By Peter Mollins
Sales is a performance art. You’re up on a virtual (or real!) stage with virtually no time to deeply consider what to do next. And just like a great improv performance, a seller can inspire and engage prospects when they respond to the specific needs of prospects in real-time.
Consider a few real-world sales scenarios:
- A competitor has planted landmines for you; now your champion is asking pointed questions that they’ve fed to you.
- A prospect wants to know pricing before you’ve had a chance to establish business value.
- An existing customer wants to know the benefit of a new product your business just launched.
The challenge for the seller — and the sales enablement team — is that to respond effectively the seller needs information and insight to communicate to her buyer. But the needed information is specific to a certain sales context. And a seller could never be expected to memorize and know every piece of information for every sales situation.
Providing Guidance Through Context
The way around this challenge is for sales enablement tactics to be dynamic. When you can suggest insights and data that are relevant to a seller’s sales situation, it can be used immediately. Generic training or product information is important as a backdrop. But buyers with the above concerns and questions aren’t going to be satisfied with generic responses. They want information specific to their exact needs.
Let’s look at a few examples of how situational guidance can come in handy based on the challenges above.
Scenario 1: Competitor Landmines — watch out!
Your main competition knows your seller is trying to get into the same account. So, unbeknownst to your seller, they told your shared champion about your product’s Achilles heel. And they’re waiting for the deal to come their way.
No problem – if your seller knows that that competitor is involved, they can get insights specific to that competitor. That might include responses to disarm that landmine. It could even be landmines of your own to set for the competitor. The tables are turned!
Scenario 2: Asking for Pricing Too Soon for Your Process
You want your sellers to offer pricing at a certain stage after a certain amount of information has been gathered. But what if the buyer is not interested in respecting your sales process. What if they just want to know pricing now before you’re ready, and they won’t take no for an answer?
Not an issue. A great situational guide will provide a seller with ways to deflect the challenge, or respond with estimated pricing that keeps the conversation going.
Scenario 3: New Product Information
Your research and development department just produced a powerful new offer. It has the potential to reshape your market — if prospects and sellers only knew about it. You need to get the right training and guidance about the product into sellers’ hands.
There are two big trigger points for delivering this guidance.
- When there’s the most excitement about the product, e.g. at launch time
- When there’s a potential matching need, e.g. a prospect seems to be a good match for the product
Perfect. You just need to match the timing of delivery of information about the product to both triggers.
How Do You Trigger Guidance?
We’ve seen how useful situational guidance can be, so how do you “activate” it? Here are three key ways to make it a reality:
- Trigger Based on Sales Situation: If I’m a seller and I have an opportunity in an industry that is targeted by a new offer, I should get information and guidance about that offer so I’m ready. An effective trigger could be achieved by triggering on my sales record.
- Trigger Based on Role: Who I Am and What I Do in an organization can influence the kinds of situations I’m in. An SDR, for instance, may be extremely interested in call scripts that a technical architect wouldn’t be. So, serving up the right insights by role can be very powerful.
These two kinds of triggers are prescriptive in nature. The seller didn’t need to proactively look for guidance. The guidance was prescribed based on their sales situation.
- Trigger Based on a Wizard, Search, or Selection: Other times, a seller may want to find guidance that matches their sales situation. Rather than search being the only approach, they should be able to input their needs and get detailed insights. A wizard-like approach lets the seller respond to progressive sets of narrowing questions until the seller gets the guidance they need.
Situational guidance is a powerful approach to make your sellers outstanding performance artists. They’ll be equipped with the insights, information, and other guidance to help advance a deal no matter what situation they’re put it.
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