DON'T TREAT SALES TEAMS LIKE REALITY TV CONTESTANTS
There’s been a lot of talk in our office recently about that train wreck of an Australian TV show, ‘Married at First Sight’ (MAFS to those-in-the-know apparently).
For the uninitiated, MAFS features a bunch of random people who have never previously met being paired up by ‘experts’. The first time each pair lays eyes on each other is the day they meet at the end of the aisle, just before they tie the knot (hence the title). Their big day is followed by weeks of hidden cameras, arguments and alcohol-fuelled escapades. I’m sure you can imagine the voyeuristic madness that ensues, not to mention the unsurprisingly high rates of separation.
At this point you might be asking ‘so what’s this got to do with NZ business?’ Well, in my experience, quite a lot. I’m frequently surprised by how many NZ Sales leaders treat their sales people just as if they’re contestants on MAFS. Let me explain.
As more industries become increasingly commoditised, businesses seek to create some form of differentiation by adding more and more products or services to their offering. And there’s nothing wrong with that: in many cases, the trusty old Cross Sell or ‘Land & Expand’ strategy is entirely appropriate.
The problem is, we’re just not executing this strategy very well (CSO Insights found that nearly 50% of businesses saw their Cross Sell strategies as “Needing Improvement”).
As the products and services have multiplied, so has the complexity of the sell. To address this issue, businesses have focused on trying to develop their sales teams’ knowledge of an increasingly huge list of products…some of that knowledge might even stick. Unfortunately that’s where the focus typically stops.
The result tends to be a ‘Show Up and Throw Up’ approach where the client gets bombarded with a smorgasbord of solutions that often don’t meet any of their specific requirements.
The client’s confused, your sales team are confused and you’re confused as to why you’re miles away from your “75% of our Top 50 clients purchasing more than 4 products /services by x” target.
What’s missing is the trust that B2B business relationships are built on – and you don’t gain that trust straight away. It takes time.
Outside the world of reality TV, couples don’t tend to marry at first sight. Marriage is the culmination of a relationship developed over time. Equally, the person who is now your closest friend, probably didn't attain that status within 5 minutes of meeting you. (The first time I met one of my good friends I made him cry; the 2nd time I’m pretty sure he punched me).
We all know this, it’s common sense. But in the B2B sales world we’re asking our sales people to turn that common sense on its head. We’re asking them to try to sell as many of our ever-expanding range of solutions as they can – and as quickly as possible.
As we push sales teams to sell everything at once, we’re encouraging behaviours that are more likely to bore our clients than draw them in. With so many products to sell, sales people end up droning on about features and benefits, most of which will be irrelevant to the audience at that time - and so they, quite rightly, tune out.
Maybe we just need to take a slightly longer term view - to ask more questions, actually listen to the answers, and tailor our solution to meet the client’s actual requirements.
You won’t sell everything immediately this way, but you will have an opportunity to build trust, ensure a better client relationship and give your team a genuine chance to identify more opportunities in the future.
Or you can go down that Married At First Sight path – all-in immediately and all-out just as soon.
To talk to Greg about your sales and marketing strategy, fill in the form below, email email@example.com, or call 09 366 1366.