Role of influencers in the sales process can be categorized from people who understand the solutions and they will influence the decision maker to implement solution / product. Another influencers set would only be act upon if the top management instruct them so and there are people who focuses aspects like brand, sales person, price, legacy etc. to take a decision. The initial mapping of the sales influencers with respect your portfolio is important in any sales process.
I am trying to plot some thoughts on How to utilize the influencers in a more productive manner which can reduce the sales cycle time and results in repeat business
1. Empowering with the solution / product
As sales people we have knowledge on the industry we serve. Any product / solution has minimum 50 features, attributes and benefits to talk about. We will prioritize the critical information and will communicate same message to the influencer and the decision maker. Usually we will be able to render only the important points to the decision maker but each and every product information can be communicated to influencer without fail and the strategic importance of the each can be narrated as he will have enough time to hear this from you compared to the decision maker.
Certain features which were overlooked by the sales would strike him and he will take up those points to the decision maker during their internal decision making meeting. This will also give us an edge against the competition. In short the product / solution, its implications, case studies, awards and other relevant information should be well presented to the influencer as this will helps in positioning yourself better and influencer is loaded with information to act as a positive influencer for your package.
2. Enhancing industry knowledge
Every employee would be curious to know about the major event happening in the competition especially what his counterpart does. This is a very tricky exercise as we are not supposed to reveal about other customers of ours with the outside world. During the first meeting we shall make sure to give the important players that we work alone, but from then try not to mention any competition in the further discussion. When talking about best practices, you can mention the word ‘ industry’.
Updated industry knowledge is the biggest armor any salesperson can use during the sales pitch. Current trends, the forecasted industry shape, updates in the industry review articles are to be shared to the influencers. Hence he will consider you as a knowledge resource center, a strategic position created in his mind about the sales person which is a differentiator compared to your competitors.
Every employee would love to hear ‘good’, communicated to his manager. There are instances like defining the scope, where the inputs given by the influencer can be mentioned during the meeting. While communicating through the mail, mentioning the influencer in the right context will work and influencers should get the feeling that he gets his share of credit.
During the wrapping up of the sales process, which would be signing off presentation or an email, a brief note on the influencer’s contribution on identifying challenges and the solution needs to be stated. This will help him in his KPI’s and also an excellent tool to get into his good book.
Sales people should be essentially the agents of charity. Charity means charity of empowering the customers with the right information and insight over the solution. In our journey for meeting decision makers (DM), gatekeepers are the people who the first contacts are prior reaching DM.
Gatekeepers are mostly viewed as the problem creators in any sales process. Satisfying their egos, convincing them to connect, matching their moods and creating impressions are major issue associated with. Here are four ideas that have helped me to get through many gatekeepers to present my points to decision makers as the first step.
1. Sharing the objective
In most of the cases the sales people approach gatekeepers as a problem child. In fact convincing a gatekeeper to reach the decision maker involves a sales process. One of the strategies which worked with me is to being straight with them introducing who you are, the reason to meet up with the decision maker and briefing about the company. This will help you in positioning with the customer.
“ Its not what you say but How you say it.” An authoritative tone will mostly work with gatekeepers as the tone should reflect such that the person calling has an authority, possessing a passion on the subject and mirroring an image as if he has every right to speak to the decision maker. Elements of the tones like voice projection, pitch, definitive statement and pacing the words will play huge role in converting the gatekeeper to pass the call. Right tone will arose the interest to engage the gatekeeper and they starts listening to you thinking you as a senior person.
3. Conveying the value proposition
It is highly recommended to convey the value proposition along with the objective of the meeting. The value proposition could be the factors like cost saving, reducing the turnaround time, citing an example of how you have helped the competition to gain productivity, saving bottom line, focusing on the value added activities and so on. Many times gatekeeper connects you in this scenario as they would love to see their company thriving in the market and smiling face of their boss. Using of the right adjectives and the management jargon in the communication would support your efforts.
4. Drawing cues
Having set your tone, established your objectives, value proposition in place and the gatekeeper didn’t turn up as you expect. What is the next step?
Cues! Sales person should ensure that he is probing gatekeeper to fetch more information on the decision makers. The questioning techniques has to build in such a way that you are getting the information on the recently implemented solutions and the challenges solved, pitch using references of decision maker from other verticals whom you have already networked with, timing of the office etc.
Cues will helps you with reasons to get back to the person again. Also try making tele calls in the early part of the day or the late part of the work time as this the essential time (where the gatekeepers who would not have joined/ left by that time) to circumvent gatekeepers.
Vision of a SharePoint Implementation Decision maker
“We wanted one work-force platform to pull our global company closer together, enable complex collaboration, automate business processes, provide BI, and facilitate innovation,”
Nancy Blankenship, Vice President of IT at First Data.
Value Proposition to organizations
Organize, Discover, Build & Manage
100 CAN DO’s of Microsoft SharePoint
Automation of the workflow process
Can get your employees on board to discuss their views & valuable feedbacks
Develop your corporate website
Social collaboration through internal site like uploading personal information, news headlines and insights
Setting up the internal communication unit to filter the right information
No need to send large attachments to congest emails as these can be easily downloaded from the site
Different Departments can be engaged in to make sure that the solution is answered to all queries
Custom applications can be created catering specific needs
Departments can have libraries where docs are stored and people can access those information as quickly as possible
Partner extranet, contract management and human resource self-service processes can initiate
Supports manager resource review and product explorer
The solution delivers an IT command center and innovation-management tools
Works as a global-learning university
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Gives access to advanced tools like Microsoft Office PerformancePoint Server 2007, business intelligence software and SQL Server 2008 R2 Reporting Services.
Facilitate complex collaboration
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Shared service application platform
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Role Based Security Rights
Multilingual SharePoint tools
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Single entry point
Connecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM system with SharePoint adds another opportunity to improve company-wide productivity.
Can surface Line-of-Business (LOB) data through SharePoint 2013
Functionality included transformation of records, notifications, approvals and on demand archiving.
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Contract Management Business App is available for SharePoint
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SharePoint dashboards on self-service basis
SharePoint with LOB connection: Provides a positive user experience with reduced amount of data entry, more accurate data results throughout the processes and a faster return on investment (ROI)
SharePoint Designer: A free, client-side customization and configuration tool for SharePoint. With SharePoint Designer, you can create data-rich Web pages, build powerful workflow-enabled solutions, and design the look and feel of your site. The sites you create can range from small project management team sites to dashboard-driven portal solutions for large enterprises.
Office Web apps: Web-based, online, cross-browser compatible versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote. These integrate directly into SharePoint’s document management functionality.
Project Server: An extension to SharePoint providing integration with Microsoft Project and other features such as Enterprise Content Management, business intelligence, enterprise search, personal sites and Newsfeed.
Excel Services: A server technology included in SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2007 that enables users to load, calculate, and display excel 2010 workbooks on SharePoint Server 2010
Team foundation server: A free download of core SharePoint functionality, without all of the Server functionality Microsoft Office Access, Visio, Excel & InfoPath Forms services
Power Pivot: It extends the capabilities of the PivotTable data summarization and cross-tabulation feature with new features such as expanded data capacity, advanced calculations, ability to import data from multiple sources, and the ability to publish the workbooks as interactive web applications.
Performance Point Server – business intelligence software: PerformancePoint Server also provided a planning and budgeting component directly integrated with Excel.
Organization Hierarchy Browser
OS Search integration
Used to provide password-protected, web-facing access to people outside an organization
Information from any part of the organization can be surfaced inside useful contexts, providing information that can improve effectiveness.
A new visualization experience, easy to use dash boarding tool that allows self-service business intelligence.
Business Continuity Services
Helps you to create deskstop databases. Has easy to use tools for quickly creating the browser based database application that help you to run your business.
Enables you to load, display, and interact programmatically with Visio .vsdx, .vsdm files and Visio Web Drawings (.vdw)
Cross Site Publishing
Custom design for internet
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Audit and contol management ( ACM) automates discovery and risk assessment for business critical excel and Access database
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New Navigation Framework
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Developer App Model fully compatible with Office 365
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SharePoint Work Space: A desktop program that you can use to take SharePoint site content offline and collaborate on the content with others while you are disconnected from the network.