Sales is ‘part art,’ ‘part science’ and a lot of process. Knowing what to do and in what order can mean the difference between success and failure. As covered in depth in the Tantalus SaaS (software as a service) sales training program, which explains how to sell SaaS solutions on a global scale, process is even more important.
So let’s dig into this a little bit. The “Art” part can really be innate. ‘Likeability’ can be hard to teach and it’s incredibly important. ‘Trustworthiness,’ ‘Confidence’ and ‘Presence’ are all things that should come to mind when thinking about the ‘Art of Sales.’ The “Science” part is more a learned skill. How many calls or emails does your team need to make to build a strong sales funnel? What does a good sales funnel look like? A healthy funnel is 4 to 1 of your target objective. What should your close ratio to calls made be? About 80 percent of sales come on the fifth to twelfth contact. These numbers will vary depending on your products, business maturity and services offered but let there be no doubt that there is science behind this.
Now what’s all this about process? Sales is in fact mostly process. From the initial step of researching your prospect, to knowing what you are going to say, how you are going to say it and to whom you are going to say it. How to qualify, present your differentiated value proposition and the most effective way to negotiate, there is a proper order and getting this process right can accelerate a deal or kill it before it’s even begun.
Sales is in fact mostly process. From the initial step of researching your prospect, to knowing what you are going to say, how you are going to say it and to whom you are going to say it.
In a SaaS enterprise selling environment, process becomes even more critical because your sales team is dealing with different stakeholders across the business, within different functional units and at varying levels of corporate hierarchy. In many cases the process a sales team needs to understand – and a good sales leader needs to manage – is sometimes less about understanding the selling process and more about understanding the buying process.
When you go into a meeting with a goal of selling something, your chances diminish. That’s been my overwhelming experience after doing this at various levels for the past 20 years and it isn’t culturally specific. Sales is, by and large, all about problem-solving. Whether you are selling widgets or complex, global SaaS solutions, people are looking at your offering because they have a problem to solve and are wondering if you can help them solve it. So, it’s important that you approach things that way.
Step 1. Understand the problem – I mean really understand it – all of it. Problems are multi-faceted and if there were easy answers, you would be out of work.
Step 2. Understand how your offering solves that problem and if you truly offer a unique solution, meaning no one else can solve it as well. It’s also important to note that solving a problem isn’t simple. Sometimes there are multiple problems and the solutions are single-threaded.
In SaaS for example, something as seemingly straightforward as the software hosting location and data residency laws can be a huge factor. Your product may the best. Your support may have the best response times. Your team may be trustworthy and likeable but you can’t host the software in a desired country and there are data residency laws which make this mandatory. Your product may, therefore solve one problem but cause another one. I have seen this exact scenario play out repeatedly. I’ve seen sales representatives spend months with business owners and users only to find out later that they were so busy selling (and in fairness doing a heck of a good job at it) that they neglected to understand the buying process. It’s imperativet to learn that early.
Step 3: Ask the right questions, of the right people, at the right time to truly understand how they buy. In my experience, many people in an organization don’t actually know what their company’s buying process is.
There are different types of stakeholders involved in the buying decision and it’s likely – often the case when selling software as a service, that you, as the salesperson will never even interact with some of them. There are:
Ok, so there are the right questions to ask of the right buyer types, but are there any other differences between buying and selling? How do you manage all of this so your sales team isn’t wasting everyone’s time in pursuit of the wrong sale? What are all the questions my sellers need to be asking to ensure that time isn’t being wasted? It may sound simple but selling only to people that are buying took me years to figure out.
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Adam is experienced sales leader at the enterprise level. He specializes in direct sales of cloud-based, SaaS and HCM Solutions Sales and account management. He regularly coaches and trains mid-level sales leaders around the world.
Specialties: Leadership, Hunting/Prospecting, Rainmaker, Challenger, Closer, Deal-Maker, Solution-Selling, Boardroom Presence, Team-Building, Employee engagement, Government Contracts, Branding, Presentations and Communications, Leveraging Social Media to maximize exposure and Public Speaking.
Adam helps companies improve execution, increase engagement and drive performance leading to superior business results through a collaborative approach and performance management.
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