Recently Gerhard Gschwandtner, founder and CEO of Selling Power, gave a presentation for an audience of Ohio-based sales leaders in the technology industry. Here are some of the key facts from his presentation that struck me as particularly interesting.
- 45% of salespeople frequently feel ill-prepared to have an initial conversation with a prospect (Selling Power research)
- Only 13% of customers believe salespeople can demonstrate an understanding of their business challenges and how to solve them (Forrester research)
- 65% of a salesperson’s time is spent not selling (Forrester research)
If these statistics apply to your sales team, then it should send a clear message to product marketing: there is a disconnect between what you are doing and what you should be doing. It is clearly one of the roles of product marketing to ensure that sales is trained and given the tools and information to have a conversation with a buyer and demonstrate how your offerings can address the buyer's business challenges. Marketing should arm salespeople with the tools to develop a business case and talk economics with a buyer.
If sales teams don’t feel prepared, everyone should be concerned -- and that’s not limited to marketing. If 45% of salespeople never feel prepared, then sales management is probably not doing enough as well (which could include coaching and/or training). In addition, salespeople should take personal responsibility for their own performance. If you’re not getting proper support to do your job well, it’s up to you to ask for or find those resources.
I would also argue that it’s the job of both sales and marketing to have an open dialogue about how to help and support each other. According to data from IDC, 40% of marketing assets are never used by sales. Why? The assets are either difficult or impossible to customize, hard to find, or in the wrong format. If you’re in marketing and sales is not using your content, it’s in your best interest to be curious about that and dig for more information.
To win, salespeople need to be able to explain to a prospect they understand his or her business challenges. They also need to be able to prove, in clear financial terms, how they can help solve those business challenges. In most cases, strong assets from product marketing can help bridge that gap.
Does your sales team feel prepared to make sales calls? Do you feel your marketing team adequately supports your sales reps? Share your feedback in the comments section.