Business Strategies: Solution Selling Made Easy and Fun!23 Jan, 2012 By: Thomas Schneck, DocuWare imageSource
Engaging your major account and geographic sales professionals in selling solutions is the key to leveraging the potential of your dealership. There are many ways you can ensure that your whole sales team participates in your solution selling initiative - and enjoys it.
Let’s face it - if the sales reps do not feel that the compensation system is fair or attractive, many solution launches are D.O.A. Therefore, devise a compensation which pays the same percentage on the margin of software sales as on hardware equipment.
As the margin on software solutions tends to be higher, this will already provide a great incentive. Also, many times your sales executives will work as a team with your solution specialists. While your account reps focus on relationship management and closing, the solution specialist specializes on proof of concept, tailored solution presentations and ROI. Since both parties are equally pivotal in a successful solution business, the compensation plan should be seen as well-balanced in order to foster teamwork.
Sales professionals from the hardware side might initially be nervous about entering the solution arena since software is a big unknown for many. A great way to address these fears is to orient them through a vendor training program about the basic idea of a solution and how it applies to the everyday life of their customers.
These trainings are best enjoyed in a web-based format so that participants can learn at their own pace and from any location. Key for the training content is to stay away from any techno-babble. Instead, focus on the core applications and benefits. Ideally the content is also presented in a way that it can be applied to marketing strategies which are already used by the sales team, such as SPIN selling.
If multiple sales reps are going through the training, add a little fun: whoever finishes the training first or on time, receives a small token of recognition from management. The race is on! Generally, once this training is completed, most sales reps will feel comfortable enough to start promoting solutions.
Effective Customer Events
One of the most effective ways to generate leads for solution sales is to organize “Lunch & Learns” on a regular basis. They can be general in nature or they can focus on a specific application or vertical market. These events provide an easy way for your sales team to make their customers aware of your solution offering.
In order to get the message out about your planned events, prepare email invitations and handouts which can be used easily by your sales team. Use social networking sites to your advantage as well.
A great way to make a Lunch & Learn attractive is to invite an industry consultant or professional (CPA, lawyer, etc.) who can provide a wider context for your solution. Also, invite your current solution users to participate. This always establishes immediate authenticity during the event as they can share their experiences.
Easy to Use Sales Tools
Another goal for your sales reps is to set up one-on-one appointments between a prospective customer and your solutions team. Make sure your sales team has tools available which make it easy for them to introduce the idea of the solution which you are promoting.
Ideally, the first conversation should be kept light and should not involve the sales rep in a deeper technical discussion. A great way to accomplish this is by using small video clips which can be played from an USB drive or a DVD. Many times, these vendor-provided videos generate enough interest to lead to a follow up appointment.
Also, make sure that your sales team has access to a wide variety of case studies. A case study which shows how a solution is applied in a department or industry, something which the customer is familiar with, creates instant credibility.
When launching a new solution, organize a kick-off event for your sales organization. During the event, different aspects should be covered. While dealer management talks about the goals for the organization, the solution vendor should cover success stories and best sales practices.
Especially helpful - and even fun - can be role games during which sales reps practice their talk tracks for introducing the new solution to customers. It is really important to rehearse so as to effectively share in a way that best supports your new solution initiative. Basically, you want comprehensive, credible information delivered to your clients and prospects in order for them to easily understand the benefits of your solution, etc. Every good kick-off could finish with a round of pizza for the whole team!
Quick Win Incentives
After the kick-off it’s key to build momentum. The easiest way to accomplish this is with some “Quick Wins.” To promote early success offer a special financial incentive for the first six months. Once a sales rep has a first sale, present a commission check with great fanfare during the next sales meeting. This helps to ensure that the whole sales team sees the value of solution selling and continuously builds on future successes!