When companies introduce new products and services, everyone is excited and upbeat - especially sales force. They have a new reason to go back to old customers, a chance to knock out competitors and potential to have a great year selling.
Yet all too often, things don’t quite work out as planned and sales come in slower than everyone projected. The tension rises. Marketing and Sales start pointing fingers, blaming each other for lackluster results.
Sound familiar? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen in my years as a consultant. Lots of factors are involved, but today we’re going to look at one that salespeople have total control over.
Recently I worked with a company who had just introduced a new technology product. It was way ahead of competition and had a strong value proposition. I spent a day out in field with one of their salespeople to get a better understanding of their sales process.
He was a real nice guy. He’d been with company for thirteen years and always done a decent job. We had an appointment with a good prospect - someone he had called on before, but never done business with. The sales rep’s plan was to leverage this meeting into a full-blown needs analysis.
Everything started out fine, but within 10 minutes he was heading into deep trouble. It all started when he mentioned his excitement with their new product. The buyer asked some techie questions that sales rep understood. They talked some more. Then, buyer asked near-fatal question, “Do you have a brochure?”
Now you’re probably thinking that’s a good sign - that this guy was interested and sales rep was doing a great job. Well, that’s just what sales rep thought too.
He quickly pulled one from his briefcase and laid it on desk between them. The buyer leaned forward and started reading. “Can it do this?” he asked, referring to a specific capability. “How about that? What speed? How does it connect?” The barrage of questions continued for what seemed like an eternity to me.
The sales rep was getting even more excited. He pointed out other features they’d stressed at launch meeting, highlighting how much better they were than what else was on market. The buyer’s head was nodding, as if in agreement.