Some organizations spend countless resources ensuring their sellers understand their company’s products/services. Product specialists with a significant depth of knowledge on technologies/feature-sets/functions are the norm for companies trying to differentiate their approach and provide additional value to their customers. Often, these masters can quote chapter and verse from service manuals inches thick. Unfortunately, we mold these folks to be better technologists, not better business people. This is a huge problem.
A solution in search of a problem…
Product specialists trained to be “technologists” typically approach customers with boatloads of technology. It is as if they are a solution in search of a problem. Sometimes they get lucky. Most times, not. These reps can be walking/talking product manuals. But most product specialists couldn’t tell you their customer’s visions, goals, plans, processes, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats.
What’s causing this?
In most situations, THE ONLY true differentiator of products and services is the impact they have on the businesses that buy them. How do they affect what customers are trying to accomplish as a business? Does it help them support their vision, meet business goals, better implement plans, minimize business weaknesses, maximize strengths? If not, we become just another vendor peddling the same products/services as others. As a result, customers perceive there are limited differences in different solutions being offered. If they make a purchase decision, many times price becomes the determining factor.
Sales organizations must have BUSINESS conversations and understand how customers measure success. This must be done BEFORE discussing products/services. Moreover, successful reps provide significant strategic value by demonstrating measurable impact. This includes their customer’s productivity, efficiency, image, expenses, revenue, safety, security, and stability.
Here are some points for product specialists & salespeople to consider.
- First, your sales process should provide a foundation for sellers to understand the customer’s business first
- Second, talk to a broad spectrum of people in your customer’s business outside of IT and/or purchasing
- Third, know the vision, goals, plans, processes, strengths, and weaknesses of your customers OUTSIDE the realm of your company’s products/services.
- Fourth, discuss customer issues BEFORE you discuss your products