For a new SaaS business, customer acquisition is priority #1. However, it’s also challenge #1, and gaining those first real customers may be one the most difficult challenges your company will ever face. Depending on the size of your niche, the greater market’s need for your service/product and the quality of your marketing strategy as a whole – grabbing those first customers can feel impossible. Making this even more daunting is the fact that in the early days of your business, its unlikely that these customers will seek you out on their own or find themselves beating down your door.
Last week, we attended a fantastic webinar hosted by Espresso Capital which discussed the power of provocative sales workshops. Presented by Winning By Design‘s Derek Sather, this hour-long webinar took a deep dive into what exactly these workshops are, and when, why and how to use them to reach prospects that may never come to you on their own.
This presentation really dug into some new territory for us, and was quite thought-provoking and educational.
Here are 5 lessons we learned from this fantastic webinar!
1. A provocative sales motion is selling against the status quo.
A poll taken at the start of the webinar showed that out of the 30 well-educated attendees, not a single one was familiar with term “provocative sales motion”. This was unsurprising to me, as I found this term unfamiliar as well. Sather does a great job of demystifying this concept quickly though, and explains that this really isn’t a new concept at all.
When breaking it down, it helps to understand that Sather has based the term Provocative Sales around the concept of what he calls “the provoke”, which is a unique type of outreach he uses to open the doorway to hosting workshops catered to the needs of potential prospects. The workshops are intended to expose the problems within a prospect’s company that they themselves are likely unaware of, and therefore unsure how to fix.
The idea here is to disrupt a company’s day-to-day automatic (somewhat mindless) processes which may be leading them down a pathway to inefficiency, disfunction or destruction. Sather calls this “disrupting the status quo”, and explains that there is a world of potential clients out there who are separated from you by a sea of their own unawareness. Provocative sales tactics are one simple and effective way of building a bridge to those clients, and spanning the gap to meet them right where they are.
2. The most successful sales teams are well-versed.
Sather discusses 4 common types of sales maneuvers, and how your prospect’s location within the sales funnel must dictate the sales motions used in your team’s capture plan. Sales teams must be fluent in each.
- Transactional Sales: This applies to scenarios where the prospect knows they have a problem, and they also know what the solution is. It’s transactional in the sense that they know what they want, and they come to you because they need it now and know that you can deliver it. It’s quick, it’s easy and it really doesn’t require much strategy from the sales rep involved.
- Solution Sales: Similar to Transactional sales, in this scenario the prospect knows they have a problem and they know what the solution is. Where this sales motion differs is in how the prospect approaches your company. They’re most likely interviewing you – and companies like you – to determine who is best suited to solve the issue for them. In this type of sale, you must have a powerful pitch prepared in order to motivate the prospect to choose you. You must be able to address their concerns and make it clear that you are able to provide the solution they are seeking in exactly the way they want it.
- Consultative Sales: In this case, the prospect knows they have a problem, but they have no idea how to solve it. This scenario is an occasion where question-based selling is necessary, and preferred. When performing a consultative sales motion, you’ll need to meet with your prospect and go through a step-by-step process of troubleshooting and uncovering the underlying causes of their problems. Question-based skills are a must here, as are problem-solving skills and a certain degree of innovation.
- Provocative Sales: As mentioned above, prospects in this scenario are completely unaware that they have a problem, and as a result – have no idea how to solve it. This could also be called a “pre-funnel” sales maneuver, as the prospect is still completely unaware of the dangers their company may be facing, and are not even looking for the help you’re offering.
3. Lose the question mark.
Sather opened the webinar by pointing out the difference that simple punctuation can make when pitching a potential client. While many companies often begin a pitch inquisitively, hoping to locate a crack in the prospect’s armor – Sather believes that (outside of the consultative sales context mentioned above) this lack of prior-research reveals a lack of personalized understanding of your prospect’s operational needs. He strongly advocates attendees to do their due diligence when preparing for a pitch and urges them to put in the extra effort to perfect this process. In-depth research into your prospect’s history, achievements, failures and daily operations will allow you to analyze where they’re going wrong in their current day-to-day operations, and allow you to explain how you can help them most.
This approach will also make you appear more knowledgeable, organized and qualified. As an example, think about the difference between the question “what’s keeping you up at night?” and the statement “here are some things in your business that should be keeping you up at night”. The difference between these two approaches might just be the difference between closing the deal and not closing it.
4. Sometimes companies just need a mirror.
More times than not, the failures within a company are not the product of poor-management alone. Rather, problems often begin as something small, originating from a low-level issue that is either not prioritized or is overlooked altogether. In the early stages of a company, there may be no one in charge of these particular issues, or the person in charge of them is not being closely monitored, thoroughly onboarded, or something similar. As we’ve discussed in the past, everything in the subscription industry compounds over time, and as these things compound – the things that were once “minor” low-level issues become something bigger and begin to cause major high-level issues. Many company leaders are simply unaware of what they’re doing wrong, either due to lack of experience or because these issues are simply out of sight. Sometimes it’s as simple as just needing a pair of fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.
What companies in this position need most is a mirror. They need someone to come in and show them their own reflection, offering an objective perspective on tired, overlooked or seemingly invisible issues. There’s no better way to do this than through the power of the workshops Sather discusses in this presentation. But how do we get prospects to agree to these workshops? According to Sather, this is where the power of the provocative sales motion really proves itself.
5. De-risk everything.
One very important aspect of this presentation is left as a bit of an underlying subtext. Sather addresses it briefly, but I felt it was one of the more powerful takeaways from the whole thing and wanted to stress the importance of it to our readers. Simply put, it must be understood that in order to take your prospects from the top of the waterfall to the bottom of the waterfall, there is one very important step that we cannot overlook. Whether you’re using provocative sales to raise awareness at the initial point of contact and close the sale there, or use this tactic to open a wider doorway to one of the workshops mentioned throughout – nothing can proceed until you gain approval from the general consensus. This means that you must have a customer-friendly pitch, a customer-friendly approach, a customer-centric team behind you with a clearly defined set of customer-centric values. And finally, you must convey all of this quickly, clearly and as concise as possible.
Gaining approval from the consensus requires de-risking everything. You must address the prospect’s needs, their smallest concerns and their biggest fears. You have to reduce or completely obliterate any sense of risk they may encounter as they move forward with you. Meet them where they are and go on the customer journey with them. Because if they feel they are at risk, your pitch won’t get off the ground and it certainly won’t push you across the finish line.
What are some of your takeaways?
Did you attend this webinar? Let us know if you have any takeaways of your own, or if you have any questions or comments about the ones we listed above.
Thanks for reading!