Channel partners, Sales and marketing

Can Your Salespeople Lead A Business Conversation?

The role of sales has clearly changed.  We no longer have to spend our time educating customers about our products and solutions. Beside, too often, they really don’t care about our products and their capabilities. If we can’t talk to them about our solutions, then what’s left?  What do we talk to them about?

I guess, we have to focus on what interests them. Their jobs, roles, goals, aspirations. We need to talk about their challenges, opportunities, problems they may be having. We need to talk about their customers, their competition, their industry — and their potential impact on the customer.

We have to connect what our customers do with the goals and priorities of their management. What they do every day has to contribute to the execution of the customer business strategies.

Our conversations can’t be idle conversations–our customers don’t have the time for these conversations, and they don’t help us achieve our objectives.

We have to focus on customers who have problems or opportunities we can address.

How to Calculate ROI

Our conversations have to be purposeful, we have to anchor our conversations in facts and data. This means talking about the numbers. Current performance, future potential.

To talk about the numbers, we need to understand what they mean—not just intellectually, for example, we all know what ROI means and how to calculate a ROI, but what are the underlying things that drive it?

As a result, we need to really understand how business works.  We need to be conversant about our customer and their operations.  We need to see areas where they can change and improve.  We need to know how those changes and improvements ripple up to the overall corporate objectives, connecting the dots between the operations we impact and the strategies of the organization.

We have to have business relevant conversations with our customers.

Time for a Deeper Conversation

As managers and leaders, what are you doing to help your salespeople have conversations about your customers’ businesses?

  • Have you gone beyond teaching them about your products?
  • Are you teaching them about their customers, their businesses, their customers markets?
  • Do they understand key issues, trends, challenges, directions, metrics?  Do they understand what the metrics mean, the things that underly the metrics?
  • Can they assess your customers’ operations, identifying opportunities they may be missing, can they identify potential performance problems?
  • Can they carry on a conversation, probing and challenging the customer about their business?

We need to be relevant and impactful.  Being able to conduct a business conversation with our customers it critical to engaging and creating value.

This year, make sure you prepare your people to have business conversations with your customers.

David Brock is president of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a management consulting firm focused on sales productivity, channel development, strategic alliances and more. Read more of his blogs here.