The New Sales Process & The End of the Test Drive
Sales, at its worst, is exemplified by the stereotypical used car sales process. The high pressure, lack of pricing transparency, the awkward test drive, peering under the hood pretending you know what you’re looking for, and the hand-offs from department to department... it’s a game no one seems to enjoy.
Across industries, the sales process is flipped on its head and is now the buyer process. There’s no greater sign of change than the end of the test drive:
Tesla announced, in pursuit of at $35,000 car, the end of the test drive. Framed as a move consistent with the times, it is recognizing the shift to self-serve e-commerce, and needs the operational savings from reduced brick-and-mortar to create a mass-market product.
This move is consistent with B2B sales, as inbound marketing broadens our reach and breaks down geographic barriers. Customers are already doing their research online. But what sales skills are needed to close the deal?
Skills Needed to Close the Deal
Face to face is always best, but if you’re targeting by vertical instead of geography, it’s not always possible without delaying the sales cycle. Closing high value, complex sales via the web or remotely requires the same factors it always did:
- Speed of response
- Establishing rapport and trust
- Consistently meeting your promises in a timely fashion
- Exploring the problem and creating a compelling approach to solving it
The last point often boils down to giving a great demo. And without the face time, this is a problem we aren’t paying enough attention to.
And Finally, the Demo
A good demo is prospect driven, balanced—not too ‘salesy’—engaging, interactive, and offers unique value. It’s more than just a product description; it’s a way to build trust and share the experience of ownership.
What to avoid:
Dwelling on features that are a given or that don’t matter to your audience. For example, in a software demo, there's no need to spend a full 5 minutes on the virtues of ‘the cloud’. Already a given in this space—moving on!
- Letting technology take you down. Have a plan B for when your video conference tool fails, the prospect isn’t logged in to screen share, etc. These issues may not be 'your fault', but it sure hurts the prospect's impression of you, your product, and your business.
- Being dodgy about pricing. Transparency builds trust. Avoid demonstrations that show customization or add-ons without specifying the additional cost. A base model demo should be impressive and compelling on its own.
What to aim for:
- Setting a specific agenda that matches prospect care-abouts. Ask what they’d like to focus on. Be prepared for a deep dive in the areas that are of top concern to the prospect.
Learn more tips for great meetings on our blog post:
- Being prepared with a low-tech backup plan—even if it’s just reaching them by phone and walking through emailed slides with screenshots. It certainly beats repeating “if you could see my screen …”
- Investing in optimizing the experience. Get a decent video conference setup and tool set. Make eye contact. Be engaging. One tech hardware company spent their money on small video conference rooms with white boards to sketch engineering plans on the fly with customers, as if they were together in person. Consider if AR/VR is a good fit to allow them to interact with the product.
- Practice. Make sure your background isn’t distracting. Ensure your screens are set up and pre-loaded. Make eye contact without side-eye as you use the second monitor. And, just like you’d silence your phone in a live meeting, your IM and email notifications are off and you’re not suddenly sharing personal or confidential information.
- Make it easy to book. Automated booking tools can schedule and remind your prospect, decreasing your no-show and sales operations costs. Test out our automated booking, we would be happy to talk with you further about sale process development.
- Considering the self-service demo as an interim or alternate step—if they’re not ready to commit to a live demo (and you’ll be able to tell by your conversion rates!), offer a self-service demo. It’ll be shorter, video or interactive, and available on their schedule, not yours.
Great demos make all the difference—they color what it’s like to work with your company. Some of the best have thought through ways to increase engagement, with tactics like:
- 360 degree view or VR walkthrough—in an end user environment
- “Day in the life”—use the product as the end user would, chronologically. HubSpot CRM demos start by sending an email to a prospect, as a salesperson would.
- “Magic trick”—Sharpspring emails you 3 playing cards and asks you to select one, to demonstrate their marketing analytics
How do these translate to your product and sales cycle? We’d welcome the chance to offer some ideas.
About Launch Team, Inc.
We are a multi-dimensional, highly focused marketing firm that has helped companies in technical and engineering-driven industries succeed. We've been doing this for over 30 years, increasing and improving our offerings along the way. Our team's backgrounds include optics, chemistry, biology paired with a core business and marketing focus. This allows our team a unique understanding of your business, the decision makers you work with, and the engineers who will evaluate your solution.