Gartner: The Technology Sales Rep Has Lost Their Mojo!

As technology buyers have changed, now more knowledgeable, empowered and in control of the purchase decision process, technology sales reps have not evolved to keep pace, this according to a recent article by Gartner.

Unfortunately, a survey of buyers indicates that the vast majority of sales reps are adding little value to IT buyer decision making. Gartner research showed that Sales came in last place after Technical and Industry Expert, Service and Support and Senior Executives as ‘the most influential personal interactions across the entire buying cycle’.

The Gartner research highlights the Value Gap – between customers who, have become much more educated and financially focused, and sales reps that sell the same way they did in the past.

The evidence? Sales reps are being invited later and later into the decision making process, with research (from SiriusDecisions) indicating that 67% of buyers already have a “clear picture” of the solution they want before Sales Reps are engaged. And customers, they are clearly looking elsewhere for meaningful advice and interactions; challenging providers to evolve to a value selling approach or risk being left out of deal consideration all together.

Gartner highlights the following opportunities for IT sales and marketing to address now in order to close the Value Gap:

1) Eliminate Death by PowerPoint presentations – Unfortunately, most sales presentations pitch their company and products using canned PowerPoint presentations – self-centered, with most information readily available to the customer with a little online research. No wonder most customers feel that Sales is adding little to no value and doing nothing more than repeating what they can find on their own. What prospects really want is not “death by PPT” presentations, but more custom, tailored, business and industry specific conversations, helping to diagnose ‘their’ key issues, illuminating the “cost of do nothing”, and highlighting how a particular solution can enhance ‘their’ business and deliver tangible bottom-line impact.

2) Facilitate the Decision Making Journey – For sales reps to be perceived as value-focused, they need to helps customers make more informed purchase decisions:
a.  In the initial portion of the cycle, Ideas and Exploration, sales reps need to help prospects illuminate and diagnose their issues, and motivate change – “Quantify the Pain”.
b.   In the middle phase, Evaluation, sales reps need to help prospects understand the various solution approaches and prioritize investment in this project versus all others - “Justify the Gain”. 
c.   In later phases, Selection, sales reps need to help differentiate the lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and unique value – “Prove You Are Not the Same”.
3) Customer Intelligence vs. Process Intelligence – Unfortunately, traditional CRM tracks and reports on metrics that are internally oriented, gathering intelligence not about what’s valuable to the customer, but valuable to the internal sales process. In order to close the Value Gap, current sales metrics need to dramatically change, measuring the different decision makers being engaged, their unique customer challenges, the “cost of do nothing” and potential value impacts.

According to Gartner, left unresolved, the Value Gap can place much of your marketing and demand generation activities at risk. Without an evolution in your content marketing and sales enablement – “growing market share and expanding your brands influence becomes that much more difficult. Sales leaders must help their sellers adjust and understand that customers expect more than they are getting today and when done correctly they will reward them with their business.”

The Gartner research is outlined in this blog article by  Tiffani Bova at:


Comments

Timothy Hughes said…
Like the blog post, currently under taking a major change program to Social Selling and this really resonates.
Timothy Hughes said…
Tom - Like the article, currently under taking a Social Selling change program and this really resonates. Thanks for this.
Mark said…
This highlights a need for more training and support for the sales people to add value. The Challenger Sales model has much to offer here.
Mark Stonham. Social Selling Consultant. Wurlwind.
Steve Patti said…
Tom - astute points and I have blogged about this for a while as a CMO. I was at the IDC Directions event in Boston earlier this month and it was a topic among CMOs - namely, we are all aligning our marketing around buyer journeys while Sales VPs are neither being exposed to this concept, nor drinking the Kool Aid. So the CMO is "damned if they do (respect the buyer journey) and damned if they don't (pressure leads into talking to the Sales team)."

I just published an article in my LinkedIn profile discussing this "microwave mentality" to engaging buyers (linkedin.com/in/stevepatti)

Keep up the good work.
This would be true of Sales Reps who have failed to keep pace with the evolving buying cycle of their prospects.

Leading Sales Reps have gone deep into understanding a particular business and how their solution enable them to increase revenue and save cost (two basic business fundamentals.) These sales reps question how an organization does business and provide insight as to potential improvements.

Buyers are better informed and they want sales people that can show what they're not seeing. They want advisors, not appointment makers. The best sales reps I've met get that. They got that even before technology changed their game.
Tom Pisello said…
Frederic,

I know this all seems obvious, but the numbers indicate that the obvious does not = proper action.

Forrester indicates that only 1 in 10 reps are perceived as value-focused by buyers (this is down from 12% last year - so going the WRONG way).

60% of buyers are disengaging with sales reps because they don't feel reps understand their challenges and can communicate value of proposed solutions.

And the #1 issue for quota shortfalls remains (3 years in a row now) - failure to communicate value.

So, although I agree that a value approach makes total sense … the numbers indicate that the majority of sales reps have not evolved in the obvious ways we believe they should

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