Before sellers can work on leads, they need a framework to work on sales. There are a number of frameworks used for these, but none should be universally applied. Instead, to meet the needs of most startups, let’s break things down into a few basic points:
Mechanics: Managing the sales using the existing technology. A how-to guide could be a simple Confluence page. This helps us all get aligned and be on the same page. That guide should be simple but go through what to put into each field. That should be guarded, so weekly go through the leads a seller is working, check the data integrity, and then review the status of each. If things get to the point that you don’t have time to go through each, re-evaluate reporting structures, etc.
Assets: PDFs, links, and other assets we can send to customers to help respond to questions that map their priorities to our product. For this, it’s good to have a page on confluence that lists assets created by the team that these new sellers can send to potential customers. That will expand over time, but a single page with a table connecting them to assets is a great start.
Train on a basic framework: There’s a chance that pulling a framework out of a box (e.g. Solutions Based Selling, Sandler Selling System, etc) is a good long-term solution for hiring purposes, more rapid onboarding, etc. But with a smaller team, having a lightweight framework might be best. Looking at some of the existing frameworks, let’s look at a simple structure to lay out a sales call:
Understand Customer Priorities
One of the most important things we can give new sellers is to help them understand what our customers need. Here, we want to define what customers need out of a product simply and succinctly and in a few different ways. It's good to target a one page document that isn't for external uses.
These evolve into the questions a seller will ask in order to qualify the lead (potentially in a quantifiable fashion based on the answers to these questions. For example (with some canned responses):
What are the executive priorities coming to the team at a customer site that will use our product? We need to stop building features customers don’t want as one of many ways to reduce software development costs and time to market.
Which can we impact? How? We provide a structured approach to maintaining notes that developers can see to help prove…
Define Initiatives at the customer:
How is the customer advancing their priorities? We’re hopefully hiring two new team members to and creating a template to add notes into Confluence.
Is there a defined initiative to address the priority? We’re waiting to get budget to hire those team members.
Has the department approved any initiatives that can help? The executive sponsor is the VP, but we haven’t gotten the other VP stakeholder on board yet.
We also want to align the team to a standard methodology to keep teams working in a consistent manner. All while helping you analyze data. Part of this is to show the business impact our product has and why the customer should work with us, establishing legitimate authority in the space. Let's look at a few questions and canned responses to provide to our new sellers:
Define how that impact links to existing initiatives and executive priorities: This provides a higher level of confidence in data and provides the ability to send a link to anyone in the organization that securely shows raw notes with a sentiment score. Once teams have confidence in the process, they buy into the mission.
Why should the customer believe we are well positioned to help them solve the problem? One of the reasons I love working here is the references, customer quotes, track record, and the historical expertise. The founders lived and breathed this problem for decades and solved it with a portal that gives customers their experience without having to hire someone that’s been around so long in a growing industry.
What evidence increases the customer confidence? We have hundreds of customers that have shown a huge uptick in productivity using our solution. Would you like me to put you in touch with one?
This is just a start and every organization will have different needs. A good seller will be differentiated by how much they can tailor these quotes, statements, and perform subsequent objection handling, to the responses from customers.
Having a quiver full of these quotes that they’ve made their own allows them to overcome many objections. Therefore a great first exercise is to provide any planned materials to sellers and see how they make the assets their own by rephrasing questions and responses. This also helps us identify areas where they don't understand our mission and how we communicate that mission to customers.
Building a collection of assets sellers can send to customers comes in many forms. One of which is quotes in various press outlets or those approved by customers to post on a website. But the ones that help sellers become acquainted with the problem space are often a bit more specific and often now created for public consumption.