The multitude of changes that COVID-19 has created within the sales profession has been well documented. Remote work has erased the benefit of tenure and outside experience to a degree, making interactions stale, boring, and ineffective in many instances.
Sales organizations have lost their “magic.” They have lost the ability to create a sense of wonder within the client and the differentiation that results from a sense of showmanship. Many sales organizations are filling their pipelines under a less than rigorous qualification standard, rushing towards solutions, and working towards becoming a “proposal mill.”
Have win rates stayed static or declined? In my experience, a 25% win rate in today’s environment has become a de facto standard. Sales organizations are finding it more difficult to move higher and wider in a client/prospect environment due to limitations set by remote work and a reliance on technologies like Zoom, Teams, and Webex. Messages and the accompanying presentation/discussion are not seen as valuable to higher-level executives and your team may be falling victim to their own sales inertia.
Presentations and important meetings were well rehearsed, and attention was given to the “theatrics” of the interaction in the pre-covid environment. Unfortunately, we have lost that magic – we have lost our creative edge. The good news is we can regain it with planning and a changed mindset. The better news is we can enter a potential greenfield of differentiation – because our competitors are not allowing the magic to flourish either.
What exactly is the magic your teams have lost? It is the production, the theatre, the visuals, and the experience. Ask yourself a question – where has your team been extremely creative in their approach to presenting? When has your team wowed a client?
The change happens when you stop thinking of the presentation or the discussion as a task/ milestone – and start thinking of the interaction as an event. The guiding question becomes, “How can we present our message in an entertaining and dramatic manner?”
Depending on the size of the opportunity, what investment should you make? Your team can deploy numerous building blocks such as video, graphic slides, key executives, SMEs, pre-conditioning mailers sent to each client/prospect person in attendance, personal gifts/thank you items, or rehearsed visual components that add value to your event.
The majority of presentations your team is currently delivering are very similar to what your team’s competitors are doing: A Zoom call with an introduction, a reference to an earlier email containing the documents to be discussed, supporting members of the team, and a very boring walk-through of the key points. They answer questions and check in with each participant to ensure the points are understood – then the presentation is over. There was no magic – it was not an event, it was not overly memorable, and it was destined to become one of the undifferentiated numbers of presentations that resulted in a lost sales opportunity. Remember – if you have a 25% win rate, you are losing 75% PERCENT of the time!
This is where leadership and your coaching can make a significant difference. Your teams are doing the best they can. They are in a rut and may not even recognize it. They are not taking risks, being creative, or using potential resources effectively – or at all.
Your coaching should start with the key questions – “What are we trying to do?” and “How is what we are proposing going to make a difference for the client in terms of business outcomes?”
The answer to your question should help your team create a win theme. This simple yet amazingly effective phrase, motto, and tagline will differentiate your team from the competition. Doing this is the mark of a sophisticated sales organization. The job is not done, however. The hard but FUN part is “How can we create an approach that brings this to life with the client, is memorable, and becomes an EVENT?”
The magic is not dead – it is dormant. Start coaching your team to unleash their creative muscle. Involve your marketing team to help you ask “what if?” questions. Create brainstorming sessions to unlock the wealth of creativity within your team and invite people who can add that spark to think unconventionally about developing and executing an EVENT.
The more creative your team becomes, the more differentiated and memorable their messaging becomes. It injects fun into the process and breeds an environment that takes on a life of its own. There is not any downside – just higher win rates, greater levels of client/prospect engagement, more insights, and overall better delivery of the key messages.
Do not wait! The magic is waiting for you to prompt your team to discover and use it. The upside is terrific, and the difference will be amazing.
Pick one of your top TCV opportunities and set up a meeting where you can brainstorm ideas on turning the team’s presentation into an event. Invite marketing and other creative people to the meeting. Be sure to brief them beforehand. Clarify what the team is proposing to do and what the business outcomes are to the client – then focus on the win theme and HOW your team can bring it to life.