In conducting sales presentations, I’ve worked with reps that have introduced themselves to the customer and then handed the entire meeting over to me. I’ve also experienced the opposite where the rep did the entire meeting and only referred to the SE for questions he himself did not know. Both can be successful, however which one tends to be the better approach?
The short answer is that with few exceptions, the SE should be conducting 75% or more of the sales meeting, and even a higher portion during followup conversations.
If you buy into the idea that most people do not make primarily rational-based decisions, then consider:
- Who does a buyer relate more to, someone who could be doing their job or a professional salesperson?
- Who can do a better job at persuasion, someone who understands the nuances of a buyers job, or someone working off a canned script? (see what I did there)
- Who possesses more innate credibility when speaking, the rep or SE?
If you buy into the idea that most technical buyers make fact-based decisions, then consider:
- SEs spend upwards of 30% of their time learning in some form or fashion about their technology, the competition, the industry, and market trends. The rep tends to get their information 2nd hand from the SE. There’s nothing wrong with that, but who can speak more specifically and authoritatively on the subject of your technology?
- Most conventional sales methodologies will talk about telling a story to the buyer. Ask yourself (as you’re a technical buyer of many things) if when you’re dealing with a sales presentation, would you just prefer them to get to the facts then let you create the story around it? How many times did you sit through the first 10 minutes of a sales pitch and STILL not understand what they actually did? I’ll bet you a dollar that wasn’t an SE doing that intro.
- There is a misnomer that people have many different types of learning styles and that you should play different roles to accommodate these differences. Tell-show-do is still best fundamental structure for learning. And if your prospect doesn’t walk out of your meeting feeling sufficiently educated on your solution and its merits do you think they are in a good position to move forward? Who is in the best position to direct this structured learning?
Is all this to say the rep does not play a critical role in these meetings? Of course not, they should always be:
- Giving you an amazing introduction
- Scanning for non-verbal feedback
- Capturing notes/follow up items
- Establishing sale prerequisites (budget confirmations, etc.)
- Building rapport and their own credibility through appropriate questioning
- Closing for the next step in the sales process
Have a different opinion? What percentage would you suggest and why?