Q: Do salespeople add to the value received by customers?
They do in the enterprise. At least the good ones do.
That’s what a lot of founders miss if they haven’t worked with great mid-market and enterprise sales execs before.
Let’s break sales down into 2 types: transactional and solution sales.
In transactional sales, which are often low-priced solutions … it can be hard to provide a ton of value:
- Absolute cost is fairly low.
- Few, if any, concerns on security, workflow and business process change, etc.
- Prospect can often try and deploy the solution on their own first.
- Questions and issues are important but pretty simple.
- Buyer is often the only decision-maker.
- Buyer might buy many products this year.
- It’s just one tool of many the Buyer uses. Won’t make-or-break their job.
Solutions sales is quite different:
- Absolute cost higher
- Often real work to do a pilot, get product into production. May be significant security, worfklow, business process, and other implications of introducing a new vendor.
- Often hard to really do a bonafide trial on your own. Business process change and data needs too complex. It’s not like trying Canva or the basic version of Slack.
- Multiple stakeholders, each with different needs and goals.
- Buyer may need buy-in from others.
- Often the only significant product that buyer will buy that year
- Success of product roll-out often tied to buyer’s career success.
- And importantly — buyer pays out of their budget, but rarely out of their own pocket.
You can see in a transactional sale, the buyer often just has a few key questions and is ready to move on. Does sales add value? Well, often not so much.
But in a solution sale, a great sales rep is the buyer’s ally — and does a lot of real work for them. The rep helps design the pilot. She makes sure the product is configured properly and deployed properly (often with help from others, but owns getting it done). She does multiple demos to multiple stakeholders, and answers their questions truthfully but also with an eye to supporting the buyer. She marshalls vendor resources to making sure the roll-out goes well.
That’s a lot of help. Especially to a buyer that has a fixed budget, but in the end, isn’t really paying out of their own pocket.
A great solution sales rep makes the prospect’s life a lot easier. Not just before the sale. But after, as well. The whole process, when truly done right in a solution sales process, makes the buyer … a hero.
(note: an updated SaaStr classic answer)