Imagine bringing your car to a mechanic who has never actually looked under the hood of a real car. He or she might very well be versed in how the car works from watching videos and reading manuals, and may be able to diagnose your car’s problem and perform necessary repairs. But wouldn’t you feel more confident if you knew your mechanic had hands-on experience?
A key difference between telephone-based B2B prospectors and their field counterparts is that telephone-based reps rarely have the opportunity to visit the prospects they speak with. They don’t get to see, hear and touch the environments where those people live and work. Even if they see product or solution demos during their initial training, they don’t get to see the offering they represent at work in its native environment.
Like the most effective mechanics, the most effective teleprospectors have a deep understanding of their subject. They don’t necessarily know how to design machine tools using computer-aided drafting or conduct supply-chain audits with enterprise resource planning systems. But teleprospectors should know, first-hand, what these tasks look like, and they should hear, directly from users, what the user experience is like. In order to speak effectively with the people who will ultimately select the offering, teleprospectors need a clear understanding of the other key problems, challenges and needs their prospects experience in their jobs.
The best way for a teleprospector to gain these insights is to visit with real customers and prospects. If your teleprospectors have not had a chance to see your solutions in action, you are missing a chance to help them communicate with prospects more effectively. For most teleprospecting organizations, some days are traditionally slower than others (e.g. Friday afternoons). So find a time this month to take your teleprospectors on a client visit during your slow time. Your team will experience a bump in enthusiasm and knowledge, and you’ll get a bump in results.
Here are four tips for making field trips to customer sites an effective training tool for your teleprospectors:
- Collaborate with sales to select the right customer (one that uses the product, likes it and is fairly typical of most customers), and reward that customer for participating (e.g. by buying lunch).
- Prior to the visit, provide teleprospectors with key buyer persona descriptions, use cases and customer stories that are relevant to that customer.
- Brief the teleprospectors on the customer relationship to date and where sales would like the relationship to go.
- Debrief with the team after the visit. Consider the following conversation starters: What surprised you about how the customer uses our solution? Does this customer fit the personas we have developed? How? How is the customer different from others? What problems, concerns or opportunities did the customer voice? Will you sell any differently as a result of this experience?
If it isn’t feasible to get your teleprospectors to a customer site, consider these options:
- Attend/review recordings of customer focus groups.
- Conduct a moderated Q&A session with selected customers.
- Watch recorded presentations from user group sessions.
- Watch training videos that show the solution being used. Turn the technical training narration off, and describe what is happening and how it fits into the typical day of an end user.