The Top 10 Things To Rethink About Selling Digital Solutions

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One startup employee offers tips to the companies that are always pitching her their products… badly. 

By Brandy Alexander-Wimberly (Digital & Social Marketing Manager, Interrupt)

Forgive me CRM platforms, social media monitoring tools and data analytics companies if this comes off as a bit of a rant, but I’m only trying to help.

Here’s the deal, I’ve recently been tasked with vetting some new platforms for a marketing agency I work for. What I need to do is find a few key platforms that make sense from a budgetary and performance standpoint to use internally and for clients. It’s not rocket science, and I’m ready to pull the trigger. I’m a hot lead! However, I’ve found the process to be increasingly clunky, painful, and intrusive. But I have pointers!

These tips should be taken as end user feedback, and for founders, ideas that may present an opportunity to rethink and repurpose a sales process that seems to be industry standard-but IMHO in need of a refresh.

Don’t Make Me Explain My Entire Business

You’re a rep for a large CRM company; you should know what an advertising agency does. And if you’re not sure before ringing me up, at least refer to my company website, my LinkedIn profile, etc. A quick Google search will give you the highlights of the company I work for, and of course a little intel on me personally. Part of what your software does is Lead Intelligence. I came to your site, filled out your form, so please don’t go into your sales call asking me 150 questions about where I work, what city I’m in and the minutia of what my company does.

It’s like when you call your bank and have to enter your account number five different times. I’ve got 25 minutes. What can you tell me about your platform that an agency would find relevant?

OK, I know what you’re thinking; they need to know some information to target their pitch to the proper audience. You’re right. But let’s make it a conversation. It’s an easier path to discovering some initial questions I may have and understanding how the platform may work for our business.

Make it a Conversation

If I were to walk into a car dealership, there is no way the salesperson would talk at me for 30 minutes straight about features, bells, whistles and how the car works. I understand this is a different sale, but fundamentally, is it? I want to be schmoozed! I’m more apt to be intrigued by a sales rep that is open to conversing, versus running down a canned list of questions that their boss Lumberg makes them read from. Again, I have 25 minutes, if 20 minutes is me telling you about my company, how are you going to sell me? The rep may get a ton of great info for their end, but I’m not likely to even remember the conversation happened let alone what I was supposed to be experiencing.

Know Your Audience

I’ve got 25 minutes to hear your spiel. If it were me, I would take a look my prospect’s website and try to understand how my platform would be relevant for their company and their clients so I can jump into a targeted conversation. Take one look at my LinkedIn profile and you’ll see I have experience in the digital marketing space. Not to be rude, guy from digital marketing platform, but I know what CPC means.

This is our first date; I don’t need to hear all of the nitty-gritty. Let’s just have a talk about what your software can bring to the table. I’m not ready to pick out my china with you.

Bad: “Tell me what your company does”

Good: “I noticed Interrupt is a strategic marketing and design agency that specializes in the building materials space. You would love this feature…”

Don’t Show Me Text, Show Me UX!

If I feel like I need to hack the site to see what the UI looks like, I may not even click over to that highly coveted lead form. A conversion! Assume that even before a sales rep approaches me I have visited your competitor’s sites to see what looks like a good fit. I want to visualize! Like everyone else, I have compressed time, and like all ADD digital professionals, I’d like to understand what your company does in one minute or less.

Balanced Payments does it right! Check out their demo dashboard. This is a perfect way to experience the UX and functionality of their platform. I don’t need an account and I don’t need to see MY data in there to understand how it could work for my business. I may come back to this page a dozen times before I’m ready to commit to a purchase.

The 30-Day Free Trial Is Flawed

B2B marketers should understand that sometimes a 30-day turnaround on a purchase decision is simply not possible. If you really want me to understand how your platform works, get buy in from the team and commit to investing the time, money and training, it’s going to take longer than 30 days. I may not even get to my free trial for 30 days, and then poof it’s gone. Why not make it 10 free logins? It could take months to make this purchase decision.

Don’t Call My Mobile Phone

Seriously. And know your prospect’s time zone! No one has ever signed up for enterprise software from a random call after-hours.

Try to Be Upfront With Your Pricing

You know what your pricing is, I know you know what your pricing is, so why do I have to play chess with you to get it? It’s what will ultimately be a major decision in pursuing an ongoing relationship with your company and investing in your platform. The only thing that not showing your pricing tells me is that you’re trying to get the most out of me.

Make a Crispy Video

You can quickly and elegantly tell your product’s story with a few minutes of video. Check out these two great examples of how video works to tell a site visitor everything they need to know without pouring over pages and pages of text.

OMG Chief Happiness Officer

If your company is staffed entirely by people straight out of accelerators and you have cool titles, why is Debbie Downer your sales person? It’s false advertising! I’m reaching out to be a part of the experience, so when I get arrogant sales guy who is doing me a favor because their company has so and so on the board and they just know Google will buy them some day and they do this spiel 30 times per day and just want to make it to happy hour, I’m all like “the chief happiness officer is whack.” It’s patronizing.

Who is doing it wrong? I signed up for a service and the automated response came back, “Let’s get coffee” Cute idea, but lame-be real.

Follow Up

I would rather have five ten-minute chats with my rep then two one-hour calls. Selling enterprise software is typically not a one-to-one sale. On the client side there are multiple stakeholders and considerations involved. Reps should be patient and understand that it’s a complicated, long tail sale. Not a one and done.

What are your top sales rep pet peeves?

brandyalexander_wimberly_lrAbout the guest blogger: Brandy Alexander-Wimberly is a digital & social marketing manager with Interrupt, a strategic marketing and design agency. She is also founder of social payment startup Buyvite Group Pay and of  the blog http://www.SiliconRustBelt.com a site devoted to the startup scene in the upper Midwest. Follow her @siliconrustbelt