In Today’s Shifting Market, CSP Sales Strategies Are Critical For Growth
Regardless of your industry, a strong sales team is arguably the most important revenue driver for a company. Many communication service providers (such as VoIP, UCaas, and POTS), traditionally selling through indirect distribution channels, are bringing their CSP sales teams back in-house. While migrating to a direct sales strategy can have a positive impact on operating expenses, it can also pose several challenges.
Companies that DON’T succeed in the Communications market all have one thing in common – their sales teams focus too heavily on products or features and not enough on value. Whether you’re a CLEC, ILEC, POTS, CSP, UCaaS, Fiber, VoIP, or IoT provider, the secret sauce to sales comes down to one thing – identifying value. To make it happen, you’ll need to gather this information from your prospects in a non-confrontational, yet conversational manner. Here’s how to take your CSP sales team to the next level.
Enter The Socratic Method of Selling
The Socratic Method of Selling is simply asking open-ended questions to gather information. It’s beneficial for two reasons – 1) you build trust with your prospect by showing them you’re interested in their business and 2) you present your solution in the most impactful way. The responses from your prospect will help you fill in the gaps in the Value Planner.
You know your services and value propositions better than anyone else – what you don’t necessarily know (at the beginning of a sales cycle) is your prospect’s challenges and concerns. The two tactics aforementioned will help you learn about your prospect and position your service in the best possible way.
Let’s go through a B2B sales strategy example using the Value Planner.
Step 1: What’s the Business Issue?
When uncovering the Business Issue, you should try to determine what the prospect is trying to accomplish or what new initiatives they are pursuing. With this response, you’ll learn why the prospect is evaluating your products or services at this point in time.
Here are some questions you might ask your prospect to bring the Business Issue to light:
- Tell me more about your initiatives this year.
- Would you elaborate on what brought you to contact us?
- Why is this [evaluation] important now?
For example, in our industry, common Business Issues include looking to expand a service area, adding a new offering, or entering into a new market. These initiatives often prompt a Communications or IoT Service Provider to evaluate their current billing processes as they look for new ways to stay lean while growing their organization.
Before any sales demonstration, we like to hop on a 30 minute call (which Rev.io calls a Needs Assessment) to help answer these questions. Once we’ve found the Business Issue, we try to focus on this piece for as long as possible.
Step 2: Identify the Problems and Effects to Showcase Value.
After you’ve uncovered the business issue, dig into the problem(s) surrounding it. Once you’ve identified the problem(s), drill into the specific details as much as possible and quantify the effects.
Some questions you could ask here are:
- Do you have any projections for how [Business Issue] will [grow revenue, save time]?
- What would happen if you had [Business Issue] in place today?
- Is there anything about that process that you think could be improved?
- How much time are you spending on [XYZ problem]?
Where could you spend that time if you didn’t have to do that?
- How many people are managing [XYZ problem] today?
- What’s the average salary you’re paying someone in that department?
For our example, let’s say the business issue is that ABC Company wants to expand their service area. A common problem with this would be a very manual billing process and lack of bandwidth to add new accounts (effect). We’ve found that many Communications billing systems are not set up to scale as companies grow.
Listen closely, because the prospect’s responses point to the effects of their productivity and bottom line. Review the prospect’s responses to Identify Value in the form of Dominant Buying Motives (DBMs). A DBM is any area of special concern or interest to the prospect that can be addressed with your services. DBMs will vary from prospect to prospect.
In the billing industry, BDMs might be:
- Billing accuracy
- Time spent managing billing and customer information
- Tax audit readiness
- Increasing employee productivity
- Providing customers with a better experience
- Managing the collections process
Step 3: Agree on the Need.
This is a crucial step for any B2B sales strategy. Simply telling a prospect that they have a need is not an effective sales technique. You must secure agreement from the prospect A) sees the need and B) understands the value of a solution. Tie down questions are a valuable way to secure agreement from your prospect. They will prompt your prospect to either agree or state an objection. Using tie downs allow the salesperson to achieve small wins leading up to the sale; but be careful not to over-use tie downs – it can annoy your prospect.
Here are some examples of tie downs:
- Wouldn’t you?
- Isn’t it?
- Don’t you?
- Shouldn’t you?
“If I could show you how to [insert solution], that would be of interest [tie down]?”
If you remember in our example above, ABC Company is looking to expand their service area but they’re struggling with a manual billing process. Typically, we find that automating usage rating through Rev.io’s native integration to all the major carriers and switches eliminates manual processes.
Step 4: Learn the Power Players.
Before continuing the sales process, you’ll want to confirm that you’re working with the right people. It is critical for communication service providers to distinguish between the decision makers and influencers contributing to the buying decision. A decision maker is the person that can sign the paperwork for the business, while an influencer can persuade the decision.
Questions to ask to confirm these roles:
- Is there anyone else we should invite to the meeting?
- Are there other stakeholders that will be part of the buying process?
- Will you be signing the paperwork if we come to an agreement?
Step 5: Outline the Solutions and Plan.
Construct an onboarding plan as a reverse timeline based on when the prospect would like to go-live with your services. From there, back up the time to implement and train a new customer; this will be the close date for the sales deal. Once you have that date, outline the sales cycle steps to the beginning of the sale and present this to your prospect. This will help create a sense of urgency.
An example of a question to ask here would be:
- Assuming we’re able to address your needs, when would you like to begin using [your company’s services]?
Ultimately, Rev.io is more than just a technology vendor. We are here to act as your partner in growth. If your goal is growth, contact us to see how we can help you reach your goals.