In the late-19th and early-20th centuries Dog and Pony Shows were small circuses that traveled mostly to rural areas. Eventually, the expression evolved in the 20th Century as a generic term for a sales process/presentation.
Prior to laptops and PowerPoint presentations, physical slides were used at customer sites. The preparation time and cost was considerable, so the sales team made sure every issue was addressed and handled correctly. Now, the Internet allows us to make remote demos or presentations on the fly almost instantly, but is this development resulting in better sales outcomes?
Recently I observed a sales vice president driving home her message that the customer still merits the full dog and pony show. She was simply emphasizing that, to guarantee success, sales procedures must still be followed meticulously. The cloud may allow a sale to move faster, but it does not invalidate any steps in the process.
Basically, today’s sales process consists of making/handling prospect calls/chats; initial session to qualify the prospect; product introduction and information collection (Q&A); and closing presentation. Some resellers perform all four steps remotely. This method can be very effective but only if the sales process is followed rigorously.
The Internet and websites make step one a lot easier. A prospect can simply call and say: I looked at your site, and you have the solution I need, how much is it? This appears straightforward but only if the solution is quite simple. Many prospects do not fully understand the technologies involved, for example, in a converged messaging solution, nor should they. That is the job of the sales professional. Therefore, you cannot skip or rush through steps two and three. You must fully qualify the opportunity. You have to drill down on the questions and make sure the prospect really understands the solutions being offered. The alternative could result in a sale but with a very unhappy customer and a lot of support calls.
Some customers, particularly those that previously contacted a competitor, will try to rush the process and get impatient during the Q&A. However, from my personal experience, their attitude changes dramatically once you uncover some issues (90 percent of the time) and they realize your competitors did not take the time to ask the right questions.
Max Schroeder is Vice President Emeritus of FaxCore Inc. (www.faxcore.com) and managing director of the DPCF.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi