Is a Standard Sales Process For Equipment Makers a Crazy Idea?

Product Marketing

“Every customer is different…”

“It’s not like we have thousands of customers…”

“It’s easier to deal with sales support on an as-needed basis…”

…Or so the rationale goes for not developing a standard sales kit and a process for using it.

It is true that the custom nature and complexity of the capital equipment sale does make creating a standard sales process and toolkit a bit of a challenge. Not having a mass-market-sized prospect list even makes it tempting to think that a standard approach isn’t needed.

However, there are serious consequences of an ad-hoc approach.

Bad Things Can Happen

Capital equipment markets are very competitive, the products are complex, and the buyers are sophisticated. This is not an easy business. Without the right selling tools and process, bad things can happen:

  • Selling price is always going to be an issue. Your ability to keep your margins intact is dependent on your ability to reinforce your unique value at every step in the sales process. You can’t count on an off-the-cuff slide deck developed on the flight between San Francisco and Incheon to get you there.
  • If you haven’t fully locked down your selling specifications and ensured consistency with all your selling materials, you risk over committing. This upsets customers and presents potential revenue recognition issues.
  • Without a thoroughly developed and supported selling process, you’ll default to tactically answering customer information requests and responding to issues established by your competitors. You’ll spend the whole sales cycle “fetching rocks,” instead of getting your value and position established. You’ll be easy pickings for purchasing.
  • Against a competitor who deliberately orchestrates the sales cycle, you will appear amateurish. It would be like showing up for the Super Bowl without practicing and without a playbook. There would be lots of effort and creativity on the field, but no coordinated effort. You’ll end up with only a spin-of-the-roulette-wheel chance of winning.
  • You’ll lose control of your message. You’ll be at the mercy of anyone touching the sale to position the issues however they want. This can no doubt lead to mistakes, retractions, concessions and lost orders.
  • Without materials and a process that others can use, you’ll have to spoon feed each step of each opportunity in your sales funnel. That fundamentally limits the size of your business to the number of opportunities that you can personally touch.

Take Developing Selling Tools and Process Seriously

An on-the-fly tactical approach is highly unlikely to lead to a selling process that has the sophistication needed to consistently win your share of orders at prices that reflect your product’s value. Selling is just like any other business activity. If a consistent process isn’t used, errors are made. When errors are made, it costs your company money.

You need high quality, well thought-out sales tools and a process that will allow you to orchestrate a full sales cycle on your value proposition and competitive advantages. This sales kit and process needs to be:

  1. Built to support your product’s value proposition and positioning at each stage of your sales cycle.
  2. Configurable to the unique requirements of each sales situation and customer.
  3. Tested before it’s released.
  4. Deployed to your selling team with training in its use.

You’d think it pure madness to send a team of field engineers to a customer site to install your equipment without the proper tools and a process for using them. It’s just as crazy to send your selling team into the field ill-equipped and expect them to consistently win orders at the prices you deserve.




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