There's a growing divide between buyer expectations and sales conversations. This reality is evidenced by findings in Forrester Research's Technology Buyer Insight Study: Are Salespeople Prepared for Executive Conversations?
Here are a couple of eye-opening responses from buyers:
"Only 15% of executives believe that their meetings with salespeople are valuable and live up to their expectations. Not surprisingly, with such low marks on the value of that first meeting, the probability of a given salesperson securing another appointment is extremely low, as only 7% of executives say they usually accept a follow-on meeting." [emphasis mine]
The research points to some key factors that contribute to this result.
- Training salespeople on how to have conversations with a "generic executive" doesn't translate into meaningful dialogue about specific business issues, roles and responsibilities. In fact, "...no such role as a C-level executive exists."
- Onboarding programs are often designed to get reps up to speed quickly on the company's product vision—not on understanding the roles and responsibilities of the prospects they're going to be selling to.
- Vendor use of jargon and their lack of simplifying issue complexity often keep business-oriented buyers from grasping the nuances of how technology can help to solve their problem. When it's too difficult, the executive will choose to switch priorities something easier to understand and take next steps toward solving.
- Customer examples and stories used don't match the buyer's reality, making it hard for them to validate the need to take next steps because the salesperson isn't proving that they understand their business situation.
So, what can marketing do to help enable the sales team?
- Develop and share highly targeted personas. Even better, work with sales on the development and refinement of those personas.
- Design highly segmented content marketing programs to address the buyer's perspective at each stage of the buying process, based on those personas. Make them easy to access for salespeople.
- Create content based on addressing specific roles and responsibilities of prospective buyers and package it up for sales to access and use easily.
- Eliminate the jargon and complexity by creating content designed to answer specific questions buyers have at each stage of the buying process. Create a conversational brief for sales that indicates which resources should be used when for specific buyer segments.
- Create a variety of customer examples based on situations, industries, company size and problem resolution—not on the list of products you sold them. Make sure the customer stories include quantifiable results your salespeople can reference during conversations as they explain how your customer was able to overcome the obstacles they were facing.