Instead of asking WHEN or HOW, Sarah intuitively kept asking WHY deals were expected to close. As the new VP of Sales for ERP Corp, the superficial answers she received from her salespeople confirmed that she had not inherited a healthy pipeline. In fact, it was a sewer-line full of zombie companies with no clear rationale for change.
The problem was that her salespeople were relying too heavily on the sales engineers to do their selling, and as a result, the initial meetings were too product-centric. Instead, Sarah wanted her salespeople to first help the customer to discover WHY they should buy, before involving the sales engineers to provide proof on HOW the product works. As Sarah’s mentor said: “Sales must open the gap before they can close it.”
Why you need to achieve true sales wisdom
To achieve this goal, the salespeople would have to improve not only their product, but also their customer knowledge. With this combined knowledge, Sarah felt her salespeople would gain sales wisdom. Sales wisdom, to Sarah, is like GPS for salespeople. It enables salespeople to step away from their product, enter the customer’s world, and meet the customer where they are, so that they can lead them where they need to go. Sarah felt that, without sales wisdom, her salespeople would allow the sales engineers to take the customers on a deep dive into the product, and then leave it up to them to plan their own route. No wonder the majority of their deals ended in no-decision. If customers could do this on their own, wouldn’t they have already bought? It was like asking customers to fly to a foreign country and get in a taxi with a driver who has no clue where they’re going. Sure the driver may have a great car, but the passenger just wants to be transported from point A to B.
Product marketing tried to help sales, but what they produced was too far removed from real customer interactions. The 2-hour product training webinars or the 47-page product PDF flooded the sales team with too much information. Somehow salespeople were expected to convert a product manual into an executive conversation, and the customer case studies were too product-centric. The case studies were great as proof once the customer decided to change, but they did little to inspire WHY customers should change.