Chief Executive Officer at Hub.Inc, We help sales engineers, presales, solution architects and technical sales pros win more business.
Technology businesses are in constant pursuit of growth, and they regularly examine stages within the sales funnel to see what areas will yield the most growth.
The C-suite and board of directors have access to various tools that allow them to examine sales stages in both top of funnel (TOF), typically owned by marketing, and bottom of funnel (BOF), typically owned by sales. Unfortunately, middle of funnel (MOF) is often poorly tracked because it’s the shared responsibility of sales and technical sales, also known as presales, sales engineering, solution architects and system engineering.
The lack of tooling specifically dedicated to tracking and measuring technical sales’ MOF activities makes it difficult for the C-suite to get a good baseline and figure out how to optimize MOF conversions. While the customer relationship management (CRM) system may act as the source of truth for sales activities, this system is not easily embraced by technical sales to capture all MOF activities to effectively track daily activities. Without this information on hand, it’s hard to determine how to improve MOF conversions.
At the same time, digital selling and buying has accentuated the importance of MOF. In this environment of poor tooling with yet a greater need to capitalize on MOF, technology businesses have to find a solution to improve MOF conversions that will optimize their growth potential.
Let’s first look at some generic MOF stages owned by technical sales to understand their impact on growth.
Middle-Of-Funnel Stages Managed By Technical Sales
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1. Discovery. It’s best for sales to engage technical sales early rather than later in the discovery phase. Adequate assessment can help verify whether the product or solution can meet the prospect’s technical needs. This ensures you focus your efforts only on the opportunities that are the best fit. There’s nothing more frustrating than realizing in the evaluation stage that an opportunity should have been disqualified sooner and recognizing the opportunity cost incurred.
2. Presentation. Accurately conveying product and solution capabilities that can satisfy the prospect’s needs will help to establish your company and team as trusted advisors.
3. Demo. Technical sales’ delivery of live, closing and custom demos allows you to more specifically map prospect use cases to the product and solution you’re selling. You can also identify gaps that may need to be addressed to close the deal.
4. Solution. In some cases, selling multiple products and services is necessary to effectively meet the needs of your prospect. Technical sales plays a critical role in determining that mix of products and services.
5. Evaluation. Technical sales who lead in managing proofs of concept (POC), proof of value (POV), guided trials and workshops will move you one step closer to the technical win. This is typically a prerequisite to negotiating business terms and closing the business.
Any incremental increase in any of these MOF stages can greatly impact top-line growth. Therefore, making the right investments in technical sales can yield those positive results. Let’s look at that next.
Middle-Of-Funnel Areas Of Investment
1. People. Technical sales talent is one of the most precious resources in technology businesses. It is common for these professionals to be in high demand and earn anywhere from $140,000 to $300,000, depending on geography, seniority and industry specialization. This talent pool possesses both sales and technical skills, directly influences quota retirement objectives ranging from $1 million to $10 million or more, and is constantly at risk of being poached by the competition. To minimize employee churn and keep them productive in selling, it’s important to invest in this talent pool, onboard them effectively, enable them, and make sure they’re engaged and satisfied with their work. Additionally, you’ll want to alleviate more mundane CRM and data-entry tasks to reduce their frustration and increase the time technical sales has to sell.
2. Processes. Empower all of your sales engineers to perform like your best sales engineers by socializing best practices. These are often captured in playbooks or templates, which can be prescriptive and actionable. If you invest in ways to define those processes, train your team on processes, and continuously reinforce and improve those processes, you’ll see significant gains in technical sales’ productivity and company revenue.
3. Tools. You can grow your top line by investing in tools, such as a personalized technical sales source of record, that are designed to improve MOF technical sales daily work activities. These tools must be beneficial to both your individual contributors and managers by helping them with their daily tasks. Additionally, these tools should interoperate with current productivity tools, interface with your CRM system, automate data captures of your MOF activities and provide more visibility that is currently unavailable. This broader view of MOF activities should give you new insights to help you improve MOF performance without burdening your individual contributors with more data-entry tasks or your managers with more data-wrangling activities.
In today’s digital selling environment, technology businesses need to optimize their growth engines. An effective way to do that is to focus on MOF conversions and activities performed by technical sales. If you pay particular attention to the stages that technical sales touches and make adequate investments in people, processes and tools, you should see significant MOF performance gains and company growth.
In the age of digital selling, now is the time to improve your MOF performance.