Acknowledging a weakness is the first step towards improvement. Our society has created a hesitancy, especially among high level professional, to admit when things aren’t going smoothly. The competitive nature of the business world has fostered an environment where admitting shortcomings is perceived as a sign of weakness. So, I’ll start.
We’re failing our sales team
We’ve combed through the arsenals of sales enablement tools, from playbooks to training programs, portals to onboarding materials. We’ve found a gaping hole in the foundation of our reps’ sales knowledge. We’ve been arming our reps all wrong. We’ve given them the ‘what’ – what we’re selling, the features, benefits, specs, but we’re missing the ‘who’.
We’ve prepped them with product knowledge, but they don’t know anything about who our buyers are. We haven’t prepared them with intel on how our buyers make decisions, the KPIs that they track and focus on, the business problems that cause them headaches.
We need a seismic shift in our approach. We’re not selling a product; we’re helping a specific person. We need to start equipping our reps with intelligence beyond the features.
ICP centered playbooks
I want you to rethink your playbooks, possibly a complete overhaul. Our mission is to help our reps develop connections with our ICP, almost to the point where they can finish each other’s sentences. Reps should understand their language and lingo, their challenges, and their victories. If you’re selling to warehouse management, your reps should know everything short of forklift operation before they approach a prospect.
Dissect your ICP’s KPIs with your reps. Which KPIs are crucial to their operation? For warehouse management, reps should know how they calculate efficiency, inventory accuracy, and fulfillment speed. Where do the common issues lie and what challenges are they continuously addressing? How do their KPIs affect the organization’s bottom line and where does your solution alleviate the burden?
Revamp sales rep certifications
Trash your checkbox certifications. We need a way to tangibly measure our rep’s understanding of our buyers. Find a certification protocol that screams, ‘I not only know what we’re selling; I understand our ICP like it’s my left hand.’
Evaluate their grasp of the unique challenges and impacts on ICP businesses. For supply chain management software, reps should be near experts in real-time tracking, demand forecasting, and inventory optimization. They should know how a hiccup in real-time tracking can send a shockwave to the company’s revenue stream or how a demand forecasting glitch can dent client retention.
Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce. The buyer-centric information can’t be one and done. Integrate ICP knowledge into daily practices and discussions.
CRMs must have a designated spot for buyer knowledge. Each time a record is pulled from a CRM there should be a clear snapshot of who the buyer is, where they struggle, and how our solution fits their organization.
Deal reviews should go beyond what went well and what didn’t. Pick holes in your rep’s knowledge, find the gaps in the understanding of that buyer. Who are the characters in the buyer’s story, what is the plot, how does our solution help the buyer skip the conflict sections of the book?
Build new reports
Curate reports that go beyond the basics – close dates, deal stages, etc. Build reports that highlight what others might overlook. What are the common problems surfacing in our deals? What’s the magnitude of these issues and what is the cost of inaction? What is the impact of our sellers on the buyer’s journey?
Stop training order takers
The core of this shift lies in moving away from training order takers and instead to cultivating market experts. Buyers are not interested in your product; they want a solution to their business problems. Arming our sellers with an in-depth understanding of these problems creates trusted advisors. Rather than feature dumps, reps should be able to have conversations with buyers that address their challenges. Linking the product directly to the challenges and expressing the tangible benefits. Key word, tangible.
Rethinking sales enablement
Buyer-centric enablement ultimately benefits the buyer. Investing in proper education of your sales team focused on your customers, they are not only able to identify customer problems but anticipate them. Buyers will be genuinely thankful for the insights and solutions brought to the table by your team.
Finding the common ground between what buyers seek and what we offer requires a revamped sales enablement strategy. Start building a new playbook, implementing certification processes, and daily buyer-centric knowledge practices. Move your team from order takers to expert consultants in your ICP’s world.