Updated: Feb 6, 2021
A large percentage of your success selling additive manufacturing equipment will be the direct result of how well you collaborate with your technical resources.
When you are in the Connection Phase, your role is to be fully engaged in prospecting activities—relentlessly hunting for new leads. Once you uncover a prospect's timeline, budget, and needs, you have successfully connected with this prospect, and the opportunity advances to 25% in the CRM.
Once you enter the Consulting Phase, a significant amount of the heavy lifting will rest upon your AE's skills and expertise. However, it is still the sales professional’s responsibility to manage and lead this process. Here are some important guidelines you should adhere to during this critical step of the Phase Selling for Additive Manufacturing methodology:
1) Avoid utilizing your AEs to help you to determine a customer's timeline and budget. However, they can make a significant impact when uncovering needs and applications that can improve a business case or ROI, so leverage them wisely!
2) Never ask an AE to engage in a verbal (or email) conversation with a prospect without your direct participation. Also, conduct a pre-sales checklist meeting with your AEs, bringing them up to speed on the particulars of the account before they engage with the potential buyer.
Note: Bringing a member of your sales support team into a conversation “blind” is inconsiderate of everyone’s time, looks unprofessional to the client, and may put a deal in jeopardy. Remember, preparation produces purchase orders!
3) Invite AEs to participate in the Discovery Questions Interview. This takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete and is a requirement before moving to the validation process. Obtaining answers to these questions will strengthen your team’s understanding of the customer’s overall objectives and your win ratio.
4) The sales professional should always schedule and manage each meeting. This holds true, even if you are expecting the meeting to be purely technical in content. I always ask my AEs to refrain from answering a question unless it is specifically directed toward them, or unless I ask them to answer it. This prevents confusion while reconfirming to the customer that I am leading the sales process.
Guidelines: For sales related questions, I answer. For technical-related questions, I ask my AE to reply. For hybrids, we answer it in two-parts (sales and technical).
5) Lastly, there will be times when prospects will request that your team produce parts that are inappropriate for the opportunity provided. I cannot overemphasize the importance of protecting your AEs from customers expecting "multiple" printed samples for a "single-system" opportunity or an “insanity part” to test the boundaries of the technology. These types of requests can create costly bottlenecks that impact the entire sales ecosystem and must be avoided unless they are accompanied with strong justification.
As the leader of the sales process, assume the role of “gatekeeper” for your invaluable AEs—guarding them against unrealistic and low-value requests. As a result, the entire sales process, your quota attainment, and your team cohesion will benefit!
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”
— Henry Ford
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