Closing the Gaps: New
Selling Strategies For a New Reality
By Deborah Brown and Nick Papadopoulos
Today's organization is faced with not one, not two, but
three fundamental "gaps" that limit sales, revenue, and the
bottom line. The gaps are: www.skysthelimitcorp.com), a sales and leadership consultancy providing
professional interim Vice-President of Sales & Marketing
management, strategic planning, team assessments executive
coaching and trainings in order to increase revenues, enhance
communications and to motivate teams to step into their
possibilities. "Coach Nick" is also the author of the sales
book "Championship Selling."
• Differences between what
a sales force thinks is keeping its customers up at night and
what really is.
• Gaps within an organization between the
sales and marketing functions.
• "Digital" gaps between an
organization's marketing/communications team that is rushing
pell-mell to engage in a social media dialog while their peers
in customer service are doing everything possible to disengage
from the very same target audience.
How can these gaps
be closed? Sales forces need to think differently and
understand how to uncover the pain, leverage social media, and
incorporate comedy…yes, comedy!
GAP #1: What's
Keeping Customers Up at Night?
get comfortable in how they sell and may not adapt fast enough
to changing business models and dynamic environments. Sales
forces often are used to selling products based on features
and the strength of the company. That strategy almost always
miserably fails. Salespeople need to understand how to uncover
the pain the prospect is feeling so they can provide a
specific solution and sell against that particular pain point.
Salespeople easily can become partners rather than
vendors by changing the dialog from "about me" to "about you."
To do this, salespeople need to ask relevant questions such
• What has changed with your customers during the
recession, and what are your new concerns?
• What specific
challenges are you currently facing and is your business as
efficient as it can be?
• If I can show you a solution that
will help solve your problem, would you be interested in
Asking the right questions helps
strengthen the relationship and trust between the salesperson
and their customers. Additionally, it helps salespeople turn
the price factor into the third or fourth reason a prospect
buys and make other factors such as service, quality, and
value the basis for their decision. Really listening to what a
prospect is saying and listening between the "lines" may
provide rich insight a salesperson can effectively act upon.
Stand-Up and Listen
One of the best
ways to learn how to listen is to do stand-up comedy. For
example, Peppercom's Pain-Based Selling 2.0 program includes a
stand-up comedy module, which teaches salespeople how to bond
with their audience while learning critical listening skills
and watching for important non-verbal cues to enhance
presentation and storytelling skills.
No one loves to
be pitched to, but everyone loves a good story. Understanding
how to tell a compelling story, while also weaving in a
prospect's issues and how your product or service will solve
their problem is significant in a successful sale. Stand-up
comedy is all about storytelling and helps the salesperson
understand how to change the dynamic of a conversation.
Also, remember, customers/prospects tend to select
people with whom they enjoy spending time. So, everything else
being equal, laughter may help land a big
GAP #2: Sales and Marketing Not Aligned
More often than not, sales and marketing teams are not
aligned. This is a significant gap since sales is conveying
one set of messages while marketing is disseminating others.
So how do you align marketing and sales? The CMO and
VP of Sales need to do four things:
• Work together and
meet regularly: This seems so elementary, but it rarely
• Go on sales calls: Marketing folks almost never
do this. How do they know what the salespeople are saying if
they don't tag along? How do they know what is keeping
customers/prospects up at night if they don’t hear it for
• Stay on message: Sales needs to understand
the marketing messages and how best to articulate them.
Receive feedback: A mechanism for feedback from sales to
marketing is critical. If messages aren't resonating, together
they need to determine why. Find out if the message needs to
be tweaked or how the sales team is articulating the message.
GAP #3: Social Media Divide
found that 70 percent of all new business comes after the
fifth touch—which increases dramatically after the seventh
touch. Furthermore, we found that each of these touches needs
to be different to stand out and add value.
news is that there are several tools salespeople can use to
stay on their prospects' radar. Social media should play a
huge role in this. The key is to leverage these tools in a
professional manner in a way that works to the salesperson's
advantage. It’s easy to do and an excellent way to communicate
and demonstrate thought leadership. Social media contains many
different components, which allow prospects and customers to
become part of a community. When a company effectively
connects prospects and customers into their community, they
are seen as a partner rather than a commodity.
example, salespeople can encourage prospects and customers to
sign up to their company's Twitter account. This will keep
them informed of new announcements and allow them to comment
or ask questions. Creating a community or group on LinkedIn or
a Facebook page strictly for professional purposes are also
effective ways to engage prospects and customers. By
consistently engaging customers and prospects, salespeople can
increase their touch points to improve relationships and gain
a better understanding of customer needs. The more you're able
to engage and understand your audience, the better chance you
have at closing a deal or upselling current customers.
more value you provide to your contacts, the more you'll stand
out from the rest of the competition. When they are ready to
"buy," they'll be calling you for their next order because you
understand their key pain points, are able to engage them in a
fun and knowledgeable manner, and know how to reach and react
to them quickly. Demonstrate to your customers that you are
reliable, innovative, and ahead of your competition, and, in
turn, they'll trust you with their business.
Nicholaos "Coach Nick" Papadopoulos is the founder
of Sky's The Limit Corporation (
Deborah Brown is partner
and managing director of strategic development for Peppercom.
In this role, she manages a number of accounts including
Nikon, Whirlpool Corporation and Ricoh Americas Corporation.
With more than 20 years' experience, Brown also works on
various management initiatives including new business, crisis
management, media training, and pain-based selling and
lectures on public relations at the Fashion Institute of
Technology in Manhattan.