any other.

Gone are the days where relationships and persuasive skills were the keys to sales success. As we recently heard from leaders at the Annual Chief Sales Executive Forum, sustained, above-market growth comes from delivering differentiated value via unique ideas. Bill Taylor, keynote speaker and author of “Practically Radical,” shared how in the old days, the strong took from the weak; but today, the smart will take from the strong. Unfortunately, without a factory producing fresh insights on a continued basis, most sales leaders face a conundrum on how to find and deliver them. But there is some good news…smart leaders can solve for this by taking the following two steps:

PART 1: Build Your Insight Engine by Creating an Insight Loop – Let’s be honest, developing unique insights is not easy. Most sellers are accustomed to receiving and regurgitating ideas generated by the marketing and product teams. The problem is these insights are often developed by people who have not seen or talked with a customer in years. As a result, their messages often don’t resonate wiPicture2th buyers, and sellers stop using the marketing collateral. According to a recent AMA study, only 10 percent of what marketing produces gets used by sales. In effect, they go rogue, creating their own individual sales strategies and messages. As a sales leader, the last thing you need is hundreds of playwrights telling different stories.

To be successful at insight-led selling, forward thinking sales leaders create an insight development loop connecting ideas from marketing with real customer experiences, ideas and expectations observed by the sales force. Best-practice leaders break down traditional functional silos by creating insight hubs staffed by representatives from each group. Often a sales operations leader assumes responsibility for keeping this flywheel turning. Leading edge companies have gone so far as collapsing sales and marketing into a single team under the leadership of a “Chief Sales and Marketing Officer,” a “Chief Revenue Officer,” or a “Chief Growth Officer.”

PART 2: Provision the Sales Team through a Sales Process Playbook – After breaking down traditional internal silos and creating an engine capable of developing rich insights, best practice companies use sales process playbooks as a conduit to deliver insights and a mechanism to capture voice of customer detail. Sales process playbooks guide reps by delivering insights and messaging at the stages and steps where activities naturally slot into a deal pipeline. Best-practice playbooks incorporate the “give” and the “get” required to deliver and receive insights. The playbook gives sellers meaningful insights to share with their clients throughout the sales process, and also empower (require) the sales rep to get nuggets of truth from clients. When shared with product and marketing teams, these insights help develop the voice of the customer value propositions that are then disseminated throughout the organization.

Developing a sales process playbook does not require a Ph.D. in organizational design nor should it be a time sink that distracts you and your leadership team from your next quarter revenue expectation. It is a simple three-step project:

  1. Assemble a team that consists of your best couple of front-line sales managers along with your marketing and product lead counterparts (see above) for a series of in-person design meetings.
  2. Design a process playbook that outlines the key steps to each unique sales process (Note: A unique sales process is defined by the motion required by each sales role as it relates to each customer segment). Successful playbooks employ the 80/20 rule – get 80 percent of the process right and launch to learn the last 20 percent from the practical use of the playbook.
  3. Deploy the playbook by leveraging your front-line managers. Encourage them to use the playbook as a tool in their weekly coaching sessions to drive the behaviors of gathering insights and delivering value propositions. And in order to ensure the playbook stays relevant, use your front-line managers as the source for ongoing playbook evolution.

Simply put, in a world of heightened buyer expectations and shortened attention spans, we know a dedicated, cross-functional insight team and a straight forward sales process playbook drives differentiated, sustained growth. To learn more please visit our Playbooks page.


Insight type: Article

Industry: Cross-Industry

Role: C-Suite

Topic: Sales Playbooks

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