If you sell into complex decision making environments, you ask customers to make IoT (Internet of Things) buying decisions these days. You need an IoT sales strategy.
How comfortable are you incorporating insights from big data in your sales processes?
- If your sales organization uses infographics provided by the marketing department, do you understand how data was analyzed to arrive at those conclusions?
- Are you prepared to interpret these insights for your prospective and existing customers?
- Is your sales process data- and insight-driven to answer questions from skeptical decision makers who themselves are experiencing difficulties deploying data-driven insights within their own organizations?
Consider that your prospective clients’ organizations may not have IoT-savvy cultures. Customers are counting on you to translate the relevance and value of your information. Are you ready?
Understand your customers’ “IoT So What?”
The veritable tsunami of data from sensor-enabled “things” generates just that: a big wave of “So What?” Data requires analyses to become information. Analysis of information without establishing criteria and parameters for interpretation is just that: a big bunch of “So What?” analyses.
What are your customers’ reasons for buying from you? Establish and thoroughly understand the context of their “So What?” Partner with them. Help them make IoT buying decisions.
Forrester reports 74% of firms say they want to be “data-driven,” but only 29% are actually successful at connecting analytics to action. Actionable insights appear to be the missing link for companies that want to drive business outcomes from their data.
And that is the crux of the matter, IoT environment or not.
Are you throwing around buzz words like “big data” and “actionable insights” in your sales spiel? Chances are, customers are not impressed. You sound like every other sales person trying to be IoT-relevant.
You want customers to make IoT buying decisions based on how your data meshes with their data. That is your missing link. Customers require your insights.
Is your sales culture interoperable for complex selling into IoT environments?
Your goal? Move beyond “So What?” Arrive at “Aha!”
Leveraging that strategy requires interoperability between people, processes, software and machines. Executing that strategy means morphing your sales technique from where it is today. Determine how big data is being utilized in your customer’s organizations. Then align your data, information and insights accordingly.
Interoperability is a characteristic of a product or system, whose interfaces are completely understood, to work with other products or systems, present or future, in either implementation or access, without any restrictions.
Machine-software interfaces allow equipment to “talk” to each other and become compatible with each other. How many organizational and sales cultures can say the equivalent about how well their people communicate across professional disciplines?
Learning how to help customers make IoT buying decisions tests the existing cultural climate of organizations. In addition, C-Suite strategy and decision-making is tested. Does the team have a history of dysfunction or harmony? Finally, how well do operations teams communicate and collaborate with colleagues in IT and customer-facing business units?
IoT decisions require collaboration to achieve insights.
In a Teradata-sponsored Forbes Insight Study respondents acknowledged that data- and insight-driven organizations will provide a competitive advantage. However, implementing a data- and insight-driven strategy is easier said than done.
There’s a corporate culture clash going on. Key findings from this study (p12) include:
- 51% of respondents cite adapting and refining a data-driven strategy as a key cultural challenge;
- 47% of respondents cite an inability to improve the customer experience by leveraging and listening to the data (47%); and
- 43% of respondents say fostering a culture that rewards the use of data is a significant challenge.
When you present data as part of your sales call, you assume prospective customers enjoy healthy, collaborative, data-driven organizational cultures. However, it is safer to assume that they don’t collaborate very well across corporate silos and professional mindset.
Become translational instead of transactional.
Stop focusing on transacting business with customers. Instead, learn how to translate the IoT business value of your offering for customers. If you are unsure how to do this, consult with the data scientists in your organization. They have a lot of cool stuff to teach you.
Make sure you understand where the data in your presentations “comes from” before you make that presentation. Be prepared to field questions about your presentation and your data. Make sure you ask as many questions as you answer.
Determine the customer’s context. Leverage your own data-driven insights. Provide customers with some IoT “Ahas!” and a solid reason for doing business with you.
Babette Ten Haken is a management consultant, strategist, speaker and coach focused on customer success for customer retention in the industrial Internet of Things ecosystem. She traverses the interface between human capital strategy for hiring, developing and implementing teams of collaborative technical, engineering, sales and business professionals.
She serves manufacturing- and engineering- intensive companies, catalyzing teams to create enduring business outcomes. Babette’s playbook of technical / non-technical collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon. Visit the Free Resources section of her website for more tools.
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