The 4 Pillars of Sales Development Are:
- Understanding Buyers
- Sales Stages
- Value Proposition
- Meeting Management
Every company must stand upon something. A foundation. A base. A place from which it can operate. The very pillars that hold it upright.
To make an analogy, your company is your temple, the place where you and your employees might go to make offerings to that fickle god named “Business”.
Many patrons visit your temple to leave offerings of their own, your potential clients, but they can only patronize your temple because it’s actually standing upright and thriving. What keeps it standing?
The Answer is Sales Development.
The temple of your company is held up by strong pillars, pillars that comprise Sales Development, and without them, it will all come crashing down around you.
For companies that have crumbling pillars, question why their foundation seems insecure, or for those wishing to start anew and build a company from the ground up, understanding these fundamental pillars of Sales Development will ensure long-lasting success.
Here are the 4 Pillars of Sales Development that we at SalesHive believe keep your company standing tall.
Pillar 1 – Understanding Your Buyers
Sympathy. Comprehension. Understanding. These notions are not just relegated to the business world as an entity but are specifically instrumental to your Sales Development.
Having a solid understanding of something is the first step in truly thriving.
When interacting with buyers, a key to propelling your Sales Development is understanding them.
It’s important to ask yourself, “Who exactly are my buyers? What are their needs? What are their risk aversion levels?”
A simple way to answer is these questions: “They are normal everyday people, just like you, with families and a life outside of work.”
For good or ill, there are few Gary Vaynerchuks in the world; entrepreneurial titans that eat, sleep and breathe work, often forsaking these three basic functions to get back in the office.
But for most people, their job is just a regular 9-5 to get the bills paid and keep food on the table.
Most people are not trying to be innovative, revolutionary, or shift the landscape of the world with their insights. They are looking for less work, easy answers, and easy ways to get promoted or receive a raise.
This is in no way a condemnation.
Most people fall into this category, and while it’s a blunt statement, it’s important to be very clear about it. Most of your buyers are not Gary Vaynerchuk. They’re just… people.
Knowing this, it’s important to shift the expectations you have toward your buyers.
They aren’t going to be jumping at the bit to work with you. They won’t zealously rush toward a partnership. And they won’t go out of their way to make your life easier.
Buying is often extra work, and Sales are usually added work on top of someone’s normal responsibilities. Buyers have other priorities that they will focus on instead of continuing a sales conversation.
What you must do is incentivize them to continue the dialogue.
Instead of pushing hard to sell, imagine the first call with a prospect is like a first date. You’re just trying to get to know one another and develop some rapport.
You don’t have time for a lot of questions on the first call, and building familiarity and trust should be the only goal.
One call is hardly ever enough time to hit all the concerns and risks in their mind, and trying to do so will leave you in no man’s land. A place from whence few connections ever return.
Understanding buyers leads you to ask questions that keep you out of no man’s land.
Questions to help learn what their industry involves, the market size, the products they sell, and how much inventory or services they move and provide.
During the sales process, you want to show your prospects how well you listened to them, that you exactly understood their needs, and have removed risk for them. Remember always, they are just people and they want to minimize all risks.
Buyers do not trust salespeople.
Nearly all buyers have the same risk concern for any work purchase: “Is the cost worth the service? Will this make me look bad? Will this decision get me fired?”
Buyers are just people, requiring security and comfort. Security and comfort that can be provided by you, assuming you properly understand them.
Understanding that your buyers are people and that they desire safety and security, will help you to foster better relationships with them, and close-win more often.
Pillar 2 – Sales Development Stages
All businesses need to be well run, streamlined cohesive units. Because of this, a major pillar in B2B Sales Development is establishing all the stages of your Sales process.
Predetermined and orderly processes help with organization, limit confusion, and bolster efficiency. The first major step in establishing this pillar is to document your process and create repeatable, trackable steps to progress through with prospects.
All companies will have a unique and slightly personal way to do things, but your process can, and probably should include all of the following:
This is the stage in which trust and familiarity is formed. Asking questions to help identify pain points and needs of your prospects should be the primary focus of the call. By doing this you can show them exactly how you and your service can fix their problems. Intro calls should not extend beyond 30 minutes, and by the end, callers should have a CTA (call to action) to set up a secondary meeting.
This stage is after enough trust and rapport have been established. During the demo, you present the prospect with the full weight of your value prop, get them to fall in love with your service, and help them conceive a successful vision of themselves working alongside you. With a good demo, you can achieve another follow-up, and move the prospect further along the decision-making process.
This stage is where you meet with the decision-makers and those of authority, if you haven’t already been in contact with them prior to this. Often this meeting is with the rest of the members of the C-suite and the rep who you’ve already been in contact with and have established some rapport. With a good proposal, you offer a cohesive, articulate, and data-driven vision of a partnership, successfully moving your prospect toward implementation.
Trial of Assessment
Prospects love trials. Freebies. They need the security to see if the vision of your proposal will line up with reality. This is where you put your money where your mouth is; and afterward, their money. During this phase, you collect data on your working partnership and will be able to analyze it to demonstrate the success of your product and service. For companies with good product knowledge and have high levels of success, trial periods are efficient deal clenchers, locking in partnerships.
This stage is where your accumulated data from the trial is presented, and your reviews and assessments take place. It’s all about displaying your performance to them. Any prospects that are on the fence ultimately make their final decisions here. Good results from the trial lead to a prospect jumping on board. Bad results, they walk away.
Successful trial periods lead to this final stage. This is where the vision of partnership goes from theoretical to tangible, and a formal contract is signed between both parties. Different companies have different ways to formulate contracts, but in the end, they all result in the same thing. A Win. For both.
Pillar 3 – Value Proposition
A good value proposition is paramount in Sales Development. You and your company might have the best product in the industry, throughout the entire world perhaps, but if you don’t know how to explain your value, portray your ability to act on it, and create that belief in others, then your superior product means nothing.
You must have a good value prop, and the best value props come in story form.
The first thing to ask yourself is, “What is your concise Company story or pitch.”
Using stories for Sales has a significantly greater impact on win rates than just offering forward data. Data is boring. It’s much too easy to gloss over and miss the message of what truly makes your product best.
Yes, some particular buyers might be predisposed to sift through data without distractions, but those are the exceptions, not the rule.
In Effective Data Storytelling by Brent Dykes, he elaborately explains how the human mind associates and remembers stories far better than data. People are 5x more likely to remember a story then they are a statistic or data point.
The human brain is built for it, processes stories with more areas of the brain, and can recall information much better when disseminated in story form.
As humans, we simply connect better with stories
His book is well worth a read for any Sales rep who must pitch their company’s value to your ideal buyer, but rest assured, everything should try to be told as a story.
The introductory pitch, your case studies, your value proposition, all of it.
By formulating your value proposition into a story, this particular pillar of Sales Development will never waiver.
Pillar 4 – Meeting Management
A lot of attention is offered to value propositions, the cemented process of how to schedule and set meetings properly, and what your buyer interests look like, but a strikingly little amount of attention is granted toward how to manage a meeting once engaged with the prospect.
Just as much as the Sales Process, the pillar of Meeting Management should be organized, concrete, and consistent.
Below are several components to manage a meeting, and they do not occur necessarily in this order.
When engaged in an intro call, it’s always vital to introduce yourself to new people on the call and engage in small talk. I’m in no way suggesting you just openly ask how the weather is, a clear signal that you are an amateur, but rather engage in small talk within a structure of where you eventually want to end up in the dialogue.
Ask them how they managed business and employee challenges during Covid-19, how their infrastructure is holding up, their focuses and ambitions, and other seemingly innocuous questions that give you insight into them.
Set An Agenda
Before you even begin the intro call, you should have an agenda of what you want to discuss. This not only helps during the intro and with small talk but also how to move beyond it. A rep should never enter dialogue without a plan or script.
A script will keep the call on track, minimize rabbit trails, and focus limited time into a productive discussion.
One way to have a script help your agenda move beyond the intro can look something like this:
“Based on what you’ve been telling me so far, I think we have a few key case studies that will show our experience and demonstrate how we can help solve your current problems. As I go through the presentation please feel free to stop me anytime and ask any questions. I’ll also make sure to leave sometime at the end. Sound good?”
Prospect Response: “Sounds good!”
“Great, then let’s get started…”
By listening to the buyer and hearing their dilemma’s, and having an agenda to get through, you can swiftly navigate from small talk into the next step of the call.
Show Case Studies
Case studies are a valuable tool during a meeting. It is the concrete data, taken from other clients, that shows exactly what you and your company can accomplish.
As mentioned before, keeping your case studies in a story format helps the buyer to understand and retain your value proposition better, but you should focus mainly on the end result for them.
Liken them to other clients you’ve already established success with, and try to make as many similarities with them as possible.
If the prospect has a similar business, platform, product, or operations style as a former or current client, model them into the case study, allowing them to see themselves as the one with the successful results.
Case studies are not a tool for you to brag or show off, but simply articulate the abilities of your company and product to successfully execute on your value prop.
Ask Follow Up Questions
Just as small talk accomplishes more insight into your buyers, asking direct questions to get clarification on any information not attained helps to understand your potential buyer. A list of relevant questions should always be a part of a script.
Questions should be open-ended but focused enough to steer the conversation to where you want it to go, keeping with the agenda. Specifically, keep them thinking about your value prop.
Part of your script can set up these questions: “You have mentioned X a few times, I was wondering if you could tell me Y?”
You should also get rid of as much doubt as you can while on the call, and being frank is often the best policy.
“Is there any reason you could see us not working together?”
By asking these types of questions you encourage them to voice their own thoughts and invest in the conversation, which will lead them to understand your value proposition better.
4 Pillars of Sales Development
Using the analogy of your company as your temple being held up by pillars is rather simplistic, but it aptly conveys the notion that Sales Development is a necessary and vital part of the integrity of a good business.
Sales Development is what keeps a business standing, and without the 4 pillars, it will all come crashing down around you.
Understanding these fundamental pillars of Sales Development will ensure long-lasting success and keep your company standing tall.