Our belief is that the biggest miss in sales leadership today is failing to invest resources in the single biggest needle-mover of sales success – the sales conversation.
SharperAx and Corporate Visions, a top B2B sales messaging company that helps its customers craft ‘conversations that win’, teamed together on a survey to get more insight into this apparent resource misallocation.
The survey had two parts: the first part asked respondents to rank the most important driver for winning deals and to rank where they are currently investing their dollars and time.
The second part asked the respondents to review 6 pairs of sales investment choices and to pick the bigger needle-mover in each. Each pair had one conversation-related activity and one automated sales tool.
Corporate Visions surveyed its panel and had 430 sales and marketing executives respond. The results were very interesting.
When directly asked what drives win rate, respondents picked messaging / field communications by a factor of 3 over the next highest selection, sales process (61% vs. 19%). Product training and automation technology were ranked below sales process.
However – and here’s the rub – the investment companies were making in sales conversations was third out of the four categories. Sales process and product training both eclipsed better sales conversation investments.
In the paired comparisons, we saw a similar trend. Without exception, the conversation-related item in the pair was deemed more valuable in winning deals by at least 2X.
A typical pair was sharing market insights (86% felt it was more valuable in winning business) vs. gamification tools (14%). The tightest ranking was between sharing a distinct point of view (68%) and ROI tools (32%).
One of the biggest sales investments had the least value in winning deals – CRM systems. When compared with ‘contrasting a prospects status quo with a change scenario’, it was picked as the more valuable ‘win’ driver only 18% of the time (vs. 82% for the conversational option).
The most extreme ranking was between the value of reps being conversant with the success metrics prospects use to run their own businesses (94%) vs. contract applications (6%).
It appears from this survey that most sales and marketing leaders share the conviction that the conversation is king but prioritizing it has lagged this realization.
One reason for this lag could be that some of the tools now available to work on delivering great sales conversations – like role play automation applications – weren’t in use as these leaders climbed the ranks and so they aren’t as familiar with the option as they are with things like email, contract, ROI, RFP and CRM tools.
As role-play automation applications continue to mature – SharperAx has been at it since 2013 – this results / investment mismatch will begin to rebalance. Scaling conversations that win is a high impact investment and should be on every sales leader’s short list.