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The last person that your customers want to speak with is one of your salespeople. That's the conclusion of a recent Gartner survey in which salespeople came in last place—after technical and industrial experts, services and support, and senior executives—as "the most influential personal interactions across the entire buying cycle."

What's the Problem?

Some 74% of the executive buyers surveyed by Gartner said that salespeople focus too much on their product, and only 34% felt salespeople did a good job communicating a business value.

Your vice-president of Sales may be aware of this problem, but with the pressure of meeting quarterly targets, vice-presidents could use Marketing's strategic direction to overcome today's most fundamental problem to increasing sales.

For example, SiriusDecisions asked vice-presidents of Sales to name the number-one inhibitor to their reps achieving quota. The answer wasn't a broken sales process, poor of sales skills, or lack of leads. No, the number-one reason is that salespeople don't know how to articulate value.

How Is Marketing Helping Your Reps Better Articulate Value?

According to the Gartner survey, the best way for your reps to articulate value is to share customer stories. Some 70% of these executive buyers, for example, felt that "customer stories and case studies are the best way that providers can communicate differentiation that I trust."

Stories work because they allow your customer to take your product out for a virtual test drive. They also work because they make your product memorable. According to authors Chip and Dan Heath, for example, after a presentation, 63% of the audience remember stories, and only 5% remember statistics.

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image of Michael Harris

Michael Harris is CXO of Insight Demand, a sales-training company that helps sellers take the shortest path to more revenue—through the power of storytelling. He is also author of Insight Selling.

LinkedIn: Michael Harris