Consultative Selling Approaches in the Digital Age

By | B2B Sales, Selling Tips

No matter how much we rely on our smartphones, laptops and tablets to navigate every aspect of our lives, human interaction always will emerge as one of the most important factors in developing successful relationships. This couldn’t be truer than with the sales process. Great interactions with your prospects can lead to successful sales. Having the tools and technology at your disposal are what enhances and accelerates the interaction.

Consider how the digital age is influencing your consultative sales approach when it comes to one-on-one interactions with your prospects. Unlike in previous years, your prospects, more than likely, won’t need a comprehensive presentation that spells out every single detail of how your product or services work. Chances are they have already a good idea. By the time the sales prospect engages with the sales representative, they need to present specific content that speaks directly to the buyer’s curiosity. You’ll need a consultative selling approach.

According to the Acquity Group, the vast majority of B2B buyers – 94 percent – have already done their research by the time you send an email, pick up the phone or engage in a one-on-one presentation. Acquity’s 2014 State of B2B Procurement study showed that 84.3 percent check business websites, 77 percent perform a search on Google, and 41 percent read user reviews. This all is going on before your sales rep comes into the picture.

Here are three strategies for the consultative selling approach your team should consider when interacting with these type of informed prospects:

    1. Start with a conversation. You may already have done your research on the prospective company. Maybe even putting in hours outlining the weak spots on their site, their process or where they’re lagging behind competitors. You could have put together an amazing slide presentation. Avoid the temptation to just roll with it. Instead, try to get your prospect to talk about their challenges or pain points. After all, there was a reason they had been doing all that research. If the subject goes in a direction that’s different from your presentation, hit the highlights of how you can address their issues – even if it means skipping over several of those amazing slides.
    2. Act as a guide. Be helpful in your approach with the prospective buyer. Maybe your company doesn’t have all the solutions to solve his or her problems. Be willing to guide them in the right direction so that they can gain a comprehensive solution. Think of yourself as a partner during the sales presentation; chances are your prospect will see you as an invaluable partner over a long-term basis.
    3. Avoid the high-pressure close. Remember, the prospect is likely still in a learning mentality by the time you enter the picture. Chances are he won’t be willing to immediately sign a contract until he is assured that he has the best option. Part of reaching that conclusion may lie in him further understanding the solution and product you’re proposing. Be willing to take the time to give free demos or thoroughly explain how the solution/product produced results for a client in a similar industry.

It’s imperative that your sales representative have every product brochure, white paper, case study, video, and other supporting assets at the ready. By the time your prospect connects, they need very specific information and must work with your sales representative to overcome any additional challenges, including budget, features, etc. Being confident in the consultative selling steps and having a platform ready ensures your representative can find the content they need when they need it. Following these consultative selling tips will reduce the sales cycle and increase conversion rates.

Need some assistance in fine-tuning your sales process and consultative selling approach? Check out how FatStax can streamline your operations with a platform that keeps data, presentations and information easily accessible.

High Performing Sales Teams – 3 Key Stats You Need to Know

By | B2B Sales, Mobile Productivity Tools has released their annual State of Sales Report for 2015 and, it has some pretty amazing insights about high performing sales teams.  You can grab a copy and a guaranteed call from a novice SDR here.

In this study, the good folks at surveyed 2300 global sales leaders.  2300 is a lot! As  a PhD scientist, I can get with that number as a reasonable cohort.  Biases aside, there are some stats that really smacked me in the head here.

High Performing Sales Teams are:

  1. 3.5X more likely to use analytics
  2. 2X more likely to be using a mobile sales tool
  3. 4.9X more likely to be “masters of mobile”

Those are some pretty compelling stats!  Basically if you aren’t using analytics and mobile sales tools, you are under-performing by definition.

So, we’re curious to get your take on these 3 key stats for high performing sales teams.

In the next installment, we’ll break down each stat of high performing sales teams in this study.

Photo Credit: Trips ’06 – Tantalus – 05- climbing Pelion Gl towards shoulder (7000 ft pass) via photopin (license)

The Benefits of Mobile Marketing Automation for Sales and Marketing

By | B2B Sales, Business Mobility, Marketing Automation, Mobile Productivity Tools, Sales Productivity

This infographic dives into what mobile marketing automation really is and how it can change the way your organization approaches the sales and marketing cycles. It also provides real-time assistance during the sales process. Wouldn’t you love it if you were provided with information within minutes of asking for it?

This is what mobile marketing automation is made for. If you’re not utilizing any sales apps to improve your sales performance, you’re leaving a gap in your sales and marketing strategy.


How to Identify Flaws in a Sales Engagement Tool Vendor

By | B2B Sales, Business Mobility

As a marketer, what is it about bad vendors that really ticks you off?

We put that question, more eloquently of course, to marketers who call on us when looking for a new sales engagement tool vendor.

Sure, maybe you have pet peeves that just don’t jive with a vendor (I’ll admit I know I do).

But sometimes it’s just a sales engagement tool vendor match not made in heaven.

In some cases bad habits on the part of the vendor are just part of the cost of doing business with many companies.

But other times, the complaints pile up so high that a vendor will give up on a company and let them hang on for dear life.

So what is the most common reason for a flawed sales engagement tool vendor?

What we hear the most from marketers we talk with is communication.

When working with a vendor of any kind, you have to uncover communication issues between you and the vendor early.

So here are some communication issues we’ve heard from marketers about their previously flawed sales engagement tool vendor and how to resolve them:

Nightmare 1: Response time to inquiries

If your sales engagement tool vendor rep is not quick to answer a question (email, phone call, text, smoke signal, anything) chances are they won’t be responding to them later.

Something as grave as an integration connection going down to the forgotten login password requires instant vendor response.

A lot of times a lack of proper training from the vendor is the cause for many customer inquiries. If your vendor doesn’t offer on-board training or a customer service system for questions, it shows a lack of vendor maturity.

Nightmare 2: Lackluster service team

A major red flag in identifying a bad sales engagement tool vendor is when they start getting defensive with you if their service team gets behind. We hear this time and time again from marketers.

The key is not to return the favor and get into a confrontation.

If they start pointing fingers it is usually best to acknowledge what they’re pointing out and try working together moving forward to achieve a resolution.

If one cannot be reached, it could be time to start shopping for another vendor.

Nightmare 3: Unsupportive to your growth

At the end of that day, you want to work with a vendor that is understanding, there for you when you need them, and is willing to go the extra mile to see your company succeed.

When we talk with enterprise level marketing executives here at FatStax, we always put our customers first.

It’s the relationships we build and the ideas we hear from our customers that have helped us grow.

Look out for these flaws when dealing with your sales engagement tool vendor and be ready to come up with a backup plan when you need to.

What Do Channel Partner Sales Enablement Apps Cost?

By | B2B Sales, Business Mobility

At your national sales meeting two years ago, your channel partners started bringing up the topic of mobility with you.

Last year, they showed you an example of a competitor’s sales enablement app.

This year, they cornered you at the opening night dinner and asked how long until we get ours?!

You know how important it is to support your channel partners and keep them happy.

So you ask yourself, “Just how much do channel partner sales enablement apps cost?”

The short answer simply is it depends.

Think of a channel partner sales enablement app like a boat.

Remember the famous boat scene from the movie Caddyshack? (Here’s the video link)

Do you want people to notice you in a boat like Judge Smails’ skipjack, or Al Czervik’s sporty double decker party boat?

Sometimes all you need is a skipjack to cruise the lake, but you decide to go big like Al Czervik because… well, it’s totally cool (and it has that awesome horn)!

There has to be balance between what your channel partners need and what it will take for their customers to notice your products.

So, when it comes to giving a sales enablement app to your channel partners—consider what you’re willing to bet on your corporate image. You may think your dealers need a pontoon overflowing with everything you can throw at them, but they will probably want to hit the water in something that makes them look awesome.

That’s because they will be using this app:

  • Every time they meet with their customers
  • Every time they go to trade shows
  • Every time they go to a site for service 

We see manufacturers very confused when it comes to deploying apps that can reach their channel partners, which results in paralysis back into the status quo of mailing catalogs and boxes of brochures.

You’re still mailing print materials right now…aren’t you?

To help you avoid this paralysis, let’s look at some key variables that affect the cost of every sales enablement app and some that are specific to channel partners:

  • The number of dealer reps (100 reps or 10,000 reps?)
  • The sophistication of the manufacturers product mix (1000’s of SKUs or a handful of large complex machines?)
  • The image the app portrays (Whether the sales enablement app needs to have your branding and corporate image or your dealers demand their own branding)
  • The manufacturers’ connection with channel reps (Can you talk to them directly or is there a barrier?)
  • The amount of effort the manufacturer has to put in update digital sales collateral in the app (PDFs, videos, PowerPoint product presentations, etc.)
  • OS upgrades (Think about your smart phone. Often you must update its operating systems. Same goes for sales enablement apps.)
  • Feature upgrades and additions. Inevitably, your channel partners will ask for new and different features. Those features (and what it takes to code them) will surely drive the cost up.

So, the first key is to understand what your channel partners need and will allow.

Then, take that set of parameters to determine the best sales enablement app to match those needs.

After you have that information, we can tell you exactly how much an sales enablement app costs to support them.

Let’s look at some potential options for channel partner apps and some ballpark costs. Think back to the skipjack vs. the party boat.

Simple Web-Based File Sharing App

 Designed for manufacturers just getting started. If you want to test out a sales enablement app with a few channel reps, this is your ticket.

These web-based file sharing apps are limited by their inability to access files without Internet connection.

Examples might include Dropbox, Box, your web-based file sharing system and the manufacturer’s website.

Pricing – It can range from free to $5,000 per year, depending on need. Don’t forget your cost associated with supporting the updating of materials, though.

Positives – Inexpensive, fast to try, common apps and websites are familiar to dealers already.

Negatives – Manufacturers’ files are unavailable without Internet, no branding, no tracking to see who’s using it, and no warm fuzzy feeling from dealers that you bought them a cool new tool.

Complex Sales Enablement Apps

 Designed as fully functioning sales tools. Complex apps are fully equipped for manufacturers with world-wide dealer networks that may range from 100’s to 1000’s.

These apps are large, scalable, and flexible to support different sales channels and multiple languages.

Everything is branded, private and secure to meet high corporate standards.

Pricing – $10,000 to $100,000 per year depending on all the bells and whistles.

Positives – Everything is available offline, without the need to Internet access. These apps make updating products and materials simple, and help make the manufacturer look technologically ahead of the curve.

Service and support are present to help manufacturers distribute materials and the app. They can be branded for both channel partners and/or the manufacturer. Made to handle both 1000’s of SKUs and complex file types. Can be deployed via MDM or in the AppStore.

Negatives – Well, pricing and costs.

So, what do channel partner sales enablement apps cost?

The answer is it depends on which “boat” is the best fit for your dealer team.

Sales Presentation Mistakes That Can Cost You Deals

By | B2B Sales, Sales Productivity

We all make mistakes, but sales presentation mistakes can keep you from cashing in on a commission check.

They can cost you future business opportunities.

They can keep you from hitting quota.

Sales presentation mistakes can certainly be damaging, but they are certainly avoidable.

To keep sales reps from digging themselves into a hole standing in front of a room of C-level executives, we’ve compiled a list of sales presentation mistakes and how to avoid them.

Before the Sales Presentation Mistakes

1. Not understanding the goals for the presentation

Does your audience want to simply learn something new or make a purchase decision? Big difference there. Also, what do you want to get out of this presentation? It can change the way you present drastically.

2. Not knowing who your audience is

Who will be in attendance at your presentation? Decision makers? Champions of your product or service? Reluctant executives? Each of these groups and others could want something completely different than the other to come out of your presentation.

This will also prepare you for overcoming foreseeable objections.

During the Sales Presentation Mistakes

3. Not keeping track of time

If you’re given no more than 30 minutes to present, know when your time starts and how much time you have left. Leave yourself time for questions at the end as well.

4. Not establishing credibility

Give an overview of who you are, why you’re an expert, and why it’s worth your audience’s time to pay attention.

5. Not focusing on your prospect’s issues

Yeah you have this great product and it’s won all of these awards from industry groups and … who cares. If it doesn’t address a problem or pain the company you’re presenting to has, they sure won’t care. Present solutions, not products.

6. Not keeping your presentation simple

The last thing you want to do is start rambling about your product and service by listing all of the features and benefits. A better way to go about it is by researching the company you are presenting to, find a handful of features to focus on that fit their situation.

And don’t feel like you need a million slides in your presentation. Keep it to about five slides for every 20 minutes.

7. Not finishing your presentation strong

Control where the conversation goes after the presentation ends. If the next move in your sales process is a product demo, suggest to arrange a product demo. If the next move is to discuss pricing, set a time to talk numbers.

After the Sales Presentation Mistakes

8. Not following up

It’s nice to reach back out to your audience after your presentation offering to answer any follow up questions they might have. You can also send them additional collateral based on how the presentation went.

And be polite. Thank them for their time.

Time to Spring Clean Your Mobile Sales Enablement Collateral

By | B2B Sales

Spring has finally sprung here after a brutal winter here in Indiana, which means it’s time to start spring cleaning your mobile sales enablement collateral.

There are substantial benefits to going through all of your mobile sales enablement collateral and giving it a thorough cleaning.

Your team’s collateral is an important part to breaking down the walls between sales and marketing. Marketing creates mobile sales enablement collateral with the feedback and ideas from sales reps in the field.

The two departments must work as one to ensure current mobile sales enablement collateral is up to date, and to find holes where new collateral is needed for overcoming objections and streamlining the sales process.

So now that you’ve opened the windows in your office to listen to those birds sing, start your mobile sales enablement collateral spring cleaning with these tips in mind:

Plan Out Your Cleaning

A good starting point before you put on the rubber gloves is to run an analytics report on all mobile sales enablement collateral in use.

What collateral is used the most? What is being used the least? What collateral was added to our mobile sales tool longest ago?

These are great questions to ask going into your analytics report deep dive. They will offer context to your content, and even show you what needs the most cleaning up.

Dust Off Older Collateral

Sure there will be some old collateral still available for your sales reps, but just because it’s an oldie doesn’t mean it’s not a goodie.

There’s a difference between old collateral that’s just taking up space for your sales team, and old collateral that needs dusted off.

With mobile sales tools, like FatStax, you can make certain pieces of collateral more visible by adding them to the app’s home screen. This will allow new light to shine on an older piece of collateral that still serves a purpose.

The analytics report may show you which mobile sales enablement collateral needs a feather duster.

Take Out The Trash

Down deep at the bottom of your marketing collateral folders, you could find some very old mobile sales enablement collateral that is still available for use. But when I say old, I’m talking to the point it’s outdated.

If you take the time and search through your content, I’m sure you’ll come across some old product specs that are outdated or case studies on clients you’ve lost. If it’s inaccurate or outdated beyond saving, take it out to the trash and get it out of your sales reps’ hands.

Be sure to track what you are throwing out. There could still be a need to replace that content’s purpose.

Spruce Up With New Creative

Maybe some of your mobile sales enablement collateral just needs a fresh coat of paint.

A good way to let your content breathe new life is with a new creative design. If you have a three-year-old white paper, let a designer create a new cover and layout. The same can be said for spec sheets, images, graphics, videos and your other mobile sales enablement collateral.

This allows the content to gain a fresh look, and might give your sales reps a fresh perspective on utilizing that content again.

One More Thing

And don’t forget to let your sales team know to expect you’re taking a mop and bucket to your mobile sales enablement collateral. A heads up to the field will let them know updated and new collateral is on its way.

Happy cleaning!

How Can Sales Apps Grow Your Global Distribution Business?

By | B2B Sales, Sales Productivity

Imagine you are the Chief Marketing Officer at a global distribution business.

Your company’s market share is increasing, new sales reps are being hired on and new offices are popping up around the globe.

Business is booming, and your boss is happy.

Now you have to deliver on your set marketing goals with a larger team in more languages and growing corporate expectation.

How do you manage it?

This is a common fear we hear from many growing companies who look at iPad sales apps as a mobile solution. They are so focused on their ability to produce on the now that they spend little time planning how they will sustain their growth over time.

More importantly, if the sales tools they have in place will accomplish their corporate goals.

Growing too big to sustain success can leave you asking these questions:

  • How do I engage all of my distributors?
  • How do I deliver new product information to them?
  • How do I measure what collateral I produce is selling product?

These are difficult questions for any marketer at a growing company.

While each company’s situation is different, sales apps just might not be in the cards. Costs, iPad and sales app adoption, training, deployment, adding new features… the list goes on what you can expect when rolling out a new sales app for a global distribution business.

While these sales app factors can scare a global distribution business from pulling the trigger, there are the immediate benefits from implementation.

Sales apps are a fast and easy way to streamline product information, pricing and marketing collateral to keeps a growing sales force in check. They can also deliver on a number of other “operational” systems to get your global distribution business growing out to market quicker.

Ease the Management of Distributing Collateral Faster

Getting updated collateral of any file type to your reps around the globe can seem daunting.

Rich media like HTML 5 won’t always go through an email, and who’s to say the rep will even check their email before going into their next product demo. Sales apps allow you to quickly manage your files with drag and drop ease.

A well developed app comes with its own content management system to keep collateral updated fast. And the app would handle multiple file types like PDFs, videos, PowerPoints, Excel sheets, CADs, and much more.

A thing you will need to consider is if your reps are using Wi-Fi only iPads, whether the app allows for offline access to those collateral files.

Otherwise, your rep is hosed with an app that is only driven by Internet access and no access to be found.

Capture Key Global Data Points for Accurate Marketing Decisions Faster

It’s a very lonely feeling to stand in a board room in front of all of your C-level officers when they ask for key data points you were unable to capture.

Or if you’re still waiting for data to come in from a certain region of the world. You need key data points without waiting.

Many sales apps are already equipped with a back end analytics that capture important measurable data. CRM integration with the sales app allows you to sync touch points and key moments in the sales process back into, Microsoft Dynamics, or whatever system you use.

That’s huge when looking at which new global markets are growing fastest. Any new leads a rep captures in the app can be automatically dropped into your marketing automation system to let lead nurturing begin immediately.

Most importantly, all of your data is secured!

Offer Engaging International Customer Experience and Support Faster

Collateral on a mobile device is only good to clients standing in front of your iPad if you can’t share it. Especially if your customers are international.

To ensure you’re not repeating the same work repackaging your marketing collateral in different languages, look to use a sales app with multi-language and currency converter capabilities. 

This way the sales app should have the ability to send branded emails loaded with collateral and pricing quotes in the correct language. If the customer has a specific question, the app should allow for searching within documents to ensure the right information is passed along.

Mobile Sales Apps Can Grow Your Global Distribution Business Faster

Winston Churchill once said, “For the first 25 years of my life I wanted freedom. For the next 25 years I wanted order. For the next 25 years I realized that order is freedom.” That’s exactly how a sales app can help grow your global distribution business faster.

The appropriate sales app can free you up to watch your global distribution business grow quickly rather than work in it.

How iPad Sales Apps Remind Distributors You Exist

By | B2B Sales

I recently sat in a meeting listing to one of our clients’ VP of Marketing explain why iPad sales apps for distributors played such a vital role strengthening their distributor channel.

Sure, mobility is now more than some buzz word many C-level executives are using. It has been proven time and time again how the right iPad sales apps help generate revenue and ROI for the company, but the reason this VP of marketing gave was not your stereotypical “board room” response.

“We don’t want our distributors to forget about us.”

It was an interesting way to put it. Does this sound similar to what you’re hoping to accomplish with your distributors?

His reason why iPad sales apps are the best sales tool for distributors was made all the more compelling as he continued on.

VP of Marketing Spells It Out

“We set the goal months ago to build a stronger dealer channel using our digital sales tools, leveraging efforts to support them. But even more so, to stay top of mind with our distributors among other companies we compete with.

“We, and our competitors, essentially produce the same type of collateral: catalogs, spec sheets and promotional materials, in the hopes we get our distributors to sell us over the other guys. We send boxes of materials to each dealership with no validity whether they at least pass it out. So how do we get our distributors to use all of our stuff available to them?

“Everyone is attached to a mobile device and the apps in which they use. It’s not only their personal lifeline, but tablets are becoming the mode in which people do business and iPads are the best mobile business solution for our representatives. iPad sales apps for distributors just made business sense from a corporate standpoint.

“We are able to feed our dealer channel the information, data, videos, specs, images and other materials they need in real time to their iPad. No more printing costs. No more shipping boxes of catalogs. And we now have analytics into what our reps are sending out and if their lead is engaged.

“We are able to differentiate ourselves from our competitors, thus staying top of mind with our dealers. Using an iPad sales app has been without a doubt our best sales tool for distributors.”

Distributors Are Doing More With Technology by Implementing New Digital Initiatives

A recent survey by Modern Distribution Management reports “distributors have invested in technology to improve the way they manage their businesses and to improve customer service.” iPad sales apps for distributors goes hand in hand.

Using iPad sales apps for distributors is a lot like trying to find land at sea through some pea soup fog. Your distributors are in a choppy sea of companies giving them so many materials to help sell their individual products that it fogs their ability to sell effectively. They’re lost and in need of a simple mobile sales solution.

By providing an iPad sales app to your distributors, you are effectively becoming the lighthouse they need. You are guiding them to land, making it easier to work with your products and company. Your product information will outshine the competitors through the fog, and your distributors will be able to steer out of choppy seas while the competition sinks.

What are the Best Ways to Strengthen Distributor Channels with Mobile Apps?

By | B2B Sales

There are many ways companies try to strengthen distributor channels with mobile apps. But as a manufacturing marketer, you know it always comes back to sales.

One way to strengthen distributor channel sales with business mobile apps is to help your partners change the process in which they sell your products.

But how do you do that if you don’t have direct access to your distributor reps?

Increasingly, marketers are employing their mobile sales apps to reach their distributor’s reps and influence the way they sell. Mobility is how business will thrive moving forward. Mobility is how consumers will continue to buy.

Given this, many marketers are seeking arguments to make the business case to move forward with business mobile apps for their distributor partners.

So, without further adieu, here are three ways business mobile apps can strengthen distributor channels for companies of any size:

1. Help them stop wasting paper

A great example of this is one company we work with. They wanted to cut down on the number of paper copies of brochures and three-pagers they were mailing out to OEMs every time they released a new product line. It turned out the distributor reps were tired of getting big boxes of brochures every month and were actually using older ones with the wrong information most of the time anyway.

It was a big “a-ha!” moment for both the manufacturer’s marketing team and the owner of the distributor.

In the end, the manufacturer made their iPad sales app available to the their distributor’s reps and helped them buy iPads for the team. They still send out print brochures of course, but the budget and waste have largely gone away because the distributor reps are using iPads in their sales process, too. PLUS the manufacturer has increased revenue through their OEM channel via the good will created by the app/iPad offer.

2. Get Your Latest Content to Distributors Faster

Another client of ours created some fairly elaborate PowerPoint presentations for their internal sales team to showcase a new product line on their iPads. These things were true works of art with videos embedded and timed entry of tables and graphs.

One of their sales team was doing a ride along with her distributor and showed her the presentations in the app.  “Why don’t we have this too?” was her immediate response.

This got the ball rolling for providing access to the manufacturer’s sales app containing the PowerPoint presentations and other sales documents. Ultimately helping the distributor sell the new product faster with eased access to the latest hot sales presentations, the very same ones used by the manufacturer’s internal sales team.

Your company has made it to where they are today by coming up with new innovative ways to increase profitability, market share and brand awareness. New ideas, technologies and practices are the fuel which strengthen businesses. Those innovative ideas can strengthen your distribution and OEM networks, too.

Business mobile apps can be the vehicle in which your new ideas will fuel your distribution network to new heights.

3. Use Pilots to Meet Directly with Distributor Reps

We continually hear from marketers that cannot directly make contact with distributor’s reps.  The distributors literally do not let them contact the reps.  I can imagine this is an even bigger issue with distributors in other countries given distance and time changes.

If you are in the process of rolling out a mobile app for distributors, we cannot recommend enough performing a pilot complete with expectations for the app and training on how to use it.  During pilots, we recommend at least 2 meetings with the team. Even if this meeting is by WebEx or GoToMeeting, you are talking directly to their reps!

Once the app is launched to your distributor’s reps in the field, the work isn’t over! Setting up regular feedback sessions even if it is a survey help these new ideas stick and strengthen distributor channels. After all, they represent your product and your company even if you can’t talk to them.

Can mobile apps strengthen distributor channels?

Ultimately, the answer is up to you and how much effort you put in.  Clearly, we have shown you three ways to accomplish this; go green, access your latest hot stuff, and use the pilot to interact directly with distributors reps.

How are you strengthening your distributor channels this year? Is a mobile app in the cards?

You can read more about how to avoid critical mistakes rolling out iPads to distributors right here.

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