LAJ ARTICLES

Building a Sales Assembly line. Pt 2. Define It or the Prospect Will

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{When a product or service is being formulated and it’s market still only intuitively understood the CEO, company and those on its periphery have an urgency to get it into the wild.
The company wants to test the market appetite, tolerance, pricing. They are unsure of its utility and value, the mission becomes neither sales or reconnaissance. They print glossy but not specific sales collateral and stuff that into the briefcases of the sales reps, and those sales people, are kicked out of the house and commanded to sell. Without a rigidly defined product and processes they are must use an excess of persuasion, charms, responsiveness and discretionary effort to get meetings, pitch and maybe close deals.
Pricing will be inconsistent. It becomes the burden of the prospect to compute how much it’s worth. Every client a one-off, the sales pipeline will peak and valley.
There will be high attrition of sales reps. The best salespeople are disciplined hoplites who stay in formation. If the best aren’t selling, if they are asked to improvise, to compromise their livelihood, they will leave. The sales reps that remain are likely the ones who have no place else to go. You are left with adverse selection in sales.
That station on the sales assembly line is broken. We need to fix this and get alignment with all those other stations that cold call, pitch and convert a prospect to a client.
A product/service has to be precisely defined long before it meets a prospect. Its exact use case, testimonials (if available), how it is implemented, how it is priced, how it will make their lives better, the ‘enrollment fee’ and what is included and why, the value creation (not savings. Savings is not value creation, are you creating ‘value’ when you buy cereal on sale?), how the marketing and education will be rolled out, how it interacts with each department, Where to expect disruptions in implementation and how to mitigate, what is the process if the client decides they don’t like the product and want to detach, who on both sides will take ownership of the comments of the implementation, the jargon has to be adopted by the prospect and given definitions.
If all this isn’t computed before the product hits the wild the prospect will arrive at their own answers. If you are relying on the back and forth of sales to client and persuasion for them to make the leap of faith you will fail. Let’s look at what is happening in the meeting:
The sales rep makes a cold call, they get some interest from the other side. a meeting is booked. That person becomes the advocate. The meeting includes other participants from the prospect, maybe several departments are present.
The advocate will most likely be generous and forgiving. When they hear they pitch they are projecting their most optimistic scenario. Their internal dialogue is projecting into the future and all is great, they are the hero, the CEO pats them on the back and it’s a job well done.
But, that’s not how the other participaints will see it. It is a blank screen and they will project the worst case scenario, their internal dialogue is looking at disruption, failure, embarrassment, upset employees, a threat to their career..
This is the problem when you let the market tell you ‘what it is’ and ‘what its worth’. The advocate will give it a premium, their optimistic scenario envisions the product working ideally, that is worth the extra money. The other participants are going down their checklist and the unknowns and uncertainties tick down the value. You have one advocate, everybody else in that meeting will rally forces and poison your well.
The only way to resolve this is not give the sceptics any opportunity to be critical. To move them into the advocate column we need to have their concerns allayed before they are even addressed. We cannot risk giving them a blank screen to project onto. We must define precisely what ‘it’ is in advance of the meeting, this way their questions won’t validate their fears but rather resolve them.
The End?
This is a long essay that I have divided up into its component pieces:
The Cultural Shift
Define It or the Prospect Will
Exploiting the First Mover Advantage
Reverse Engineering a 300% Price Increase
Each Sales Office is a Franchise
Why Good Salespeople Fail
Why The CEO Should Not Be Selling
Intimacy is a Premium
Breeding Your Competitors
SDR’s. Million Dollar Solution. Hundred Dollar Problem

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