Here is an “inconvenient truth” that all sales and marketing professionals need to understand immediately: No-one wants to sit through a presentation on your products and services. Just stop doing that.
At a meeting in December of 2015, the Director of Sales Operations at a Fortune 500 industrial manufacturing company literally banged his hand on the conference room table and said (loudly) to the Chief Marketing Officer and the VP of Global Marketing: “The sales guys need better slide decks from Marketing – the current versions just don’t convey the message well!” Watching the reaction of the two executives was telling. Neither of them spoke for at least 30 seconds, and then the CMO asked: “Is that why sales declined this last year?” Silence all around.
My question to this (clearly exasperated) team was: “What do your prospects need to know in order to better understand why your products are better for them? And let’s think about what the best approach might be to convey this knowledge to them.”
The two primary considerations that should be the focus of sales and marketing teams for companies that have complex solutions are:
- What are the most important differentiated value propositions that our prospects need to understand so that they will be better informed and will make the best buying decisions?
- How can the customer uncover these value propositions quickly and easilyevery time they encounter content or people from our company?
Even if the sales team suddenly became experts at crisply articulating the company’s differentiated value proposition it still wouldn’t provide the knowledge that customers needed in those situations when the sales person was not present.And we know that the customer is actively progressing through the vast majority of the purchasing cycle (or customer journey) without the vendors.
The answer is to provide interactive engagement for the prospect at every touch-point, so that customers are interacting (not just watching a video, or reading a brochure) in order to ask questions, obtain relevant answers, and navigate through their problem-solving journey at their own pace. This requires interactive digital engagement tools at every venue in which prospects encounter the company: online, at trade shows, webinars, events, and even sales meetings.
No more sales presentations – these have gone the way of the printed brochure. The most effective way to transfer relevant knowledge to the prospect is to engage them directly in the discovery of this information themselves. Interactive applications are the most successful vehicle through which your prospects learn about your competitive differentiation, and retain this information when it comes time for them to make buying decisions.