Performance marketing tips and advice

My latest thoughts on sales & marketing

Death of a One-Size-Fits-All Sales Process

Published on July 01, 2015

Sales Process

Step inside most any sales department and you’ll likely find a similar dynamic: the insistence on being “fair” with sales territory.

It makes sense, right? Each sales rep should have the same opportunity level for success. Nobody wants to feel frozen out.

But does it always make the best sense for a company? Regular readers of this blog know that we’ve discussed the role of personality and psychology in marketing before. As part of a road map to stronger campaigns and higher ROI, we use predictive analytics to provide a full portrait of buyer psyche and create the sales plays accordingly. What we haven’t discussed yet is how important personality can be on the company’s side – specifically the personality of sales employees.

It goes without saying that the chemistry built between buyer and sales rep has a huge impact on the sales conversation. That’s why companies spend considerable resources grooming their sales team to be persuasive, charismatic and informed. How the buyer feels about the sales rep has a direct influence on the purchase outcome. It’s for this reason that dividing sales territory based on equal measures is not as strong of a strategy as basing it on compatibility.

Developing a Customized Approach

Let’s say one of your sales reps is really good at what we call solutioning. He’s great at getting customers to open up, because his approach says, “Tell me your problems and I’ll see how we can help.” Another sales rep shines at showcasing your company strengths. Her approach is more focused on “Let me tell you all about the company and everything we do, as well as everything we’ve accomplished.” This works with customers who want to be reassured that they’re choosing the right vendor.

Assign those sales reps to the wrong customers and you’ve possibly lost out on two deals. But, by taking the time to understand the buyer and then assign a compatible rep, you’ve just boosted the likelihood of a positive close.

This type of personality profiling isn’t just about the sales rep. It’s about understanding and cloning the best sales plays: what conversations to have and how. What process should you follow? What tone should you use? Will bringing in other content be helpful or superfluous? Should you be nonchalant, or more formal? Even something as simple as your approach to phone and web meetings should be considered.

We’ve talked before about the role of personas and data in identifying your ideal customer. But simply understanding who those customers are and where to find them isn’t enough. You still have to sell to them – and that means customizing your sales plays based on customer nuances.

That means going beyond simple demographic data. You need to get granular enough to understand how the customer builds trust, what level of service they’re looking for, what content they respond to. You also need to create formulas that go beyond “best customer” status and look also at “best sales plays” in terms of each customer type. By examining your CRM, email and call history and past deals, you’ll begin to see patterns that can guide future sales approaches. Who was involved? What factors drove success with that type of client?

This is the beauty of data modeling and prescriptive analytics. Because you collect and use such a wide array of data, you develop a highly individualized portrait that lets you tailor your sales approach at every single step. From the tone of the rep who contacts the buyer, the structure of the offer, even the type of meeting to set up, you are providing exactly what the buyer wants right when it matters most.

Make no mistake, this is advanced sales, the kind that drives powerful results. But it’s not only for big companies with a sophisticated infrastructure. The right tools are out there and they can help any sales team customize their plays for accelerated ROI.