How to Create Value for Customers
As customer-facing teams navigate the world of virtual selling, finding and solving for customers’ business outcomes has become even more important—and more difficult.
I recently sat down with Bob Basiliere, VP of Account Management at Allego, to gather his advice for how customer-facing teams can overcome their biggest challenges and use technology to create value for customers.
Bob is a high-tech sales and marketing leader with 25 years of experience leading global organizations. Known for building global teams that overachieve, his expertise includes sales strategy and enablement, business strategy, and execution.
Allego: What are the biggest challenges facing virtual teams today?
Bob Basiliere: “The challenges of teams who are working virtually and are customer facing to any degree are multi-faceted. One is that we’ve been accustomed to working face to face. Not only were face to face interactions richer—a meeting, a sit down, a post meeting lunch or drink—but preparation was allowed during travel or during a waiting period before getting together with someone.
“Today, the lack of face to face has condensed the number of interactions that we have. Over the course of a day there’s very little preparation of the kind that sellers are accustomed to. Because meetings are so tightly scheduled, there’s very little time to waste once the interaction starts.
“That has a different feel and what it’s driving is our sellers have to be much more methodical than they used to be. We used to have sellers who could be effective with multiple approaches and multiple styles. But today the aperture is narrowed to individual meetings over a conference system and once that meeting starts, we’ve got to be on. There’s very little time for in the flow thinking or adjustment.
“We used to have much longer interactions overall. Now because we’re scheduled to half an hour or an hour, at most, we need to be much better prepared. Materials that we’re going to use have to be on hand and easily displayed. And we have to have better agendas and a better plan for those meetings.
“It’s a challenge for all of us, and I can see the challenge in my sellers who have been thrust from one modality to the one we have right now.”
Allego: Why is it more difficult to find and solve for customer business outcomes?
Bob Basiliere: “Many businesses are made up of integrated workflows. As sellers, we often catch ourselves thinking about the capabilities of our platform or of our product or service. Those capabilities are probably narrower than the way the customer thinks about the workflow within their business that drives an outcome.
“For sellers it’s so important that we understand what an outcome is from the perspective of our customer rather than from the perspective of our product or service.
“The other thing is that customers’ businesses are becoming more integrated, either across divisions or across their own selling process that might involve product and marketing, some pre-sales function, a sales function, and a post sales function.
“In the customer’s definitions, the outcome of a successful interaction with their own customers involves all of those people. But if we’re only selling to marketing or to sales or to a consulting team, we’re only touching on a piece of what makes up their outcome.
“So more and more often, we need to consider what’s on the periphery of the person’s responsibilities that we’re selling to. And we need to do enough research to derive an understanding of the customer’s industry and how they go to market—how they do business—to understand their workflow.
“We need to make sure that our product or service is aligning to their workflow, not to a use case, which is narrower. Many use cases make up a workflow in a customer’s business. We need to make sure we understand the difference.”
Allego: What’s the role of technology in the complex sale?
Bob Basiliere: “Tools and technology are a necessary part of a complex integrated sale. What’s the dynamic that drove SalesForce to acquire Slack or that has SAP integrating multiple related business functions into a single workflow within their application?
“It’s not unlike the convergence that we see happening across many technologies, Allego’s technology included. It’s almost impossible today to take a customer a single narrow or siloed solution to a portion of a workflow and be taken seriously. More and more, we have to use integrated capabilities as we research, prepare, engage, propose, and implement for a customer.
“As customers think about their workflows, they want to see solutions that cross business areas and cross disciplines and cross capabilities so that they can make the use of tools and technology simpler for their employees and for their users, and save time, save money, and make things more effective as these workflows touch more and more people across the company.
“We see that dynamic everywhere and we’re building it into the way that we think, the way we develop, and the way we come to market as a company.”
Allego: How do we help sellers drive value for customers?
Bob Basiliere: “Here are some examples of the things that we’re training our sellers at Allego to be good at, and the tools and processes we’re handling to them to make them more effective.
“In the management of existing accounts, it’s very, very important that we drive engagement at multiple levels. We want customers to be engaged with us strategically, and we want them to trust us to cover their company—however many divisions or business areas that involves, we need to map closely to them.
“Then we need to ensure that, to the extent that they are using our product, they’ve adopted it completely and are taking full advantage of it.
“Those disciplines and the specific ability to measure against objectives in strategic alignment coverage and mapping and adoption and usage are things that we can build account planning, account reviews, and even business reviews around.
“Individual coaching sessions that we have with our sellers always involve checkpoints to make sure that, with each of their accounts, they are constantly thinking about each one of those areas of engagement.
“It tends to form a very complete picture of what needs to be done and how to drive more value for the customer. In terms of the sales process, it gives us a very strong foothold on what’s done, where the gaps are, and what needs to happen next.
“That kind of single, simple discipline spread across multiple forms of planning and engagement and review gives us a consistency that our sellers begin to understand, begin to talk about very naturally and, most importantly, begin to think and act that way in all of their day-to-day planning and interactions with customers.”
For more great advice about how to take your sales enablement strategy to the next level, be sure to download a copy of our new eBook, Sales Enablement Evolved.