Sales & Marketing

Has an evolving marketplace required a change in your sales model?

Your marketplace is changing in fundamental ways. Your customer’s business model has changed.  The decision makers have changed.  Not surprisingly, the sales model that you and your competitors have relied on for decades is no longer delivering the results you need.  You aren’t sure that you even need a sales force anymore.  But there are pockets of success in your organization.

What do you do?

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How are you going to help a new generation of sales professionals to succeed?

Dale Olsen’s latest book explores the practices that differentiate today’s top sales professionals. But acquiring knowledge of these breakthrough techniques is just the beginning. How are you going to quickly and effectively build the skills needed to consistently apply these practices? Click to determine whether your organization is ready to embrace this new sales model, and to take advantage of the transformative learning tools that deliver on its promise.

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What do you do when your sales model no longer works?

Your marketplace is changing in fundamental ways. Your customer’s business model has changed.  The decision makers have changed.  Not surprisingly, the sales model that you and your competitors have relied on for decades is no longer delivering the results you need.  You aren’t sure that you even need a sales force anymore.  But there are pockets of success in your organization.

What do you do?

One major pharmaceutical company reached out to Blueline Simulations to help revamp their sales model to better meet evolving market conditions and customer expectations. Building on the company’s market research that showed clearly that most customers still value pharmaceutical sales reps, but don’t value the industry’s standard sales approach, we used our Voice of the Business (VoB) process to identify what was needed in a new sales model.

Using our VoB process, we culled our client’s research for insights, and identified best practices in existing pockets of success. Then, drawing upon our decades of sales training experience, together with our client, we mapped out a new customer-focused sales model, defined the core skills and competencies required to execute the new model, and identified key triggers we could use to engage and inspire the representatives.

Of course, designing a new sales model is only the start. The real key to results is driving adoption in the field. The company had already designated three states to use to test the new customer approach and we helped them create a roll-out strategy for testing the new model. The training design utilized a custom Blueline Blueprint as a central element in a 3-day meeting in which representatives were introduced to the new sales model. We used the Blueprint Learning Visual as a launch point for a broad range of practice and coaching activities led by sales managers – to provide practice, and allow time for concerns and questions to be explored.

The six-month test in the three states proved very successful. Based on learnings from the initial pilot, the sales model was further refined and then rolled out across the US and eventually, with adjustments for local markets, applied across the globe.

Is your market rapidly shifting? Are your customers’ expectations changing significantly? Is your historically successful sales model no longer getting the results you need?

What do you do?  Give Blueline a call and we’ll help you explore possible solutions to get you back on track to the results you are looking for.

Onboarding Sales Professionals with Online Simulation

In a previous blog, I described how we created an award winning onboarding experience for the legendary consulting firm: Booz Allen Hamilton. And in the one prior to that, I outlined our secret recipe. (If you missed that blog you may want to take a look now, because I’m going to showcase new ways to provide context, create a strong first impression, ensure engagement and fun, and reflect the client’s culture.)

Today I’d like to tell you about an ambitious “Level 4” simulation we developed. That is, it uses a gaming engine with rules and probabilities, as well as deeply pathed scenarios that mimic real-life customer interactions.

We built it for a retail client who was looking for an immersive, updatable experience for their Sales Representatives in an accurate store setting. And given the fast-paced nature of this retail space, our team’s goal was to build an experience that could be easily updated.

We developed a solution that uses a “mashup”of several technologies. It’s broken into several components which all work together to speed learner development: the Overview, the Virtual Store and the ASK System.

The Overview of the course is a 3D model of a typical retail store.  It showcases all of the devices that can be found in the stores and provides links with detailed information and videos. Facets of the store, such as the demonstration area, use green screen video of a narrator in front of rendered virtual elements to instruct on its use. Because change is constant in a retail environment, all of the devices can be easily updated or changed, and the information provided in many of the links often points to materials that exist elsewhere to simplify maintenance.

After exploring the Overview, learners are invited to navigate the Virtual Store and interact with customers. They “walk” through the environment by panning with the mouse or using the arrow keys. As they encounter customers in the store, they can click on them to begin a sales interaction. There are dozens of scenarios, each representing a different sales conversation with multiple endpoints. They focus on a range of relevant sales concepts: either a service, a detailed portion of the sales process, or the features and functions of a new product. As they interact with each customer, the learner can experience a range of up to nine animated emotional states.

Learners are evaluated on sales and customer satisfaction. Relative success in one scenario can cause other “virtual” customers in the store to be angry or happy, which affects subsequent interactions. Feedback is typically provided at the end of the interaction.

In the ASK System, we filmed and indexed approximately 100 videos of our client’s associates to support best practices, tips, and advice on selling. The videos serve as a virtual coach and can be accessed at any time via search or in response to frequently asked questions. Using tagging and scoring, the videos (and associated FAQs) intelligently arrange themselves based on rating and “relatedness” to the video that is currently being viewed.

Together, the Overview, the Virtual Store and the ASK System provide new learners with a comprehensive, risk free learning environment in which they can hone their skills. And because the content is kept up to date, learners are encouraged to return often to use it as reference and to learn about new devices and sales techniques as they are introduced.

It’s another great example of how virtual tools are creating incredibly robust learning solutions at a price point that wasn’t possible even five years ago. The world of learning is changing fast. At Blueline Simulations, we’re committed to staying on top of it, and bringing you the very latest and best technologies.

We’ve got a few more learning tricks up our sleeves. We’d love to show you, and then help you imagine the incredible levels of efficiency, engagement, retention and organizational change that are available to organizations like yours.

Challenger Sale: Selling With Insight

I am very proud to say that I was taught SPIN Selling by the pioneer of that method, Neil Rackham himself. That was nearly 25 years ago, and since then I have dedicated my professional life to uncovering my customers’ unique needs and solving challenges for them; and to teaching others to do the same.

So I was, of course, brought up short by a colleague of mine who told me that the future of sales had changed and that I needed to change with it.  She simply said: “you absolutely, positively, must read The Challenger Sale.”

Secretly, I wondered if the train had left the station without me on it. So I dutifully ordered the audio book and while my wife and oldest son slept on our fall trip to drop him off at Wake Forest University, I immersed myself in a new world of selling.

The basic premise of the book for me was simple: “today’s customer values insights and education every bit as much as they value service and your knowledge of their business and its unique needs.”  Said another way, “you don’t have a great value proposition unless you can bring insights and value that they didn’t know they needed to the first conversation.”

Wow!  Talk about a wake up call!  This was completely transformational to me.  And on the way back home, I pondered Blueline’s value proposition and asked myself the question: Does Blueline bring insights and value to its prospective customers?

The answer is yes and no. We do, but we didn’t used to lead with it.  Our focus has always been on asking questions so that we had a clear understanding of need and then formulating an opinion about the best way to solve for that need.  And that’s still a good model.  But today’s customers demand that you prove yourself by bringing insights to them before they will commit the time to help you to understand their challenges.  That’s as true for my customers as it is for yours.

So we set about to rethink our initial interactions with prospective clients.  Today, we start by making the case for using business simulations and the case for engaging their people.  We share insights about the evolving demographics of their workforce and the often-misrepresented role that engagement plays in changing belief systems, retaining knowledge, and transforming skills.  Further, we make the case for a mix of technologies that maximize the impact of a three-pronged learning strategy that includes reference, immersion and community.  And by doing so, we earn the right to explore the unique requirements of our client, and to put forth a recommendation.

Today, we have set our sights on transforming the way we serve up these insights and others via our web site.  I hope that you will return often and explore the fruits of our labors in the coming months.

Meantime, if you are wrestling with how to meaningfully implement the Challenger Sale, the team at Blueline has been there and done that and would be delighted to share our insights with you.