Sales is dead. Long live sales.

Sales is dead. Long live sales.

Over the past few years there has been a significant change in buyer mentality. I touched on this in a recent blog about driving more value through discovery calls but the issue is much deeper than that.

Here’s a summary of the vast majority of sales calls that I’ve experienced (from both sides of the table)

  1. Buyer: Why should I care?
  2. Seller: Because we do X

Which begs the question… ‘why should I care?’. I know it’s obvious and I know that most people are aware of the general lack of value based selling across sales… but why is it still so prominent?

Showing me the best product in the world just isn’t good enough anymore. Let’s say I ’m the head of SEO at some big eCom company and you can show me the full search playbook of my competitors (with something like SimilarWeb). You fire up your screen-share and show me – maybe even explain where it all comes from, hoping I fall off my chair laughing at how awesome it is… but I don’t. Sound familiar?

Email tracking is a perfect example of feature-based selling, as are blogger outreach platforms, heatmap analytics and even the majority of CRMs and CMS’s. An example of value-based positioning and selling would be most A/B testing tools, they instantly lead with examples of what customers changed and quantify the impact it had on their business – wrap that in a sales process with real suggestions on the buyers live site and you’re showing instant ROI. They don’t show their product, they show the client’s website. You have to leave the universe of YOUR product and get in the head of the buyer, speak their language and communicate in value not features.

Why is feature-selling so useless these days? It’s the same reason why conventional lead-gen like volume-based sales development emails and phone calls just don’t hit the numbers… buyers don’t have the time, the patience or a short enough inbox to pay you any attention. (Lead-gen is definitely a topic for another time). Everything is a lot more competitive than it was 5 years ago so one companies ‘unique features’ are another companies ‘things we don’t bother doing because we have X which is unique to us’.

When you finally get the right person on the line. You’re speaking to someone who you know would get maximum value from your product, they’ve gone through discovery and all that jazz and are ready to be blown away. THAT’S THE KEY, they’re literally sitting at their desk, giving YOU their time, waiting to be impressed…. passively. It doesn’t matter how many times you re-qualify with “how would you integrate this?”, like it or not on the very first demo… buyers are almost always passive.

So… when you show your amazing keywords with data that could change their life, then follow up with a “make sense?” all you’re going to get is a “yep”. It’s almost standard practise these days for multiple product demos, multiple calls and lengthily sales cycles in order to ‘prove value’ and for large enterprise deals that’s fair enough… but don’t use it as an excuse for not tailoring what you do from the first second.

Sales as an industry, is generally getting better at discovery, there’s definitely much more emphasis on the user/buyer/client at that stage – but product demo’s aren’t making the same shift. Sure, you can tailor your feature-based walkthrough to your discovery notes, but there’s a massive difference between tweaking a talk track by a couple of words here and there, and blowing the clients mind.

I’ve worked in sales within promotions, consumer finance, automotive and analytics and one thing is true 100% of the time. The top performers have a fundamentally different approach to everybody else. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling something for $200 or $1,00,000 the principles are the same – people don’t like being sold to, they don’t like being harassed, they don’t like long generic presentations or feature-based walkthroughs they could get off YouTube, they want to be challenged, they want to be shown a new way of doing things, they want to be impressed and they don’t want to be the ones working on the call to get you there.

Every single person you speak to, every single time you speak to them, should leave that call/meeting with a different perspective, with more knowledge and most importantly of all, with their brain firing on all cylinders processing what they just witnessed. I listened in on a call a couple of weeks ago where the buyer wrapped up the call by saying this “I really like how you’re solving X problem (specific to them) via a/b/c and really driving value”. Notice how different that is to the seller ending the call by summarising that “that Y feature that we showed me was incredible”.

It’s not rocket science and when it comes to the analytics industry in particular, you can’t say that people like me have the edge because of our marketing backgrounds. Pick up a book, jump on an e-learning course, sit with your marketing dept. You don’t need to know how to run large scale multi-faceted marketing campaigns to understand the dynamics of how it all works in such a way that you can apply it to each individual call you make.

That’s a wrap – what do you think? Anybody want to argue it out in the comments? 🙂




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