This morning started off with a great line-up of speakers in a special preconference workshop, Building a Winning SMB Sales Organization.
Bob Sanders, president and COO of Axiom Sales Force Development kicked off the presentations with a thought provoking segment tracing the evolution of sales from the “peddler”, through needs-based sales, to the current “Trusted Advisor” approach which has proven important in a dynamic marketplace.
He emphasized the necessity for specific, industry-based questions for each customer – this approach takes the relationship with the SMB to the next level, and creates a successful environment for selling. Asking the advertiser, “What is the negative impact you want to eliminate?” allows the sales rep to get past the question of cost and into the SMBs specific needs and how they can be met.
Mike Centorani, cofounder of Sales Transformation Now, weighed in with a presentation that focused on the difficulty of gaining the attention of today’s overwhelmed and overworked SMB. Centorani has firsthand experience – he’s worked with three YP firms and has gone out on hundreds of sales calls with their teams.
In addition to suggesting something that is in very short supply these days – patience – he reminded the audience that SMBs by nature are: risk takers, tellers vs. askers, and want to get straight to the bottom-line. Usually, sales reps have the same traits!
He suggested learning to speak the language of the client and make it about them. Finding out:
- What they are trying to sell?
- Who is their target audience?
- What do their customers care about when choosing who to do business with?
- And why would the client be the best choice for their customer?
Next Todd Handy, VP at Deseret Digital Media, spoke about the guiding principles that have helped Deseret’s transition and boost revenues:
- Digital Requires Digital – your sales team should mirror your customers
- Leveraging Your Legacy – it’s not about your products, it’s about a solution for the SMB and a different model for sales
- Focusing on the Long Tail – the average SMB is overworked and under-educated when it comes to available media, they need guidance and help understanding the importance of ROI
Paul Plant, principal at Radicle Consulting, rounded out the opening session by taking a slightly different approach, pointing out that we are in a dynamic marketplace requiring a team approach that includes multiple customer touch points and access to media specialists to meet the needs of most SMBs. This creates a more positive experience for the SMB resulting in a stronger relationship with your brand.
Plant has consulted with Trader Media, O₂ and Pages Jaunes – all companies successfully using this approach. He suggested that there are some common themes at these organizations that have enabled them to succeed in a changing marketplace, including:
- Single-minded focus on delivering customer value
- Compensation tied to Customer Satisfaction Index
- Aligned leadership
- Impeccable execution
- Seamless business-wide technology
- Workplace satisfaction
It was a busy morning, but these speakers had a large audience, and provided a good opening to the remainder of the event. There’s still much more to come, so check in here over the next two days to see what’s going on at SMB Digital.