What to do when your sales team stop selling

Let's start by setting the scene with a couple of assumptions.

Let's begin by accepting that your sales teams know what they're doing and how to sell. We can also assume that you are selling a worthwhile product or service. It has a value that potential customers can see some worth in. But for some reason, we're not selling. Finally, let's assume that price isn't an issue. 

So, what are we going to look at? First, we will look at how we can help make or break a sale and how it can help start the sales process again.

Product confusion

Let me tell you, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Products are created to fill particular niches when you get customer feedback. The initial product, let's call it the XM1, does well, but a specific customer profile won't buy it because it doesn't wall mount. Not a fucking problem; we'll create the XM1w, designed for the future, designed for wall mounting. Another idea from talking to customers is that they'd love a smaller screen so the XM1 can fit into a smaller footprint. So, Boomshackalacka, we're proud to announce the XM1se and for those looking to the future, here's the wall-mounted version, the XM1sew. Hmm, maybe not the XM1sew, as all you can see when you read that is the word "sew", so we'll change it to XM1wse. Perfecto! Are you looking to get XM1wse in Asia? You'll need to specify the XM1wse-d as the 'd' is our regional indicator. And the wheel keeps turning until your customers go online and are battered with various options on the same product, all with esoteric naming conventions and too much choice. 

The scenario we ran through doesn't happen overnight; it takes months of small, incremental steps into the product soup of shit. The time you realise that you're up to your neck in it is when it becomes too hard to sell, and your sales teams are struggling to explain the product line rather than how the product line will make or save you money.

We're looking at a brand problem: how you face out to the world. We can look at your product portfolio and rebuild it to be more apparent to your customers, eliminating esoteric names and shifting to more descriptive names that help explain and sell the products. 

I can't lie; streamlining your product portfolio can be a painful process. It's amazing how attached people get to the status quo. However, dealing with complexity built up over time, works to a point; your salespeople are good and know how to navigate this complexity. And they don't want to mess with anything that could interfere with their compensation. 

The question we put to the sales team is straightforward. Is the product confusion getting in the way of having those sales conversations in the first place? There's a great stat that Google released, which was that a customer was usually around 60% of the way through their buying process before they reached out to a salesperson. In that first 60%, that customer is educating themselves on your product, comparing your product to other solutions, going back to your product to assess the product against a newfound solution, going round and round in a loop of exploration and evaluation until they are comfortable enough to start a deeper conversation. 

The great thing about that Google stat is that it's from 2011. That education phase for the customer is probably more in the 80% range now. But if you're making it hard for your customers to go on that journey, making it easy to explore your options, you won't be on the consideration list. Tightening your product architecture will help your customers evaluate you quickly and get you to the sales team quicker, more educated, and more informed about your solutions. 

Remove the curse of product bloat and also reduce the time for sales teams to explain the product portfolio so that they can get to the real meat of any sales team call, how they can help their customers to save money or make money.

Looking at your product portfolio is always our first step in kick-starting sales. You are taking away complexity to make the product shine, to make it easier to understand and, in turn, more accessible to sell. Our role in this process is to be the objective outsider, ask critical and challenging questions, highlight the flaws and strengths in the product portfolio, and be the confidant of the customer so we can get answers you may not get. You can't participate in and facilitate this process; you need an outside perspective to bring an unbiased, honest view on what we want: to sell quickly. Get in touch.