How to Have Better Conversations with Buyers

By Lisa Clark

Are your salespeople equipped to meet the challenges of today’s selling environment?

Research shows that only 20 percent of sales reps show up adequately prepared for the type of contextual dialogues that drive prospects’ buying decisions. This means that salespeople today need to add greater value to the sales process than ever before. That starts with an informed conversation. Reps who are able to match the right information to the right customer at the right time will be more likely to have excellent sales conversations that end in higher win rates.

How can you be sure that your salespeople have the information they need? Here’s where we run into a common sales-management problem: most sales-performance metrics (such as quota attainment) are rear view. They give sales managers too little information, too late. At the front end of the sales process, there is no way to actually know what your reps know.

As much as you try to enable reps by giving them all the information they need, they’re only human. In fact, the “forgetting curve” dictates that 80 percent of what sales reps learned at your last sales meeting or training session will be forgotten within days and weeks.

But don’t lose heart. Other research has shown that through a simple process of interval reinforcement and active recall, sales organizations can effectively increase knowledge retention by up to 170 percent and change behaviors to better meet the demands of today’s buyers. Phones and mobile devices are perfect enablers for interval reinforcement and active recall.

Consider the example of one top pharmaceutical company that employs thousands of field-based clinical specialists, medical-science liaisons, and sales staff worldwide. These sales reps must maintain up-to-the-minute knowledge on more than 30 different drugs, in addition to other potential medicines in the pipeline. Moreover, like other industries, their selling environment has undergone rapid changes.

This company started using software from Qstream to push scenario-based, Q&A sales challenges directly to the reps’ smartphones two to three times per week. The company gets to define the important contextual knowledge that reps need. Simple game mechanics and social collaboration, such as leaderboards and team competitions, appeal to the reps’ sense of competition. The results?

  • Salespeople showed greater than 90 percent engagement levels.
  • Sales managers gained early insight into sales readiness, thanks to Qstream’s onboard analytics engine, which compiled real-time insight from thousands of system responses.
  • Sales reps displayed more confidence and reported having more productive, successful conversations with customers.

When it comes to equipping your salespeople with the information they need to close deals, remember that you’re only as effective as your delivery system. By providing salespeople with apps such as Qstream accessible via their smartphones, the power to move the conversation forward is truly in the palms of their hands.