Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sales Success rests on building Strategic Roadmap with Customers

In today’s tough selling environment, a sales enablement best practice is to deliver tools to help sales professionals compete better. Most sales enablement groups have started to implement best practices to help connect better with customers in the later stages of the sales cycle, including tools to create better business cases (ROI Analyses), deliver and quantify competitive comparisons (TCO analyses), provide better RFP responses, and build better proposals.

But a recent blog entry by Scott Santucci, Senior Analyst for Forrester caught my eye, positing that sales enablement spends too much time trying to get sales professionals to better respond to customer needs late in the sales cycle, and not enough time engaging with the customer on creating a shared vision. The customer vision the sales person needs to create is how to specifically solve the business problems they’re facing.

As Forrester outlines, there are three important elements to vision success:

1) Authentic — it has to be real, well-researched, and obtainable.
2) Applicable — it has to be communicated in the context of the account and the stakeholder.
3) Actionable — the path (and the required details) to realizing that vision are mapped out into an understandable approach, but also simplified so the program doesn’t collapse under its own complexity.

The blog entry can be found at: http://blogs.forrester.com/tech_sales_enablement/2009/09/the-quest-for-vision-selling-ahead-of-the-rfp-.html

Alinean concurs from implementing over 1,000 different sales enablement campaigns, that earlier in the sales cycle sales teams indeed need to connect better with customers goals and help them develop strategic roadmaps for success. Too often we see sales professionals jump to product recommendations and try to deliver tactical ROI analyses on specific projects, when the customer still is undecided on a roadmap.

Forrester indicates that, “significantly better returns await those who invest in programs to help customers shape a solution vision. This is done by creating scalable and repeatable programs to help sales people more easily collaborate with executives to develop a shared vision of success for a given account.”

Such a shared vision and solution roadmap can allows sales professionals to move from products sales to trusted advisor.

How can this be done? Some of the most successful programs we have created recently provide strategic focused assessment tools to help sales professionals, in a structured and methodical, yet easy way to prepare a strategic roadmap for their customers:

These tools are designed to automate the strategic assessment and roadmap building process by:

· Assessing a prospect on their current capability and maturity – providing an assessment of areas where improvements are needed

· Scoring the current performance dynamically versus industry leaders and peer averages – highlighting where issues are greatest, and providing competitive comparisons for motivation

· Mapping solutions to solve each problem area – automatically recommending a strategic roadmap to close capability and maturity gaps and best address indicated pain points

· Delivering high level quantification of what savings / value can be derived by implementing the suggested roadmaps

These tools have been implemented for Microsoft, HP, Unisys (in collaboration with partner IDG), EMC, VMware, and RedHat - all with significant success. These assessment sales tools have been proven to help sales professionals build strategic vision for customers, significantly advancing and elevating their relationship with customers, and deliver significant return on sales enablement investment.

One of the best examples of this program is Microsoft IO Self Assessments and can be found at:

http://www.microsoft.com/optimization/tools/overview.mspx

No comments: