Do you actually know how your product / service/ solution makes a real difference to your customers? If you suggested taking it away from them, would they really care? No matter how many times your internal strategists brainstorm on how the product will be used, or the product management team dream up user scenarios, or the marketing team test out various ‘features and benefit’ statements, there is nothing to compare with actual user stories. Tales from the front line can inform better than any other source what you’re doing right and where you might focus.
When a customer gets real value from your product or solution, and they are proud of what they achieved – to the extent that they are happy to let you publish their story – then the momentum you can realize can be much greater than any impact from marketing campaign.
In July of this year we kicked off an initiative to hear real stories from real front-line sales people. How would the sales person describe how they used sales methodology – in this case TAS in Dealmaker – to win deals. Many of the folks in our industry focus on what benefits can be delivered to sales management, but, in my opinion, there is insufficient attention paid to the people who really make a difference to a sales organization – the front line sales professional.
Each month we provide an iPad to the best story we hear. Our last contest period ended on August 15. The story that follows was the winner in that period and I share it here so that you might benefit from the lessons learned. These real life front-line stories are always intriguing and I know I always learn a lot – so I hope you will too. Whether you are a TAS/Dealmaker user or not, I think these stories will be of value to you.
This story, in his own words, is from Ken Durham – National Sales Director Energy Systems Group
SCENARIO: Our organization had a large opportunity which began prior to our utilization of TAS. As a result of NOT having a TAS platform to develop the opportunity from the beginning, we were playing catch up in formation of a unified sales strategy. However, with TAS in place, we developed a Fragment Strategy to salvage our project by correctly identifying spheres of influence – testing our contacts to determine where we were weak and where we were strong.
Our team had the perfect test case to prove the value of TAS/ Dealmaker—an opportunity that started without TAS and finished with it. Without a doubt, everyone on the pursuit team clearly saw the weakness in not having a clearly identified methodology to guide them through the sales process.
APPROACH: Arriving late to the scene, we deployed the terminology and methodology of Dealmaker—identifying the compelling event, competitive strategies as well as mapped the organizational chart and action plan. By mapping the buying roles and correctly assessing our status, we identified our non-supporters, enemies and those who were neutral. As a result, we zippered several relationships within our organization with the customer’s, and utilized our strength to position ourselves for the part of the contract we were certain to win.
RESULTS: Our sales team was able to successfully gain a portion of the deal by successfully executing a Fragmenting Strategy!
While the team worked hard, early on they did not have the benefit of testing the sales plan, scoring our competitors strengths and weaknesses and developing a strategy. A key relationship was misread, weakening our position as the sales cycle progressed. We identified a neutral person as a mentor or coach. Without a TAS plan or TAS process, we did not have a structure to “test” this identification.
Using TAS, with only a few weeks to go before selection, we used the plan as a roadmap. We altered our thinking and changed our strategy from Frontal to Fragment and the result was an award in revenue we would not have had without TAS. We correctly identified our value within a narrower scope of the project, and also correctly identified the strengths and weaknesses of our competitor. The results and historical comments from the customer validated this.
FEATURE FOCUS: Mapping the customer organization and identifying a specific, tested sales strategy was most helpful. For the portion of the deal that went to a competitor, we used TAS to debrief and assess the sale. There is no doubt, that if our team had access to TAS earlier, our relationship development, pre-call planning and tactics would have been entirely different. TAS clearly showed us with anecdotal information what we would do differently next time. This project has proven to be a showcase to our sales organization on the value of TAS/Dealmaker!
If you have a story to tell, and you’re prepared to share it, remember that each month we provide an iPad to the best story we hear.