97% of B2B customers rate a sales rep’s ability to offer unique and valuable perspectives as among the top drivers that led to closed deals. Coming in close at almost 90% is the ability to educate the client and help them avoid landmines within their own industry.
In other words, sales reps who challenge & teach their clients with business insights are shooting well past the competition.
The question is, just where do we find these insights?
Insights in Action: A Success Story
I know a sales rep who recently closed a pretty large deal with one of the largest producers of washing machines in Europe.
He provided solutions that helped companies move their business online and save costs, and had recently done business with the other largest washing machine producer in Europe. So when he came in to see his client, he already had a few insights about what was going on in the industry.
After a short discussion, the client thanked the rep and said he was impressed with his offering, but they were doing just fine the way things were and didn’t need a new solution.
At that point, this rep challenged his client and asked him just how much of his business was coming from online sales?
20%, answered the client, and as a result they were saving a lot of money.
Was the client aware that online sales was accounting for 80% of his competitor’s business?
The client sat up.
The sales rep had his full attention, and it didn’t take much more effort before they closed a deal a few months later.
Empowering the Client and Establishing Trust
Through his insight, this sales rep pointed out a problem that his client didn’t even know he had – that what the client thought was pretty great (his online sales) turned out to be not so good compared to his competitor (way more online sales).
Because of how much exposure this rep had to companies within this market,
he knew more about the industry than his clients, and he was able to leverage that knowledge to challenge his client.
By empowering his client to gain insight into his own business, this sales rep positioned himself as someone the client could trust and look to for additional information.
And in sales, trust is a golden ticket.
Now, this rep is a natural challenger. He has an eye for trends and sees opportunities where few do.
The question is: where can the rest of us find these insights?
The Best Sources for Insights
1. The Last Place You’d Think…
The best source for industry know-how and business insights might be the one you least expect: your own product marketing team.
It’s no secret that in many companies, sales and marketing have a not so pleasant relationship, with sales blaming marketing for terrible leads and marketing blaming sales for being too lazy to follow up.
But really, the problem comes down to just a simple lack of communication.
Marketing is all the time creating content to attract customers within a ‘marketing bubble,’ with no input from sales and no idea of whether their content is actually leading to more sales or not.
Bridge that gap, and you’ll have a marketing team that’s producing high-quality, relevant sales content that reps can use to gain insights.
It’s not as difficult as it sounds, and a sales playbook can make a big difference in making it happen.
Imagine if sales reps were able to use a playbook to rate and comment on the content they were provided. Not only would marketing be able to use that feedback to tailor new content to the needs of sales, but other sales reps would see what’s useful and what’s not, and stay focused on the material that’s generating insight and closing deals.
2. Tribal Knowledge
The other major sources of insights are your fellow sales reps – the A-players who are consistently shooting past their quota.
They already have the insights that are closing more deals, why can’t everyone else?
Again, a sales playbook is a critical tool to make that happen.
If the sales rep in the example above wrote down his success story, entered it into a playbook, and tagged it to the right industry, then every rep in the company, world-wide, would be able to read it, reference it, and take the same insight to their clients.
In this case, you’d have reps empowered to reach an entirely new level of sales, which previously only the best of the best could reach. Because they would go out armed with all of the knowledge and insight they would need to teach their clients.
Smart sales teams know that without unique insights to offer their clients, they won’t get very far. Implementing a sales playbook is a simple but effective way to find these insights.
And with competition getting fiercer by the day, sales reps need every advantage they can find.
So, to summarize, having a playbook that allows you to:
• Get the tailored information you need to educate your client,
• Give feedback to product marketing through a ratings system,
• And contribute from the field
will ensure that you and your team have the insights you need to drive more sales.