Darlene Mann, Co-founder, President, and COO at Akoonu, joins me on this episode.
Darlene says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is the complexity of the selling process to create value leading to a sale. The mechanization distracts reps from the heart of selling — understanding and helping buyers.
Is the sales stack too complex? Darlene sees two sides to the issue. They buyer team faces greater complexity in buying, from many competing vendors offering feature-rich services. Personal connection is the key.
The sales stack serves the seller, but where are the tools to serve the buyer’s need for making a good decision quickly? Darlene says Akoonu factors in the buyer and seller, each with their own activities. It helps the seller to understand the buyer.
There may be an opportunity for an entrepreneur to develop tools to engage the seller and buyer systems in collaboration through the buying journey.
Akoonu means ‘content.’ It looks at content the digital marketing world is producing, in an effort to reshape account-based selling for sales organizations. It is suited for complex, long-cycle sales, not for transactional unit sales.
Akoonu collects data from Salesforce, email, calendars, and other sales enablement tools, to construct a buyer’s journey in alignment with your sales process, showing an opportunity map, and suggesting next steps with each contact.
Darlene discusses Akoonu’s ROI. Giving the rep better views of the buyer puts them in a better position to close. Two extra deals a year will pay for Akoonu. Buyer context that persists is being created. Deal reviews are quick and efficient.
Does the stack help sales? Darlene says the marketing side of the stack is essential. The sales side of the stack facilitates account-based selling. Reps are using the CRM mainly to store data, while the stack enables sales efficiency.
Reps are still figuring out how to use the stack to make account-based selling efficient and productive. Darlene explains marketing automation, and leads, vs. opportunities.
Distinguish between tools and best practices. A smart organization aligns marketing and sales, so outreach is researched, and contacts are personalized to specific needs.
Use the technology to help position yourself as buyer-centric. Understand the business and needs, and get feedback to help the buyer make a good decision to buy.
Customers change through the act of selling to them. They become more informed and intelligent about their needs. Be thoughtful, mindful, and deliberate as their ideas about their needs change through greater product knowledge.