Sales reps normally start their sales discovery process by building rapport, working to make some connection with a decision maker. When the time is right, the salesperson talks about their company in detail. Salespeople are taught to do this to prove they are a safe and trustworthy choice. What follows is a slide with the sales organization’s largest clients, showing that some of the largest companies in the world buy from them. Somehow, this is supposed to help the salesperson be credible. After all, they work for this company that has all those big-name clients.
Once the salesperson has finished, their sales call script has them sharing information about their products and services. With the company and its products well positioned, all the salesperson needs to know from their contact is their customer pain points. The client has a problem, and the salesperson, naturally, has a solution. This entire part of sales discovery amounts to an overly long sales pitch.
What Is a Spiel for Sales?
A spiel is a long or fast speech that is intended to persuade, but is often regarded by the target audience with skepticism or contempt. Most salespeople use what amounts to a spiel at the start of a discovery call. This legacy approach sales spiel doesn't achieve the goal of creating a preference to buy from the company. It also fails to provide the salesperson with credibility. The modern sales approach has removed the sales spiel.
The Company's Credibility
The companies that use the outdated sales model believe the contest is between their company and their competitors. They also believe the contest is between their product and their competitor's offerings. The companies don't believe that the salesperson is a larger variable than the company's history, who buys from them, and their products and services.
While many believe a salesperson gets their credibility from working for such a fine and outstanding company, the reality is very different. The salesperson who isn’t already credible harms their company's chances of winning the client's business. It raises the question:
What kind of organization would send a salesperson who is unable to create value?
The prospective client’s stakeholders are trying to discover how to improve some important result. These people will recognize credibility as soon as the salesperson speaks. The sales spiel and the legacy sales approach have been used long enough. It leads prospective clients to regret agreeing to a meeting within the first couple of minutes.
Why the Sales Spiel Fails
Imagine this scenario: A salesperson takes four people from his team and the CEO to a large opportunity. The client sets aside 90 minutes for the conversation. To be certain he would win, the salesperson built a slide deck with 96 slides. The slides cover every detail of his company, their clients, and their offerings. With the CEO sitting a few seats away, the salesperson bludgeons the buyers with all 96 slides. When he finishes with his spiel, he asks: "Do you have any questions?" The senior leader at the client replies, "Yes, we have a lot of questions, but I am afraid you are out of time.”
In B2B sales, your clients are not so concerned about your company. A small company with credible and experienced salespeople can execute a competitive displacement, stealing a client from a much larger competitor. Salespeople often believe that prospective clients are comparing different companies, a misconception that causes losses like the one in the story. In reality, prospective buyers are trying to assess who understands them, and can a company help them improve their results. They want to buy from people who are a good fit.
What Do Decision-Makers Do?
If you answered that decision-makers make decisions, you are correct! If decision-makers make decisions, what kind of help might they be looking for from a salesperson? Here’s a hint: They don't need a history lesson on your company. If you answered, "They need help making the decisions that will allow them to improve their results," you're on the right track.
Since the 1970s, the discovery call is one where salespeople ask open-ended questions to learn what they need to know to help the client. Most of the time, the focus is on the problem, the pain points, or the gap between the client’s current results and their desired results. Moving into the 21st century, if you don’t already know the problems your clients experience and why, you will struggle to make a great discovery call. If you do not bring this foundational knowledge to your first meeting, you leave the decision maker to discover what they need to know to improve their results.
The Lack of Value-Creation Strategies
In a time when buyers need more help making decisions that move their business forward, salespeople need a set of value-creation strategies. Without the strategies and conversations that create value for the decision-makers, stakeholders, and their sales champion, salespeople will not create a preference to buy from them. Let's be clear here: If the potential client doesn't want to buy from the salesperson, they don't buy from the company.
Value-creation strategies focus on educating the client about their current problems and the root causes of them. This knowledge helps decision-makers decide for their business, which creates a preference to buy from the salesperson. This strategy also allows salespeople to create an environment where the decision-makers can feel comfortable with the salesperson, and have the knowledge to make the best decisions for their business.
Sales continue to evolve to keep pace with the changing needs of buyers. The spiel provides a negative sales experience. Most sales organizations have fallen behind their buyers. There is too little enablement and too much emphasis on more activity. There is no reason to scale up the number of opportunities until your sales force can capitalize on them. Once a prospective client has a poor sales experience, they look for a better salesperson. After suffering through a useless sales spiel, some prospective clients will avoid spending time with the prospective provider, even if they provide a new salesperson who can create value.
The message is that, when all you have is a conversation, you need to ensure it is the one your client needs.