Why do sales reps sell a product to a company that is not a good fit for what their product actually does?
I have really started to think about this lately. I really don't understand these kinds of sales reps. I think it might be one of a few different things happening in these scenarios.
1. The sales rep just doesn't care and will sell to anyone and everyone regardless of if that prospect is a good fit for what their product or service actually does.
2. The sales rep doesn't have enough knowledge of what their product or service actually solves for and so they don't know how to really qualify if a prospect is an ideal fit and would also see success with their product.
3. The sales rep does not fully understand the competitive landscape they are dealing with so they cannot fully help the prospect understand if their product or service is actually the best fit for their needs.
In software sales you need to assess 2 things in the sales process:
1. Is this company and person/team who would be using our software a good fit. Do they qualify for your software overall?
2. Will they see success and be able to do what they want to do with your software when they buy it.
With any scenario I think that understanding how to qualify well is the first step in selling a product where you can assess if a prospect is a good fit for your company. You can teach a sales rep how to assess a company's situation to see if they qualify for selling your product to them.
Usually what you do to help a rep understand how to qualify around what your company sells is by giving them checklists, giving them scripts, etc. Giving them resources to help them understand what typically makes a good fit.
That might work well for the sales rep for a while. But, if you want to be an extraordinaire sales rep then you have to know the 3 things I listed above.
Good software sales reps have these 3 qualities.
1. They are naturally a sales person. They have good sales skills in general and it comes easy for them. They just seem to get it...
2. They actually know what the product or service that they are selling does and can assess a situation a prospect is facing to know if what they do will help.
3. They are honest and truthful which takes understanding the competitive landscape. Knowledge of the competitive landscape on top of being a truthful person will help that rep sell qualified deals where the customer will actually be a good fit.
I talk to prospects everyday who are using competitors of ours. They have been sold a software that was supposed to help their company to do something. Yet, what that sales rep sold them does not solve their pain points or goals they had in the sales process. I think this happens specifically in software sales in the marketing space when:
- A prospect doesn't fully understand what they need to do and can't articulate really what they want out of a software platform. Therefore, the sales rep is not sure that they are actually a good fit for their product.
- A sales rep does not care if the company they are working with is a good fit for their product. They just want to close a deal. To be completely honest, if competitors of ours want to sell deals where they know that a company they are working with is not a great fit for their product then by all means keep doing it. Although, if I were working at your company I would sell to companies that were in fact a good fits then you would know they would be successful and stick around. That would only mean that you would get really happy customers instead of customers that are not happy and are not using your product correctly. Those unhappy customers will likely go to the competition when they realize that what your product solves for is not what you told the prospect that it does.
- All of our competitors should know what they do better or differently than say my company does. I have put a lot of time and effort into understanding what a competitor of ours does and why so that I know if we do it too. As a sales rep in the software space you need to know how you are different and how you stack up in certain areas to other tools.
If I could give a sales rep some advice selling in a competitive space I would tell them to do these things:
- Learn what your company really, really does. Learn what your software really helps a company or person to do. Know that in and out. Believe it and feel it. Understanding it is even better. Really understanding how you help a company to do better at something that your product solves for is so important. That will help you qualify a prospect so you and them know they are a good fit and hopefully making a smart investment.
- Understand the overarching vision of your company so that you can speak to that when you are in the sales process. Explain what you do now, what you did 3 years ago, what you will do in 3 years. Help your prospect understand what this relationship will be like now and into the longer term future.
- Know your competition. Know all the different things that your prospect could use or do instead of buying your product. Understand the value and reasons why they could go with someone else and be aware up front of what those things are. Always try to learn things about why companies like certain things about your competitors and what things they don't like about your competitors. That will help you make sure that your prospect is a good fit for your company instead of a competitor. It will also help you have good customers who stick along because they were qualified. If someone is a better fit for your competitor tell the prospect that.
Overall lesson for sales reps in the software space is sell good fits. Know what a good fit is for your product and what makes a good fit for your product. Don't just check boxes off a list to find out if a company is a good fit for your software. Really understand what makes a company successful with your product and know how your product works inside and out. That will help you sell better deals which will help you in competitive selling.