You know the scenario?

The conversation is going well, and the customer is interested.

Finally, the potential customer says to the salesperson: “Then please send an offer. I’m having a meeting with my boss/team/partner and I’ll let you know what the response is.”

The offer is sent and… the conversation ends.

Why?

Some will say: “the competition gave a much lower price”.

Others will say: “they have connections in another company”.

Still others will say” “our product is too weak”.

Sometimes, of course, this is true but often the reason is quite different.

Think of the customer as your vendor.

Let’s look at our customer’s situation.

The customer stands in front of their boss/team or partner to convince them to choose your offer. It’s like he’s your salesperson.

Only instead of several weeks of training about your offer, the person has just had several conversations with your salesperson. Just as it is difficult for a student to pass an exam after a few lectures, it is equally difficult for a customer to be able to effectively sell your product to their bosses after a few conversations.

Sales materials are like handouts, without which it is difficult for the customer to answer the team’s questions.

What could help is good sales support in the form of presentations, OnePagers, animations, or other materials.

This is something that in a student environment would be a handout. Only that here the downloads are not only legal but also welcome.
Unfortunately, sales materials rarely make his task easier.

Most often the customer gets a poor-looking offer, which is de facto a price list. And sometimes it doesn’t fulfill this role either.

According to LiveSpace report: “What really counts in B2B sales”, 51% of buyers believe that offers do not describe the proposed solution and price clearly enough.

Because of a vaguely worded offer, the customer may get the wrong idea about your offer and reject it thinking the solution is not for them.

Because of a vaguely worded offer, the customer may get the wrong idea about your offer and reject it thinking the solution is not for them.

In other words, half of the buyers don’t understand what you’re selling and how much you want for it.

So it’s hard for decision makers to understand “what’s in it for us“, “why should we pay so much for it” and “why should we choose them“.

And sure, normally your salesperson would provide an explanation. but at internal client meetings the salesperson is not there.   

If in such a situation, your competitors have attractive, concise and convincing support materials, customers are much more likely to buy from them.

 

So what to do?

In this section you will learn what to take care of so that your sales support and sales materials break this deadlock and as a result help salespeople close more ales.

1. Sales support should be based on the specific needs of the customer

 

  • What specifically does your customer need?
  • What does your customer really care about?
  • Price? Quality? Service? Or maybe a safe choice?

If you can’t answer these questions, chances are your sales materials and sales proposal are trying to shoot blind.

Salespeople are often able to sense the customer and tailor the conversation to hit their needs. However, if a generic sales presentation or sales offer then comes to the customer, it’s hard for them to tell their boss:

“You know, on the presentation it does say that they focus on product quality, but the salesperson told me that they are known for having the best customer service and that’s why you should choose them.”

That’s just not credible.

Remember that for a customer, your offer is not as important as it is for you. Your customer cares about choosing a supplier and getting rid of their problem.

So how to know what to prepare for each customer?

I often ask questions like:

  • What would it take to convince your team/leadership/shareholder?
  • What would be most important for you in such a collaboration?
  • What would help your team/chef/shareholder make a decision?

Often the client will say directly, “my boss is highly skeptical and likes numbers. If you had a case study from a company in our industry, that might convince him” or “It’s important for my boss to keep everyone organized, so you need to show a good collaboration process with specific dates.

Matching arguments to conversations is like playing ships. If the customer specifies to us the positions where his needs are, it will be easier for us to hit them.

If the client is able to articulate the company’s needs, it will be easier for you to provide solutions to meet their needs.

Sometimes it will be sending a case study from a similar industry, and sometimes it will be changing the emphasis in a sales presentation from customer service to ROI.

It is very possible that your business may be hitting more than one customer need.

We, for example, are not the cheapest. However, we are the safest option for companies because we have worked with corporations in more than a dozen industries over the years. We can also do things to a very high standard and on time, so when the stakes are high, clients would rather choose us than risk cheaper competition.

If you provide a range of relevant arguments and materials, you will make it easier and more effective for your potential customer to talk to their boss/team/co-worker about your offer.

 

2. Sales support should cover all stages of the sales process. Especially the areas with the biggest bottlenecks

 

Another question to consider is what your customer needs at this stage of the buying process.

When your customer initially explores the sensibility of such a solution, does your customer immediately need an hour-long meeting with a salesperson? Or maybe a OnePager, a link to an article on your website or a concise, 6-slide presentation pitching your solution will meet your customer’s needs?

At each stage of the funnel, it could be different things:

Each stage of the sales process requires different materials. Here we see an example of a sales support process and materials used at different stages.

Choć nie jest to żadna wiedza tajemna, to bardzo często firmom brakuje materiałów dla handlowców na pierwsze etapy lejka.

Nie spotkałem firmy, która nie miałaby prezentacji sprzedażowej lub oferty. Jednak takich, które nie miały co pokazać klientom, którzy sprawdzają czy to w ogóle dla nich, już tak.

It is no secret that it is very common for companies to lack materials for salespeople for the first stages of the funnel.

I haven’t met a company that don’t have a sales presentation or an offer. But I have met a few that don’t have anything to show to customers who are just checking out if the offer is even for them.

 

And it pays off.

Gartner’s research showed that customers who received information that helped them move the purchase forward were 2.8 times more likely to feel it was easy to buy from you and three times more likely to buy more.

3. Modern materials created by sales support should be clear

 

A customer puts their reputation on the line when choosing a supplier.

If a customer chooses poorly, they will be criticized within the company… and maybe will feel buyer’s remorse. I’ve made the wrong business decisions myself at times, which caused me many sleepless nights!

That’s why clients ask about so many things. They want to be sure that they understand everything from A to Z and that your solution will definitely help them.

That’s why it’s so important that everything is made clear to the customer.

As Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling, puts it, “If your sales message is simple, it will be easier for your customers to buy from you.

However, there is often a lot of information about products, especially in the technology, industrial or financial industries.

 

So what to do then?

First of all, it’s worth writing in a conversational manner, i.e. as if you were about to tell a friend about your products.

LinkedIn clearly states in its presentation what the use of Sales Navigator will provide.

A clear message makes it easy for customers to quickly answer the question, “What’s in it for me?

If you use simple language in your sales presentation or offer, you increase the chance that more people will understand your presentation.

Use jargon where appropriate. We have a customer who manufactures blades for aircraft engines. Their product is very technical and specialized and their customers are aerospace engineers.

It’s well known that when talking to engineers, a company can use a lot more jargon than if they wanted to present to a non-technical board member.

It’s about matching the level of jargon to your audience.

 

4. Modern sales materials should be concise

 

If I have to speak for 10 minutes, I need a week to prepare. If for half an hour, two days. If for an hour – I’m ready right now.”

 

Woodrow Wilson, U.S. President 1913-1921

 

Often startups have 2-3 minutes to present their business concept at competitions.

There is an expectation that sales presentations will be concise.

I found this out myself last year when I flew to one of our potential customers for a meeting. One of the main people involved was the CEO of a large factory.

Although the other decision makers had time for a longer conversation, the CEO only stopped by for 15 minutes and wanted to find out what we were offering.

Fortunately, this was expected, so I knew how to be brief.

If I had come up with an hour-long PowerPoint presentation, where for the first three slides I talked about our clients and how many countries we have worked in, it would have caused impatience and irritation.

 

Consider the examples of some of the biggest companies:

Steve Jobs was able to present the iPhone and all its major features to the world in 50 minutes. This was when talking about a huge innovation that changed the world of cell phones. Most of our products are not that revolutionary, so we should need less time.

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Besides, customer attention is fleeting.

Sometimes, however, when dealing with sales support, we assume that the customer’s brain is like a hard drive… that we can load 50 slides written in small letters onto it. Or a 10-page Word document.

And yet when we view such material ourselves, we quickly switch off.

More than a hard drive, our attention is more like the Internet on a cell phone. Sometimes the connection is faster, sometimes slower, and sometimes it breaks and you have to reconnect.

That’s why you need to take this into account. Divide information into smaller portions and prepare materials so that they engage the customer.

In this presentation the salesperson asked the customer which of these problems was the most acute for them and then kept the entire presentation focused on that problem. Example of a slide from the book “Challenger Sale” by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.

As Woodrow Wilson rightly pointed out, speaking concisely is a difficult art. The best salespeople can do it, but most don’t. The role of sales support material is to help salespeople do it.

5. The role of the salesperson, with good sales support, can morph into that of the professors

 

According to Gartner, the problem today is not a lack of content about products – 54% of buyers say the amount of information available is overwhelming.

The quality of that information isn’t the problem either. 89% of buyers say that the content is of high quality. Of course, this is American data, we still have some catching up to do in Poland.

 

The problem is that the information provided to customers is sometimes contradictory, and it’s hard to figure out the pros and cons of different providers.

Our customer is like a student who is preparing a thesis and is overwhelmed by the amount of books and research on the topic. The student needs a professor who can help them to navigate through this information and to make the right decisions.

Over time, that professor could be a salesperson who knows the needs of their customers.

This approach builds trust between the customer and salesperson.

Source: The Sense Making Seller, How High-Performing Sellers Help Today’s Overwhelmed Buyers, Gartner

6. Sales support and good marketing also means taking care of the visual side of your materials

 

I have seen some very ugly sales materials that helped close multi-million dollar deals but it is also possible that if they were presented better, they would assist to close more sales.

I’m of the opinion that just like a salesperson should be neatly dressed, your materials should look professional and neat too.

Let’s look at these two pictures of Jared Leto. What associations do they evoke in you?

Jared Leto at the Venice Film Festival

Source: 66ème Festival du Cinéma de Venise (Mostra), 10ème jour (11/09/2009)
Photocall avec Jared Leto, Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley et le réalisateur Jaco Van Dormel pour le film: MR. NOBODY

 

Jared Leto in the movie “Chapter 27”

The same man, and he gives a very different impression.

 The same is true of sales materials.

One slide is from an Uber sales presentation. The other slide is the same content, but dumped into a PowerPoint template.

 

Most people say that their first impression of the original is “premium service.” In the second case, “something cheap”.

If the whole environment around the product looks like “something cheap”, it’s no wonder the customer wonders why it’s so expensive.

As an aside, the second slide, despite the bad design, is very good because it is:

  1. based on a specific need;
  2. tailored to the sales process;
  3. clear;
  4. concise;
  5. can be used by the salesperson to educate the customer.

This is why these points come before design. Design is the icing on the cake. But what’s a cake without a cherry!

Summary

 

These guidelines can be implemented within the marketing and sales departments. Often there are separate sales support teams in companies that will be able to handle this. I strongly encourage you to implement these guidelines.

 

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