“An exceptional company is the one that gets all the little details right. And the people out on the front line, they know when things are not going right, and they know when things need to be improved. And if you listen to them, you can soon improve all of those things which turns an average company into an exceptional company.” – Richard Branson
There is something to be said about learning from those on the front line which can pay dividends back to your organization overall.
In the context of a business, those on the front line—being your sales team and representatives, interact and engage with your potential and current customers on a daily basis. They hear “directly from the horse’s mouth” the pain points and sufferings one may be experiencing in their business. That being said, it is advisable for business to use that information to improve how we go to market and reach our customers effectively.
Before we dive into the 5 questions you should ask your sales team to improve marketing’s contribution to sales, I wanted to go over a few basics tips to make your interviewing process a success.
To be a good interviewer you have to be a good listener. It is also important that you understand what your interviewee is talking about so make sure you do any necessary research prior to your scheduled interview.
Ask the right questions and well thought out follow up questions. This blog post will help guide you as you plan your interview.
Lastly, express gratitude. The person you are interviewing is likely volunteering free time out of their day to help you. They may not immediately understand the impact that their participation will bring to the business, but they will eventually see it in the form of higher quality leads contributing to their quota.
Start with the Top Sales Representatives
By starting with your top sales representatives, you are gleaning insights from the most successful people selling your product or service—there may be a lesson or two to learn from them. If you are a global company, ensure you speak with top representatives from all regions and segments.
Conducting the Interview
Start on time. Ask ahead of time if you can record the interview. Make it clear that you will only be using the audio to refer back to in case you aren’t able to capture all of their responses on paper. As an option, you can send your questions ahead of time to the interviewee. This is subjective if you prefer for them to answer on the spot, or to have prepared answers for you in your interview.
Question 1: Can you describe your ideal customer or lead?
By leading with this question, you allow the top sales rep (in their own words) to describe characteristics that describe the type of prospect that is best for the business.
Takeaway: Use this information to build targeting criteria in your marketing campaigns.
Question 2: Can you walk me through your sales process from first-touch to close?
This question can teach you what the typical sales interaction is like for a prospect throughout the buyer’s journey. Be sure to distinguish between the what is ideal and what is average.
You will also learn who else, and at what stage others are involved in the purchasing process.
Takeaway: Create tailored messages to support your sales reps at each stage of the buyer’s journey. Understand when messaging needs to change as additional stakeholders join the sales process.
Question 3: When closing a deal, what are the three best use cases that lead to a win?
If your product or service spans a variety of uses or solves a variety of problems, it is important to understand which ones convert into revenue most often, or lead to the largest deal sizes.
Takeaway: Make sure that you’re targeting keywords related to these top use cases and test advertisment and landing page copy speaking to those specific pain points.
Question 4: What are the three best features or benefits that stand out to a customer when closing a deal?
There may be a particular feature or benefit that your product or service can provide that consistently attracts and closes new customers. Aside from being a marketing insight that can improve your messaging going forward, it is also anecdotal feedback that you can provide back to your product or engineering teams.
Takeaway: Design ads and landing pages promoting these particular features or benefits. Make sure to align targeting to the specific personas for whom these features resonate with.
Question 5: How do you manage seal the deal when you have a prospect who is almost sold but is hesitant?
This question is equally interesting as it is important. If you’re able to understand what makes a customer “take the plunge” or what is an offer they can’t refuse, that can be a particularly powerful marketing insight to attract and retain customers.
Takeaway: This information can be used in retargeting campaigns, exit pop-ups, or as the last email in an autoresponder series.
Here are some additional questions to consider for yourself
- Do the descriptions given to you match your current understanding of Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) or customer personas?
- Does the sales process through the buyer’s journey align with the funnel analysis through your marketing automation and CRM systems?
Bonus Follow-Up Questions
- What are the most common objections you face from prospects?
- What would you like to see improved from the leads you are receiving?
- What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned from a customer or prospect recently?
To conclude, there are many things that you can learn from your sales team that can improve the way you approach the market.
From your marketing copy on landing pages or ads, to tools that allow your sales team to be more effective in their outreach, sharing the success stories from the top sales performers at your company can continue to pay dividends, benefitting your bottom line.