Have you ever suspected some of your salespeople are just winging it?
If so, how would you know?
Maybe you’d look at the consistency of their sales numbers. Maybe you’d talk to clients that have worked with them. But how do can you tell if their success (or lack thereof) comes from a real understanding of your company’s value to customers and how much of their success is just smooth talking?
I’ve interviewed a lot of salespeople over the years, and I’ve learned to tell the difference in a salesperson who really knows what they’re doing and someone who doesn’t.
It comes down to knowing the right questions to ask.
If you’re curious about the intentionality of your salespeople, ask them these seven questions. You’ll be able to evaluate whether or not they’re winging it in the field… and see what you need to work on back in the organization.
1. What’s Your Value Proposition to the Customer?
This first question sounds simple, but most salespeople don’t know the answer.
Is their inability to answer this question a salesperson failure? Or is it a failure of your marketing team in providing them that information? Or is this your failure to have conversations that clearly explain the company’s value proposition?
For a salesperson to offer your customer grounded reasons for purchasing your product or service, they must understand your company’s value proposition.
Example: We help our clients leverage communication and presentation technology to support their event goals.
2. What Does Your Company Do for Customers?
If a salesperson answers this question in terms of products, they don’t understand the value proposition of what the organization does for people.
Instead, they should be able to articulate how your company offers real value to your customers — not just explain what they sell.
Example: We make sure every attendee can see, feel, and hear the content as intended.
3. Who Is Your Ideal Buyer?
Salespeople often respond with something like, “Well, it’s a decision maker…”
But look closer at their answer. Is that the ideal buyer or is that the easy sale?
Your ideal buyer is someone who values your organization. The ideal buyer puts price at the bottom of their priority list and puts relationship, output, and outcomes at the top.
Example: Our ideal buyer is an event producer tasked with making corporate executives and guest speakers look smarter.
4. What Verticals, Segments, and Channels Do You Work In?
Salespeople must know the profiles of customers they best do business with. If a salesperson starts talking about specific companies, products, or regions, that’s a good start. But there’s more to a customer’s profile they must understand.
Do they understand the types of industries (verticals) they work with?
Can they identify segments within those industries that they work with?
Do they know what channels they are most effective in?
If not, they need to look at the value chain to understand who their buyers are and identify their best markets.
Example: Our primary focus is corporate meetings for internal communications that are trying to motivate or change employee engagement. Our targets are Pharmaceuticals, Investment Banking, and Direct Selling organizations.
5. What Are the Three Brand Qualities of Your Organization?
When we ask for brand qualities, we’re asking, “What are the things your customers value the most about you and your company?”
If you ask your salespeople this question and each of their answers are different, that’s a problem. Your brand qualities should be consistent from one person to the next.
Example: Speed, Transparency, and Results
6. What Is Your Company’s Brand Promise?
If your sales team couldn’t consistently identify brand qualities, they’ll probably struggle to pinpoint brand promise too.
This goes back to conveying a clear value proposition to your sales team. If you haven’t vocalized your value proposition, you probably don’t have a clear brand promise either.
Example: “In all things, we promise to deliver what we promised, the way we promised it, and when it is expected.”
7. What Are the Stories You Can Tell About Your Company?
What stories would the salesperson tell the customer to help them understand who you are as an organization and why you’re valuable to them?
Stories paint a picture, and you want customers to catch the vision of how it’d look to work with you.
What would be better for them and their business?
How can they see themselves in your stories of successful working relationships?
Example: “You know how when the CEO walks on stage and the audience hushes? Let me tell you a story about when that didn’t happen…”
Better Understanding = Better Sales
Don’t leave the success of your sales team up to luck and charisma alone.
Yes, some salespeople are great at winging it — but you want a sales strategy built on a firm understanding of your brand’s value. Your sales team should know your company well.
Salespeople obviously need to understand your products, services, pricing, and features — but they also need to be armed with a clear understanding of your company’s value proposition, target customer, and brand qualities.
Help your organization, sales team, marketing team, business development team, and, most importantly, your customers by making sure your sales team has a solid grasp on these concepts before they make their next sales call.
If they can answer these seven questions, they’re going to be ready to deal with every kind of buyer on the planet. And they won’t have to fake it anymore — which is better for everyone!