Every company must offer products or services that satisfy buyers. Today, that imperative involves both traditional and digital relationships. 

Our guest, Tiffani Bova, is VP and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner. where she helps clients develop sales and channel marketing strategies. This is a Lightning Edition, in which we ask Tiffani rapid-fire questions and hear fast answers!

Video Transcript: Lightning Edition: Strategic Selling for Technology Vendors, with Tiffani Bova, Distinguished Analyst, Gartner

Michael:

(00:03) We’re all salespeople. Even if you’re giving your product away for free, you still need users, you need buyers. And so today on episode number 125 of CXOTalk, I am thrilled to be joined by Tiffani Bova, who is a distinguished analyst at Gartner and she is an expert in enterprise selling and she is going to teach us how to sell more.

(00:38) And we’re doing a lightning edition today, which means I’m going to ask Tiffani a series of rapid fire questions and she’s going to give us the answers. Hey Tiffani how are you?

Tiffani:

(00:51) Hello, thanks for having me back again on 125. I feel honored.

Michael:

(00:57) Well I am honored that you’re here and this is exciting. So just to begin give us a little bit of background on you, and you work for Gartner so give us some background about Gartner as well.

Tiffani:

(01:11)Well thank you. I spend 100% of my time looking at how technology providers bring their products to market. How they sell them, how they position them and how they leverage third parties and resellers to really grow and scale their business around the world.

(01:28) It’s an exciting space to be in. there’s so much disruption in the technology space today, so I’m excited to spend some time talking about what I’m passionate about which is sales.

Michael:

(01:39) Fantastic so your focus is helping technology vendors sell more.

Tiffani:

(01:46) Absolutely, I mean you know the net brass tacks of it is us salespeople, I like to call myself a recovering seller as many people have heard me say before. I think that everything is interesting, but if you can’t sell it it doesn’t matter. So it’s the easiest way for me to describe where I spend my time. It’s really on helping companies improve the effectiveness and efficiencies of their sales models and their sales motions.

Michael:

(02:09) Okay, so then let’s begin with the questions. So question number one, how can technology companies drive sales?

Tiffani:

(02:20) I would say that where they have lost their way a little bit is forgetting who the customer is. We first need to start with driving more sales means I need to understand who the buyer is, what their pain points are, and what are the things that will resonate with them from a value proposition perspective, as well as a product perspective.

(02:39) And so I think that if we get back to remembering who the customers are and then re-segmenting the marketplace more intelligently around the new buyer persona’s and sort of there new expectations, I think it would go a long way to at least improve some of the performance declines they’ve had of late.

Michael:

(02:59) You mentioned buyer personas, what are buyer personas?

Tiffani:

(03:03)There’s a hundred different definitions of what they are, but once again speaking as a salesperson, I just want to know who is my target customer. You know, what are they looking for and is it a vertical an industry kind of persona. Is it a region and segment kind of persona, is it a where are they in their buyer journey kind of persona. There’s lots of ways to cut that. It could be how unlikely they are to be an aggressive buyer of technology, or are they more of a mainstream buyer or a laggard buyer.

(03:33)There’s so many ways to build out personas, but I think the first step is determining as any organization, what does your customer look like. Who is it that you’re targeting and if you answer, anybody, everyone, we know that that starts to lose its effectiveness in the field. Especially at what I like to call the moment of truth, which is the sales rep in front of a customer.

(03:56)If it’s just too general the customer is way out of line with what it is that your trying to say because they don’t believe you understand their business. So I would say as a minimum, regardless of how you define persona, let’s make sure you have two, three, four, five targets of kinds of customers you’re going to go after.

(04:15)As you get bigger, that list may get longer, but if you’re smaller have one. You know is it a IT buyer, is it someone who manages servers and storage. Is it the networking manager, is it resourcing and procurement. Is it outside IT, is it marketers or HR or CFO’s. You just have to understand who you’re targeting before you could ever imagine selling them something.

Michael:

(04:39) You mentioned salespeople. What do salespeople need to be effective?

Tiffani:

(04:45)The million dollar question. It’s probably one of the top questions I get. You know as the technology changes is number one, and number two is the buyer’s change as we just talk about on the segmentation. The third thing I’d say is sales has to change and this isn’t just about processes and systems, and compensation plans and how you organize the salesforce.

(05:05) It has a lot to do with the actual human element, the people you’re putting in front of customers. And if you make more decisions to become more verticalized or industry, or you’re going to sell globally, then you want to make sure you’re putting those salespeople in front of those target buyers that actually have an understanding of that particular market.

(05:24) So having generalist salespeople, who have been very successful over decades selling all kinds of technology I’m sure, doesn’t mean that it will resonate with this new customer that’s far more informed and looking for and interested in things that resonate with them.

(05:38)So I’d say having industry expertise, having the right skillset, and then making sure that you give the sellers the right tools to be successful. Because I think there is an overwhelming flood of tools being put in the hands of salespeople, and it’s starting to confuse them on what’s the best way to approach an account.

Michael:

(05:59) Now, what challenges do enterprise vendors face when they’re trying to increase sales?

Tiffani:

(06:06) Well in the tech space I think the biggest issue for tech vendors today is many of them are in their own transition. Some of them are going from being strictly an on premise kind of technology company, to now embracing the cloud more and more, which means they’re moving towards becoming hybrid.

(06:24)And with that comes with all kinds of challenges from a product and R&D, an organization, a cost of goods sold, SG&A, all those things are impacted. And the last mile, I like to say is the sales rep and some have even said the first mile because it’s in the first conversation with the customer. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have the individual sales rep has been privy to all the things happening above them.

(06:51)So I’d say the biggest challenge is as organizations are transitioning themselves, don’t forget about your salesforce. Don’t forget about the people who are in the front line in front of your customers and make sure they are empowered and enabled to be successful with the new kinds of products and services you’re bringing to market.

Michael:

(07:12) How can vendors overcome these challenges?

Tiffani:

(07:16) Well, here’s what I’d say. I’d say the gap between strategy and execution is getting bigger. When you think about all the changes that are happening on the enterprise selling stage, especially for tech providers ultimately it is just moving at a rapid pace. I’d argue that this is probably the most disruptive time we’ve seen in technology in many decades. With that then comes the complexity of making sure the entire organization is well aware of what it is that the company is trying to accomplish.

(07:48) And once again, it’s that moment of truth where the sales rep is in front of the customer, if the sales rep can’t articulate all of the things that the company is trying to accomplish succinctly, then they look like they’re not aligned with not only where they work, but with the customer themselves.

(08:04) So I think as executives that runs sales organizations, you always have to pay attention that just because the strategy of the company makes sense to you, you know four levels down or three levels down, or two levels down, doesn’t mean that sales rep understands. So really tying the strategy to execution becomes even more important.

Michael:

(08:25) Now, you spend a lot of time with channel partners, and so what are the challenges that face channel partners and resellers?

Tiffani:

(08:36)Yeah, so I’d have to say that while I’m a recovering seller at my core, my heart really lies with the indirect channel. I think that they are the unsung heroes of many of the fantastic growth experiences that many tech companies have had.

(08:54) And in some organizations, you can look at the Microsoft’s and SISCO’s of the world where thy have an overwhelmingly percentage of their revenues generated by third parties and I think that people don’t really realize all the things those partners do, from driving demand, to selling, to supporting, to implementing and providing ongoing touch throughout the lifespan of that particular technology deployment happens in the hands of theses third parties. Whether it’s systems integrators, the very large of the large, can be very local value added resellers.

(09:26) But either way, I think when you look back at what enterprise technology companies are trying to accomplish and even very small guys, when they look to scale and they are looking to enter new markets, they want to leverage people who have customer relationships already established. They have industry vertical and geography expertise. And really the fastest way to find that is in partners who already entail those kinds of capabilities already, versus trying to scale it up on your own.So I really believe they’re the unsung heroes of the technology industry and enabling many many providers to have successful growth.

Michael:

(10:04) So for these resellers, these channel partners what do you recommend how they can become more effective sellers.

Tiffani:

(10:14) I think the biggest challenge for these small resellers today, is that for the majority of them are smaller than 25 million. Regardless of where you go in the world, if you’re in North America, or Europe, the Middle East. Even Africa or Latin America, they tend to be smaller than 25 million, which means that they don’t have a whole lot of available assets in cash to transform their business.

(10:40) Second, they already have very small teams. Limited number of both salespeople and engineering, and technical talent and supporting resources. So what ends up happening even though they have absolutely the desire to make the transformation, and follow the journey that many tech companies are on, as well as the journey that the customers are on, they find it really difficult to make those investments in their own business while they simultaneously have to keep paying the bills.

(11:09)So making the transformation, while at the same time hitting revenue numbers, and keeping the lights on is difficult for the largest of organizations. Even our biggest tech companies in the world struggle with that dilemma. And so when you look at someone who is smaller than 25 million, could be three, four, or 5 million turnover, it gets more difficult for them to make those transitions.

(11:30) So I think you know, finding ways to help those guys make investment in continuing to develop their business, and helping them with finance and funding, whether you’re a bank or provider, or distributor you know how can you help these guys continue to be successful I think is key.

Michael:

(11:48) Okay, continuing with our lightning round, let’s talk about relationships. What can technology vendors do to create better relationships with their customers?

Tiffani:

(12:03)Here’s what I’d say, we started talking here at Gartner a few months ago actually and it started probably a few years ago as well, but it’s got much more active of late, is that we believe that customer experience is going to be the new battleground. We really feel that experience that at the time of the customer engages with your brand, experiences your product or your service, what they think of that engagement has long-term implications to you as a company itself.

(12:32)We know that buyers are now reaching out to their trusted network before they ever end up coming to a provider or to a brand. And so within that trusted network, you want a whole lot of really great advocates about your brand. And the way that happens is when those customers actually have fantastic experience with your company, and they become your brand advocates out in the marketplace unbeknown to you. Not something you plan or schedule, it just happens organically.

(13:01) And so I think that when you look at customer experiences in the way that you can absolutely compete, you’ve got some companies that actually compete on the fact that their service is better, or they have fanatical support, or that they are open 24/7 in the native language of a country. Everybody is trying to position themselves as having a better experience, and I think it’s an area where I think the marketing teams, especially in the digital side and sales have to come together to really holistically think about the overall experience a customer will have at every touch with your brand.

Michael:

(13:37) Okay, what is the empowered consumer?

Tiffani:

(13:42)The empowered consumer is all of us! You know, I think that as buyers in our personal life we behave a certain way. We look online for things we want to buy. We ask our friends about what they think. We may go to show rooming and look at a physical store at something that we want to buy, and we might come home and we shop. And that behavior we have in our empowered consumer life is starting to transition and translate itself from B2C over to B2B.

(14:10) And when you think about that behavior in B2B, what’s different for us is the fact that we aren’t used to consumers/customers having this much power during the selling journey. They’re much more informed. They’re much further down that buying process before they ever reach out. So I think the empowered consumer is all of us, that now transfer those kinds of buying experiences and buying triggers, and things that we value in our personal life, transitioning over to what we do in our professional life when we’re consuming from a B2B perspective.

Michael:

(14:46) So, how should technology vendor’s sell in this age of the empowered consumer?

Tiffani:

(14:56) Well at Gartner we started talking about, and I really introduced this a few months back and talking about the fact that we believe that the salesforce of the future is going to be a customer driven sales organization. And what we mean by that is we let the customer begin their journey the way they want to buy, number one.

(15:19) Number two, we receive them in the means or the channel in which they want to engage, so is it online, is it face-to-face, is it an insight salesperson, is it chat, is it video, what is it in the way that they want to engage.

(15:33)And we really uncovered four unique scenarios, or segmentation if you will around how these buyers come to you. The first one is they say, ‘I know what I want, I’m ready to buy’. And that’s kind of obvious, salespeople get out of the way.

(15:49)The second one is, ‘I’m ready to buy, but I want to shop, and while I may be familiar with your brand, I may be an existing customer’. In the first scenario the risk was fairly low. You knew that they were going to buy. In the second one, the risk gets a little higher because they are going to shop for you on price, service, features, and consumption models.

(16:10)Those are the four things that they start to look for, and they may be pricing and shopping you just to get a better price from you. They may be now looking at a different brand, or you don’t have the new consumption model or looking at the customer service. They haven’t had a good customer service experience, so they’re looking to transfer what they have now to a new provider.

(16:30)The third one is, ‘I know I have a problem, but I don’t know how to solve it’. That’s very different than the first two. And so thinking about how are you actually going to engage the customer when they know they have a problem, but they don’t know how to solve it, is not something you can do in a low touch model, which those other two may be easier to do in a digital low touch model.

(16:51)The fourth one is, ‘I’m a customer who doesn’t know I have a problem and so I’m not looking to solve it’. And that is a very different proposition from a salesperson’s perspective. Longer sales cycle, higher risk, they may never buy. It might be a nice to have, not a need to have. And so we try to define it in four easy categories, to really help sales leaders and marketing leaders understand that regardless of the persona, the market, this segment, the industry, the kind of technologies, the complexity, the average selling price etc. try to get to the commonality across all of those different metrics and land on something that is actually digestible for a sales leader with this rapid change that’s happening.

(17:36) So, I think that once you know you have a more empowered buyer, and experience is important in making brand decisions, you have got to land on something that you can action, and I think those four have really resonated in the market today.

Michael: (17:50) Okay, Tiffani Bova, you are on a roll. We are doing a lightning edition with Tiffani, fast questions and fast answers. Is there an optimal sales process?

Tiffani:

(18:07)Is there an optimal sales process? Well, if that was the case, everyone would be hitting their numbers, quarter after quarter, year after year. So I would say, unfortunately no but there is an optimal sales process for your particular company, and so finding that is what’s important. Is it that you are going to do it by market segment, by vertical, by industry, by geo. You’re going to look and the buyer journey and what they are actually accomplishing before they ever reach out to you.

(18:37) But I think there is a more effective way to sell, you just have to uncovered what it is for your product or service and brand and company. And then you also have to be much more optimized around the kind of buyer that you are trying to attract, the kind of customer etc. So I don’t think there’s one answer. I think there is an answer for each individual company.

Michael:

(18:59) Great, what is the seller’s dilemma?

Tiffani:

(19:03) So the seller’s dilemma, I started talking about that a couple of years ago and you know, the innovators dilemma has obviously and the innovators solution has tremendous cachet in the market, so I said you know what, I said once again for technology’s sake is interesting, but if you can’t sell it it kind of doesn’t matter.

(19:19) And so I wanted to say the seller’s dilemma is similar to the innovators dilemma is, while you are getting disrupted in one particular category of product you’re selling today. As a sales rep, how do you prepare your sales force for the next part that is coming out, that at the same time you have to keep hitting your numbers?

(19:40) And so changing tires and a car, going around a track at 60 miles an hour is a greatest way to describe it, seller’s dilemma. Hitting quarterly numbers, maintaining growth, and keeping the lights on while at the same time you’re doing big transformation, re-segmenting your customer base, getting new skills into the salesforce etc. and doing those two things simultaneously. For a quota bearing sales leader is super difficult, because there’ll always default back to, what is it that I have to do this quarter to hit my numbers? And they will leave to the wayside, quarter after quarter, month after month, week after week, day after day, the work they need to do for the future.

Michael:

(20:19) We hear about innovation as some sort of, quite often frankly a jargon filled vague aspiration. But in this case does innovation increase sales?

Tiffani:

(20:35)So innovation I think gives you – well it depends how you define innovation, right. There’s some innovation that is slight feature enhancements, that calls themselves innovative changes in a product portfolio, and then you have others that are really highly innovative. And I think if you’ve got just feature enhancement, feature improvement let’s put that to the side and not count that as innovation at this moment.

(20:59) But when you’re really talking about true innovation in the business, the challenge there is for a sales leader as well as for marketing quite frankly is I cannot look at that new innovative product or service we’re taking to market, with the same lens and the same metrics, and the same sales go to market methods and models that we’ve always used.

(21:21)You really have to be willing to look at it with a fresh eye. If you’re going to launch something that is truly innovative, don’t just repurposed what has always worked and expect it to continue to work. You really need to say, is this moment in time where we can try to innovate on the way we position our brand. The way that we market a message to our customers, the way we up sell and cross sell to existing customers, the way that we organize and sell and reward, and incent our salesforce.

(21:47) I think if you’re truly innovating at the product level, you have to truly think about innovating across the remainder of your organization. If you just do it in isolation, it may in fact for flat. The customer may never understand it’s truly innovative and that would be a shame on all accounts, especially from a product perspective.

Michael:

(22:10) What is the optimal relationship between sales product development and marketing?

Tiffani:

(22:17)So, you know this is a sort of age old question, you know how can sales and marketing get closer. And I think outside of tech you see a lot more synergy between the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Revenue or Chief Sales Officer.

(22:32) It may even be that they have a similar reporting relationship, one may report to the other, they may be peers, they may be on the same team etc. and inside tech that isn’t really the case.

(22:44) Inside tech and marketing is really working hard to transition themselves to being much more valuable beyond ‘delivering leads’. It’s about delivering quality leads and being better at segmentation, and smarter with the customer journey.

(22:58) And where I think it falls apart, and where I think there’s a lot of room for improvement is the handoff between marketing and sales, and the handoff between sales and marketing. That intersection point now can be improved with technology and the usage of technology, and data. But the trick there is, you have to use the data and you have to use the tools. And then you have to be willing to trust what the data tells you.

(23:23) So I think the problem has always been that sales felt marketing wasn’t giving what they needed, and marketing felt sales wasn’t following through on what they were doing. And so the biggest think for me is trusting the process, and making sure that handoff is seamless and valuable on both sides.

Michael:

(23:42) Yesterday I spoke with Larry Augustin, Who is the CEO of SugarCRM, and one of the things that we discussed is the difference between customer engagement and CRM. So I want to ask you that question, what is the difference between customer engagement and CRM?

Tiffani:

(24:01) Well I think customer engagement and customer experience like I said is absolutely the new competitive differentiator. It’s really the new battleground for businesses. I think CRM is one of those tools that can enable both sales and marketing to be smarter about the engagement with their customers.

(24:17) Making sure that you’re capturing if you will, the digital breadcrumbs that happen along the way of the journey that the buyer is on. Taking that information and being smarter about how you sell. Being smarter about the information you put in the hands of a sales rep before they step in front of a customer.

(24:37) And so, I think that the tool sets itself, CRM and others are highly critical to making the customer experience more impactful, right. I think the whole goal is to have brand advocates. You know, one of my friends always says you know, it isn’t always about obtaining customers and attracting customers, it’s about getting advocates. It’s about getting people to love their experience with your products, service, and your brand. And I think if the tools can give that information to be smarter at the moment of truth, when a sales rep is in front of a customer I think it’s fantastic.

(25:11) I’d say this, I’d say, CRM and PRM, so the Partner Relationship Management side of it, and the Customer Relationship Management side of it are critical, but if your sales reps aren’t using it and it isn’t populated with relevant information about the buyer before the sales rep ever picks up the phone, then having CRM for the sake of saying you have it and checking of the box doesn’t do anybody any good.

Michael:

(25:36) Okay, we’ve been talking a lot about customer engagement, and so what are the components of a successful customer engagement strategy?

Tiffani:

(25:45) That the customer is happy! I’d say ultimately right, that you want them, number one to buy something from you. Number two, you want them to tell people that they really enjoyed working with your brand, and your product or service helps then be successful in their business. That they’re willing then to stay with you from a loyalty perspective and the lifetime value of them is very high.

(26:08) So if you think ultimately right, it’s a win-win. If the customer gets what they need in using your technology, your service, your product in order to extend their capabilities with their customers. Because I think technology providers forget sometimes that it’s our job as tech providers to make sure that our customers are successful with their customers. And so the advocacy, the enablement, the great customer experience etc. has to work itself all the way down to your customer’s customer, because if that isn’t working and their using your products and services, and their customers aren’t happy, then in the end everybody loses.

(26:47) So I think the metric of success is a combination of customer satisfaction, lifetime value metrics, your revenue and growth numbers, and really your ability to just continue to add value to your customer’s businesses.

Michael:

(27:03) This is fantastic, we are learning a whole lot from Tiffani Bova of Gartner. Social media, what is the role of social media in customer engagement?

Tiffani:

(27:19) This is a good one, so one of my colleagues Hank Barnes, who you have also done a lightning round with. He does something fantastic, called Friday Fails, and it’s #fridayfails for any of you who want to follow it. He does it on LinkedIn and it’s a great mentoring moment. What we do is between the two of us, we capture our worst social selling experience through the week.

(27:42) As I’m sure you can imagine, I get approached a lot and social selling you know whether it be a cold email, or a tweet or something on LinkedIn, and if I have time sometimes I will reply back to those emails and say you know, before you try to help me with my sales strategy you may want to actually look that I’m probably not the right person to solicit helping me with my sales strategy, right. Which means you didn’t spend 15 seconds on my LinkedIn profile, or you didn’t do any searches on me at all. Once again, going back to you don’t know your customer.

(28:15) And so that failure is really starting to show itself that if you are lazy off-line as a sales rep, you cannot be lazy online because now you have the ability to reach, so many more people so much quicker with such greater scale. That now what happens is I’ve had a bad social selling experience with a particular brand.

(20:38) And let’s hypothetically say I was looking for something. Would I go back to that brand and say you know what, I’m looking for this kind of service, oh I remember this guy reached out to me on LinkedIn and he wasn’t very familiar with me versus he was. If he took the time to do that, what ends up happening I might file that and say, hey if I’m ever looking for a company like that or someone asked me for a reference, you know I might be able to forward this company over to them. And there’s a big difference between Friday Fails, and one that has taken the time.

(29:12) So I would say social selling is another tool in the bag of a sales rep to be used appropriately, at the right time, with the right set of content that you’re going to be delivering. But just sort of mass emailing to a list that puts my first name in a canned email, I mean really, with the amount of data going back to CRM that we all now have about customers that’s really just shameful. To me it’s just laziness on the part of the sales rep.

Michael:

(29:41) So let’s take a step up and let’s talk about these relationships, how can sellers create great durable relationships with prospects and customers?

Tiffani:

(29:55) So I would say this, I would say the only thing a sales rep has the ability to control, and I put unfortunately in brackets, is their behavior in front of a customer. The only thing they can control is how they act, how they engage with, how knowledgeable they are with a customer at that moment of truth when they are sitting in front of them. Everything else above them, what their comp plan is, what their territory is with their geo, what products they sell, who they report to, all of those things are out of their control. That last mile is the only thing they can control, which is the way they behave.

(30:32) So as a sales rep, when I was a (court caring? 30:35) rep, I became a student of my profession. I said you know what, if I’m going to sell into this vertical, I started selling into the legal industry. I had been a paralegal on my summers in college, so I understood the vernacular and I read a lot of technology product news, and I kept up what was happening on law firms, and I became a student of that vertical so that I could intelligently talk about it. But more importantly I at least understood what they were asking me.

(31:00) I remember the first time I was sitting across from a CFO, and he said, well my WIP is and in my head I thought what is WIP. I did not know that we stood for Work In Progress 20 years ago. And so I made a note to myself and you just have to keep honing in your skills. So the only thing, like I said you can control is your behavior, which means if you become a student of the vertical industry, technology, you know read about what’s happening in the market you’re paying attention to keep your top five customers on your (limits? 31:31) so you know what’s happening in their business. I say that that is something that you have to take ownership of as a sales rep, it is that you have to sell smarter and it starts with you.

Michael:

(31:43) What should vendor’s know about the unique requirements of mobile salespeople?

Tiffani:

(31:48) So I think mobile is another usage of social. I think it’s another tool, you know the availability of information and quoting in real time in front of a customer is really fantastic. I mean talk about not having to drive back to the office and sit down with someone, and come up with pricing. You could in some cases in real time give them information and you can find out enormous amounts of information about a customer when you are sitting in front of them.

(32:11) So I think the mobile seller while still is an expensive cost of sales because face-to-face is still always going to be one of the most expensive, is it has to be used appropriately. Maybe it’s a demo. Maybe it is showing them a presentation on the fly. Maybe it’s showing them video instead of just PowerPoint. You could get really creative with the kinds of ways in which you use the mobile device during the selling process.

(32:38) And it also gives you great opportunity to be light on your feet in front of the customer and change up what you thought you may have wanted to do when you walked in the door. So once again, I think tools are effective when used appropriately, and that the sales rep is smart about when and how they use them. Checking it off a box, a tick box for the linear process of selling, because that’s what your CRM system tells you you need to do next, leaves out the most critical part of the equation which is the customer.

(33:10) Let them take you on the journey, guide them where you need to, you know don’t let them make the wrong decisions. You know, this isn’t all about the customer and they’re always right. It’s about the customer and you have to help them make the right decisions, and I think mobile and the tools around mobile are really critical to doing that especially in the face-to-face selling.

Michael:

(33:32) And finally, how can enterprise buyers be good customers, and what’s the value to a buyer of being a good customer?

Tiffani:

(33:43) Yeah, it’s interesting because we are working on some research right now on this topic that I think as a buyer, for any buyers that are listening to this. I think it’s only fair that if you’re going to spend time with a sales rep that you are actually in a position to make the purchase. And you are very clear with that seller about where you are in that journey. If you haven’t gained internal approval, tell them that. If you’ve gained internal approval, but there is some hesitation tell them what the hesitations are.

(34:13) I think all of us are strapped on time and I think that sales reps may misinterpret some signs from buyers that moving the deal forward when in reality that isn’t what’s happening behind the scenes. So I think you know, if a buyer can just be upfront with the seller and say, hey listen, this is where we are and the seller can make the decision either way whether he or she wants to continue spending time there, or not. But at the end of the day, I think if the buyer is internally it more in tuned with that process they have to go through in order to gain approval for that acquisition, or that purchase, its better in the end. Because if you’ve just spun the sales rep on a lot of cycles and it ends up in a no buy, in that particular deal listen, you know that’s just part of being in sales. You just have to do sort of you know, dust yourself off and move on. But it doesn’t mean that later down the line the buyer won’t end up buying.

(35:08) But I think to be a good buyer it is understand what you’re internal process would be. Really communicate that with the sales rep early in the process, because then we can set the proper expectations between the two in that selling and buying exchange.

Michael:

(35:25) Wow, Tiffani you have just gone through a lot of questions.

Tiffani:

(35:30) Yeah in 30 minutes, in prep he says you only have a minute per answer and you know it’s a firestorm and you know get ready and I’m like, okay. I’m ready.

Michael:

(35:40) Hey I wasn’t joking right?

Tiffani:

(35:42) No, it was great. It was great. Thank God for media training.

Michael:

(35:47) Well you are unflappable.

Tiffani:

(35:52) On the subject of sales hopefully.

Michael:

(35:54) Well yeah I think so. So you know the bottom line, just share with us as a kind of summary, what’s the bottom line for vendor’s who want to sell more? Just some it all up for us.

Tiffani:

(36:13) Be smarter sellers. We are much smarter than we think we are. We know what’s happening in a lot of situations with the customer, and so I’d say just sell smarter. And the way to sell smarter is to get more engaged with marketing, use more tools, whether it’s mobile or CRM, or social selling. Do your homework on your own and you know don’t just take what’s giving to you. If you know from like those social selling Friday Fails, don’t send out an email that’s not personalized just because you have to check of a box and send 50. So you know I think in our gut we all know what’s going to resonate with customers, and so I think it’s just doing what’s right at that moment of truth and selling smarter.

Michael:

(36:59) Fantastic, well this closes out our lightning round edition of CXOTalk. Its episode number 125 with Tiffani Bova from Gartner, Tiffani, thank you so much for taking the time today.

Tiffani:

(37:13) Thanks for having me back again. It’s always a pleasure to talk with you Michael. And I missed Vala, so tell Vala that he missed everything that I said about marketing.

Michael:

(37:22) I know Vala where ever you are, I hope you’re having a good time, and on Friday we are going to be joined by Sree Sreenivasan, who is the Chief Digital Officer for the Metropolitan Museum of art in New York City, so that’s Friday. And please sign up for the mailing list and we’ll see everybody soon and Tiffani, thank you again. Bye bye.

 

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