One rule I established when I founded my advisory practice is that sales is about listening and collaborating, not presenting.  I had watched the cost of sales at many companies skyrocket because highly qualified sales opportunities would dissipate when elaborate sales presentations fell flat at the very first meeting.  These presentaitons, like most other sales tools, focus on outgoing rather than incoming information.

Even with the best qualification questions and inside sales efforts, a sales rep walking into an initial customer meeting is going to have, at best, a superficial understanding of the customers’ need.  If they start by bulldozing through pre-prepared slides, they are likely to a) waste time on topics irrelevant to the customer, b) miss the opportunity to gain a better understanding and c) fail to establish a collaborative relationship with the customer.  The best sales materials are ones that enable conversations and set a tone of collaboration from the first meeting.

If you’re a marketer creating tools for sales people, check whether the content you’re producing help sales reps to:

  1. Ask questions that both demonstrate their expertise and help them gain greater insight into customer needs
  2. Facilitate in-depth discussions that are collaborative, positive and valuable experiences for customers
  3. Articulate how what they’re selling is directly relevant specific customer situations they discover during the meeting

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