To be successful, sales tools need to be appropriate for the time in the sales cycle when they are used.
Too many sales tools answer the question Why Us? before the prospect is looking to change. Or, they answer the question Why Change? but simply drive prospects into the arms of competitors because they fail to then promote their own services.
Early in the Sales Cycle
At the start of the sales cycle, prospects might not be aware that they have a problem. They might not recognise that a problem they have can be solved. They could have no knowledge of the market you are in, or the vendors who might want to help them. At this stage, messaging needs to focus on bringing out the problems that they have, and all the messy implications. Fear of change, and a certain inertia are the main obstacle to overcome. You need to make it very clear that the prospect has a problem – if they realise it or not – and that the problem is hurting them – perhaps in subtle ways – but it is hurting.
For BrightCarbon, this might mean persuading prospects that the sales presentations they are using don’t work, and that they are missing out deals as a result. This has to happen before any conversation about why we are the best option to help a prospect with their sales presentation. Otherwise, the prospect just isn’t interested yet. They aren’t looking for a new sales presentation.
Later in the Sales Cycle
Once a prospect acknowledges they have a problem, they start to try and find somebody who can help them to solve it. At this point, messaging needs to answer the question Why Us? Why is BrightCarbon the right choice for sales presentations and not somebody else? Sometimes you can answer these two questions – Why Change? Why With Us? one after the other in a single meeting. Other times they get answered months apart. In a pitch, the Why Change? question might be answered well before you even meet the prospect. But the point is, you need to be very clear about where you are in the sales cycle, and which of these questions you are answering.
Linking Sales Messages at the Start and End of the Sales Cycle
If you are being really clever, you should make sure that the reasons that you give to change anticipate the answers you want to give to the Why Change With Us? question. So, as an example, at BrightCarbon one of the things we do that’s a bit different is provide aftercare with our presentations, and a narrated version of the sales presentations we create, so that our clients get good adoption rates by sales. If that’s part of our answer to the question Why With Us? then a good answer to ‘Why Change?’ might be that sales people are all wasting their time doing their own thing. If they don’t adopt a solution – that won’t stop – and getting sales people to do what you want them to do is actually pretty hard.
Set Clear Objectives to Inform Sales Messages
For each sales presentation you create try to answer the following questions:
- What is your audience thinking before you present?
- What motivates the key decision maker? What buttons can you push?
- What do you want the audience to think after they have seen your presentation?
- Are you answering Why Change? Why With Us? or both?
- What do you want the audience to do as a result of your presentation? What’s the immediate next step?
- What can you do so that your audience feel a sense of urgency?
Don’t write the presentation until you have answered these questions. Then, once you know what you want them to think and do, be clear about how you can achieve these objectives. Be really concrete – it isn’t good enough to just say that you want them to buy something, if actually the next step in your process is to get them to sign-up for a free trial…