Are we entering a new world where the normal Sales Consulting / Presales process is reversed?
It used to be Discovery, Demonstration, Value now its Value, Demonstration, Discovery.
Bob Riefstahl (the author of 'Demonstrating to Win!') wrote a brilliant blog a few weeks ago called 'Renaissance to Post-Modern Discovery'. Bob talks about how even in large deals, enterprise sales teams are now being denied the chance to do any discovery. You have to turn up, do your presentation, show your highest impact features or services immediately and then, if you've hit the 'right buttons' with the prospect, earn the right to improvise some light discovery.
Bob also talks about how prospects and their consultants are much, much better informed than they used to be.
They have a voracious appetite for any digital content (reviews, videos, opinions) on your solution or service; some of that information your company has published (and therefore marketing has control of), some of it may come from employee advocates through social media, but some of it will be from, hopefully impartial, third-parties.
In many cases, your prospects already know what the value of your solution is (or think they do) even before your first sales contact.
As a colleague said last week, 'prospects are now qualifying you' on how much of your intellectual property and unique selling points your company is willing to digitally publicise and disseminate through the social networks.
Of course, this isn't happening in every deal or industry. For many deals you still get to do discovery, a structured presentation (sprinkling with some value and benefits) and then present a final value proposition. However, at least for Cloud / SaaS solutions, this has rapidly changed.
Reverse Presales needs some new skills
So, as Sales Consultants / Presales, we need to learn some new techniques and take on some new responsibilities. As Bob says, we need improvisation and facilitator skills for the short, precious time we get face-to-face (virtually or in reality) with the prospect. We need to be absolutely confident we have the highest value, most memorable, best rehearsed, 'Wow', highlight of our solution and we need to have existing customers or industry experts / analysts backing us up.
We also need to take more ownership of the solution / service part of our company's marketing output that's being consumed, perhaps anonymously, at the beginning of the sales cycle. As Sales Consultants / Presales we have some unique communication skills that are absolutely critical in this new 'reversed' sales process. But that's the topic of a future blog post.
What do you think? I'd really value your opinion below.