By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
The amount of interest in learning about offerings is inversely proportional to the level within an organization that sellers call. Unfortunately product training better prepares salespeople to discuss product with lower levels than making executive calls.
When making high-level calls, sellers may want to keep a few things in mind:
- The initial effort should be to learn/uncover business goals or pains executives have that your offering can be used to achieve or address. Key Players should be willing to spend money to achieve these business outcomes. Ultimately a cost vs. benefit will be the value of realizing the outcome(s) compared to the cost of the offering being considered.
- Once business goals have been shared, sellers should focus on helping Key Players understand why they can’t be achieved without their offerings. Some things to consider in making executive calls:
- Most buyers are unaware of barriers that stand in the way of achieving goals. Think about it: If they knew they were aware they would try to address them.
- Key Players have potential latent needs for capabilities that address barriers. Selling can then be viewed as diagnosing barriers with a bias toward offerings. It will muddle issues if barriers are identified that cannot be addressed.
- The way Key Players respond to diagnostic questions will allow sellers to determine the features/capabilities that are relevant. Any capabilities the buyer doesn’t appear to need should not be presented.
- By taking the previous steps, presentations of offerings will cover a relatively small percentage of the total feature set. Key Players appreciate this “Cliff Notes” version. Few will tolerate standard product pitches that amount to “spray and pray” sales calls.
Hurt and Rescue
Executive calls can be viewed as “hurt and rescue” exercises once business outcomes have been uncovered. Sellers “hurt” buyers by helping them realize how their current approaches are broken. Once done the “rescue” is done by uncovering only the capabilities that address barriers that buyers agreed exist.
Calls done in this manner mean first discussing executives’ businesses (about 80% calls) and capabilities within offerings with a focus on helping buyers understand how offerings can be used (about 20% of the time). At Key Player levels it is critical that sellers earn the right to talk about their offerings. It can be a differentiator by providing better buying experiences.