In my previous post on “Why Important Customer Meetings Fall Flat …” I wrote about the importance of deep-dive customer analysis for large-scale, strategic opportunities. Here I extend the discussion to show how today’s huge time investment to analyze enterprise customers screams for divvying up the dual-duties of analyzing customers and selling to them – and how that will rapidly increase sales.
Sure, many firms suspect they overpay sales reps (just ask anyone in Marketing). But that’s because firms pay the reps to Google, read SEC documents and analyst reports, search tweets, blogs and other social media sites, dig up marketing reports, interpret endless company earnings and investor calls, and so on. And quite frankly, sales people are not so good at all this – nor want to be. It’s not their bag. But they do need to deeply understand their strategic customers – for account planning, messaging, sales calls and proposals, relationship-building, and executive briefings.
The Time Drain – 100+ Hours per Year per Strategic Customer:
To deeply understand and monitor just one strategic customer takes over 100 hours of research annually (see table below) – i.e. sales reps need to spend over two and ½ weeks each year on research and analysis for each key customer. If they have 5 key customers, they would need to spend 500 hours or more than 25% of their working year (3 months per year) on research alone. (And don’t forget they also need to spend time on paperwork, internal meetings, training, and traveling.)
Sounds silly I know, and I doubt many successful sales people can spend this much effort researching and analyzing. But look at the table below to see which information sources you would leave out of deep-dive analysis. Of course, services such as Boardroom Insiders can help you more quickly identify much of this intelligence, but in-depth customer analysis requires a full market scan, as ever-changing customer puzzle pieces are everywhere. Your competitors may assemble a clearer final picture and take the advantage.
Trending large today in the enterprise tech solution space is the increase in the sheer number of decision-makers and influencers (the buyer ecosystem) a sales team needs to consider. CIOs, CEO’s, CMOs, CTOs, CISOs and CFOs often now weigh in on complex enterprise solutions, markedly extending sales team research requirements.
Add to this to the trend to drive the “Challenger Sales Model” which requires much more customer knowledge and true insight. The “Challenger” sales rep is one who uses deep understanding of a customer’s business to serve them and to teach them, pushing their thinking, and providing different views on how to manage and compete. – Try doing all that with just a D&B report and Google.
- a) If enterprise sales reps do all the necessary customer analysis, they will win some big deals, but will run out of time to sell to others.
- b) If sales reps don’t do their homework, they will have more time to work deals, but will be much less effective selling.
How do you balance this trade-off – spend more time analyzing (with less customer interaction) or more time selling (with shoddy intelligence)?
The Sales Organization Opportunity:
Herein lays an unmistakable opportunity for forward-thinking sales organizations:
Provide the deep-dive customer analysis to sales reps for strategic opportunities. More than simply giving access to Hoovers and the other generic syndicated sources, sales organizations should also assign a qualified research and strategy professional to exploit all these research sources for strategic customer opportunities. Take your sales reps out of the searching & filtering business (which no one in your company wants to see them spending their time on) and let them focus on strategizing and executing (which they live for and excel at).
Imagine each of your key enterprise sales reps having 5+ weeks more time to sell each year, plus using professional in-depth customer analysis — all for the cost of a qualified analyst, whom I call the embedded “Briefing Insight Strategist”. This Strategist could help map the intelligence below to actually opportunities — providing sales teams, executives, and product leaders the insight they need to meet with and inspire customers.
The Nub: For strategic opportunities, you’ll find a substantial ROI by redirecting the deep-dive customer analysis burden to professional customer analysts, and unleashing your sales force to drive higher-value sales activities. The many bennies:
- much more time to execute sales
- much higher quality customer analysis and strategies for all sales activities
- much more effective (informed) discussion leader performances at executive briefings
- more sales, stronger, accelerated relationships, and more satisfied sales teams
- much more satisfied customers who will feel more understood and inspired
– everyone wins.
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