First a few definitions here…
When I say Presales, I mean any SME (subject matter expert) that assists you (the salesperson) in helping the prospect see and understand the value of your product or service. This means services personnel, technical folks, vertical market experts, training experts or anyone else that you bring into the account to round out your campaign.
I have seen Presales people treated like second class citizens throughout the sales process. And, when it was time for them to perform, they gave second class performances… and the Salesperson was aghast!
Your ability to thoughtfully leverage your organization in order to show the prospect the value of your product or service is a clue to how well you will leverage your organization to help your prospect succeed IF they do purchase your product or service. In this respect, YOUR RELATIONSHIP TO YOUR PRESALES PEOPLE ARE PRODUCTS OF YOUR CREDIBILITY IN YOUR OWN ORGANIZATION.
93% of communication is non-verbal and as I stated in a previous blog, State of Discovery, you must be calm and able to observe the dynamics between your prospects in the room. But make no mistake, your prospects are carefully observing the dynamics between you and your team as well. The slightest misalignment in strategy OR chemistry between you and your Presales colleagues can turn an otherwise perfect meeting into a liability.
So, how should you treat your presales people?
- Like Gold — Wine and dine whenever you get the chance. Remember, their performance is an indicator of your credibility within your organization.
- Give them as much relevant information as possible
- Get their feedback on the sales process — you only have one set of eyes — they see different things and they see things differently
- Pre-call preparation — This is a must but is very often neglected. In order to achieve a specific outcome you must prepare and tell them what your expectations are. If presales is part of your call then you must extend the courtesy of preparing.
- Convert your presales people into “Post/Presales People”. Once your prospect has purchased, help your Presales people engage with the customer in order to ensure the successful implementation of your product or service. At the same time, they can be on the look-out for additional opportunities to expand on the customer’s success.
Discovery, the process of understanding the prospects critical business issues, is arguably, the most important part of the sales process. All other things being equal, the best discovery wins the day. However, all other things are never equal. And, the best discovery entails much more than asking the standard “high yield” questions that every salesperson in your space will ask. The unspoken observations that you make about the person (s), culture, and where the corporation is in its lifecycle, and the additional insight that you bring to the table, are just as important, if not more important than the verbal answers to your “high yield” questions. Unfortunately, most salespeople are so hell-bent on getting these answers that they miss some of the most “high yield” observations. (I will discuss more about these high yield observations in an upcoming post).
One of Koichi Tohei’s 4 basic principles of coordinating mind and body in any endeavor is “Relax Completely”. However, the English translation of this does not tell the whole story. In Japanese the principle reads “Zenshin no chikara o kanzen ni nuku” Roughly translated, this means to take the power of everything that you are and have ever been, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and throw it all away. Another way to say it is if if all of your knowledge and understanding is liquid in a cup, dump it all out. Now, if this were a Zen exercise, the Sensei may tell you to now throw out the cup. But I’m not sure it would be a good idea to be staring at your prospect in a state of transcendental bliss with spilt coffee all over the floor. So, put your cup aside but not completely out of reach.
In order to pick up on subtle, unspoken behaviors about people, relationships, and culture, you must be calm. You must be free from your agenda. You must be like the calm water that accurately reflects the environment around you. Allow the prospect to drive the discussion where he wants to take it and gradually you can pick up your cup and start adding your knowledge to the mix. You must completely take on your prospects perspective before you can become one with it.
Before your next discovery meeting take some time to empty yourself. Tell colleagues that are attending the discovery with you that you want to understand the spoken AND the unspoken. “Relax Completely” and allow the prospect the space to tell you their story, with and without words.