Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Day in the Life of a Sales Rep – in the very near future.

By Jonathan Hopkins

A Day in the Life of a Sales Rep – in the very near future.

I won’t bore you with the pre-breakfast routine, my day starts with a damn fine cup of coffee.
As my brain enters something approaching a state of consciousness, I look at my smartphone.
My day is drawn for me on the screen. I have a couple of sales calls on my own this morning and a meeting with a major customer, together with one of our business partners this afternoon.

I glance through the details of the first call,  this is a new prospect.  Fortunately my phone contains a whole range of useful information about the call, and the important thing is that the information is focused on the opportunity.
The marketing team rates the opportunity as a 21 – which means it’s a visit which will be well worth making. As I scan through the detail on this opportunity, I can see why people were excited, it looks like our products have a close match with what the customer says he needs. So I link the zip code from the account into navigation app on the phone, my route is planned and I am good to go.

This is so much easier than in the old days before we got truly mobile, when  I used to feel the need to re-qualify every new appointment that was generated for me.  Now all I do is give the potential customer, a quick call before the meeting just to make sure that there have not been any last minute changes.
I drive to the appointment and I check my phone, my boss has asked me to solidify a couple of aspects of this opportunity, which had been at the back of my mind anyway (well sorta).

The meeting kicks off with a few pleasantries then it’s into the first meeting drill. When we started using the smart Battle card, I was concerned that following it point by point might not feel natural but the customers seem comfortable with it or even like it.  We come across as more professional and the information we generate makes it more useful experience for us and for our customers.

The first thing I am going to do is to check on a couple of gaps we have in our qualification process. I need to find out a little more about who are the relevant stakeholders in this deal, and most importantly how these stakeholders plan to arrive at a decision.

The battle card takes me through this and lets me capture the relevant data through the phone app. This is really cool because now  I will be able to put a tick in the box for the task my boss gave me.
Having completed the Battle card I now have a much better understanding of the customer's requirements.  I am able to let him know with genuine confidence that we have a great solution to meet his current challenges. The information it generates confirms the next stages in our engagement process, and I am able to share them with him.

Leaving the meeting with my app complete, I am happy a good job has been done, a positive working relationship is being developed and we are able to give him value in that meeting. Having closed the app, I can relax, because my paperwork is also done, new contacts are in the system and the probability of the opportunity has been re-evaluated, which will automatically modify my forecasts.

Next stop is with a prospect who we have already had a number of meetings with, and we are progressing the deal nicely. They have asked us to come in to discuss numbers and a potential timescale which is always the kind of conversations you want to be having.

I arrive a few minutes early which gives me some time to look at the dashboard on my app. We are 2/3rd of the way through the month and my numbers are looking OK. I can also see my sales team forecast, and again this is stacking up nicely although a couple of prospects are drifting to the right, I am sure that people are over this.

It’s a great feeling working with a prospect, when you know something positive is going to happen. Everyone is energized and excited, which is just the spirit of this meeting.  I had the pleasure of being introduced to the CFO of the company, and he gave me some important information. His company is in the process of acquiring one of their smaller competitors and we would need to be able to integrate our stuff with their old technology. Could we do this?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a technology sales rep is pretending you know more than you know. It destroys all the credibility you might have. Fortunately for situations like this our very smart product managers have developed battle cards. I dial in the relevant one and start the Q & A. In this case it’s not a simple query, and the battle card directs me to a number to call. I tap on it and in seconds I am talking to a properly clued up project manager, who is looking at our Q & A session.

He is able to give positive news and sends the relevant supporting documentation to my prospect's technical people to explain our solution. The customer is unsurprisingly delighted, we have been able to ease his pain, credibly and directly. We complete our meeting and I have a request from them for a formal quotation to include the new integration work. On my way out I send off a task request to our Product Manager for a price for the additional work so that I can adjust my forecasts.

The afternoon meeting promises to be a good one as well, in this meeting we are working with a partner and one of their customers. This partner likes to involve vendors in his sales from time to time, and here I am going to support him at a commercial level.

Before the meeting with the customer, I can review on my phone all the relevant data and interactions that have taken place between our partner and his customer. I can see that this opportunity has a really good score, so it’s well worth my time to get involved.

In the old days before going to see the customer,  the partner and I would have needed to have a preparatory meeting.  So that I could understand where the customer was and we could agree on a strategy as a consequence. By using the app and talking the same language, I have a clear understanding of where the customer is.  Because the partner understands our sales processes and workflows, he knows what approach I will be taking to bring the customer to a sale.

The meeting went well, the customer thinks the partner is great, the partner knows he is going to get his deal, and I move that little bit nearer commission accelerators.

And now my day is done, my meetings have been completed, the documentation is all put to bed, and I am now free to prepare myself for tomorrow.
Friday no longer has to be a day at the office, I can use the old CRM data time for other things like selling more - or just other things!