How often in the course of a week or a month do you answer the same question? Back when he worked in sales management positions, Trey Tramonte, the President and CEO of Bloomfire, repeatedly experienced a frustration familiar to all sales executives.
“I would receive the same question 10 to 15 times a week from various reps or managers,” he said.
Salespeople tend to face a lot of the same challenges and questions from customers, but each time Tramonte provided a response to one staff member, they’d go along with their day without anyone else getting the benefit of the response. In different positions at different companies, Tramonte found that the sales departments he worked in had the same habit.
“We all tend to have one-on-one communication over and over,” he explained.
Obviously, this isn’t efficient. IDC research has found that information workers, including sales representatives, spend on average almost 23 percent of their time searching for, creating, or updating documents. Then there’s the time they spend traveling, doing other administrative tasks, helping with training, and performance reviews. Add it all up, and the time they spend actually selling starts to look pretty sparse.
No one should then be surprised that 65 percent of businesses in a SiriusDecisions survey said their sales representatives spend too much time on non-selling activities.
Making all this worse, the time they do spend selling is often unproductive, mostly because they don’t have the information necessary to be successful. When Forrester talked to executives about the time they spend with salespeople, they found a lot of frustration with the level of preparedness of sales reps.
- 57 percent said that sales reps weren’t knowledgeable about their industry.
- 70 percent said the reps weren’t prepared to answer the questions they asked.
- 75 percent said the reps didn’t come in prepared with knowledge about their business.
- 77 percent said the reps didn’t understand the issues they faced or how the company’s product could help.
- 78 percent said the reps didn’t even have any case studies or examples they could share with them.
Making sure your sales representatives understand the product they’re selling isn’t enough.
Mike Kunkle, Commercial Training & Development Leader with a Fortune 50 corporation, emphasizes, “You have to start by really understanding your customers, their issues, your buyer personas, the journeys they’re on, the impacts that they’re avoiding, the outcomes that they’re looking for, and what the best solution is appropriately for each of those parties or personas.”
You can’t expect your sales team to achieve that on their own. You have to provide them the resources and knowledge they need to go into those meetings armed with a better understanding of your prospect and what your product can do for them specifically.
To learn more, check out our white paper,“How a Knowledge Management System Empowers Your Sales Team.” It explores the challenges today’s salespeople face, how a social knowledge network can help, and what to look for in a social knowledge network.
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