What do sales leaders believe are the keys to great sales performance in 2015? It turns out that the two areas they say are most vital to sales effectiveness share a common foundation: Great alignment with marketing.
A recent survey from CSO Insights found that among 11 areas of effectiveness, sales leaders rank two priorities above the rest:
- Improve B2B lead generation effectiveness (47.9 percent)
- Improve ability to show strategic benefit/value (34.7 percent)
To the first point: Sales doesn’t get more qualified leads without provocative, insight-rich campaigns that get prospects to raise their hands and take action. And, secondly salespeople can’t hope to articulate and demonstrate value without the benefit of great positioning or differentiated solution stories, both of which marketing plays a major role in shaping.
So, the top priorities identified by sales managers in the survey are less a sales problem and more a sales and marketing alignment problem. That’s why staying effective in the priorities mentioned above requires a cooperative effort between those who build the story and those who tell it.
Here are a few ways you can make it happen:
- Develop a great “why change” story – Establish a distinct point of view founded on a powerful “why change” story – one that creates opportunity and forces prospects to reassess their status quo situation. You can do this most effectively by identifying and introducing your prospects “unconsidered needs” – the issues, challenges and trends they don’t yet know about. This gives you a strong base for creating a buying vision that gives prospects a compelling reason to change, and creates enough urgency to convince them to do it now.
- Create truly differentiated positioning – Once you’ve defeated the status quo, the onus is on you to create separation between you and the competition with a great “why you” conversation. A powerful way to do that is by taking the unconsidered needs you identified in the “why change” conversation and connecting them to your unexpected or unknown strengths. By doing so, you’ll tell a story that clearly distinguishes your solution and naturally points to you as the undisputed choice to resolve their problems.
- Equip your reps with tools that make an impact right away – You’re telling provocative and powerful stories in the field. Why should the tools your reps use to tell those stories be any different? Your sales enablement tools and skills training should be just as remarkable as the stories your salespeople tell. That means they should be visually engaging, insight-rich, and aligned to messaging of your demand generation activities, so you can sustain the momentum initiated by your campaign. The best sales enablement tools will instill confidence, enable reps to create opportunity on the first call, and give them a specific, visually powerful choreography to guide prospects from the status quo to the “new safe” of your solution.