Moving From Products to Solutions

Aon Hewitt, a provider of human capital and management consulting services, made a big shift in its sales conversations, putting its sales team in a position to talk about issues and insights instead of just features and benefits. The change is making a huge difference in the quality of their conversations in the field.

The “before” and “after” story tells it best, as Andrea Armstrong, VP global commercial operations, noted in her sales breakout track. Before embracing an insights-focused, customer-centric approach, the company’s sales conversations were dominated by seller-centric messaging, with nearly 60 percent of sales meetings focused on talking about their company and products. The other 40 percent of the conversation was split evenly between talking about their slides and listening to the client.

That’s not the case anymore. Aon Hewitt has undergone a sea change in its sales conversations, as 75 percent of sales calls involve actively listening to and having fully engaged dialogues with their clients. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of the conversation now focuses on Aon Hewitt themselves.

The new Aon Hewitt sales cycle is built around storytelling, and their process has five steps:

  • Define the client’s goal.
  • Define Aon’s goal.
  • Craft the value proposition.
  • Craft a strategic communication plan.
  • Implement the plan.

Fundamental to the success of this approach, Armstrong noted, is knowing where you are going before you start the sales process, so prospects and customers understand that you know them in and out. Research how they write, and how they talk about themselves and their customers, to develop a robust client profile.

Tim Riesterer

Tim Riesterer

Chief Strategy Officer

Tim Riesterer has dedicated his career to improving the conversations marketers and salespeople have with prospects and customers. His books, “Customer Message Management”, “Conversations that Win the Complex Sale”, “Three Value Conversations”, and "The Expansion Sale", focus on improving market-ready messages and tools that marketers and salespeople can use to win more deals. As chief strategy and research officer for Corporate Visions, he sets the direction and develops products for this leading marketing and sales messaging, content and training company.