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Getting your briefing program back on track

by Vishal Vibhakar
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One of the most pressing challenges faced by sales professionals is pushing customers along the sales cycle and influencing a purchase decision. It is a well-known fact that customers love to open up about their problems. From a sales perspective, this stands as a great opportunity to empathize with them and help them discover solutions to these problems and reel them into making sales decisions. This is where briefing centers come into play. Briefing centers are an integral part of business design and are a great way to get to know customers, inspire them, and create experiences that shape their understanding of the product.

Briefing centers commonly bring with them a perception that they are facilities that consume great cost and do not have much to offer. But this is far from the reality. Before we step into what needs to be done to reshape this perception, we need to take a look at some of the challenges that hinder the efficient use of briefing centers in the business model. Essentially, there are three main hurdles that stand in the way of briefing programs becoming an integral part of the business process:

Briefing visits are treated as targets: Briefing centers usually fall under the responsibility of the sales team. And the sales team is responsible to fulfill the number of briefing visits set for them as a target. This means that briefing programs need to be treated as massive opportunities to influencing customer buying decisions.

Marketing does not take note: According to a study, marketing does not spend sufficient time learning from customer behavior. When customers participate in briefing programs, they are giving marketing the opportunity to intimately know their problem and help them devise a solution. But unfortunately, in most cases, sales teams are the only ones around to take note.

Briefing programs lack definition: What contributes most to the cost center perception that briefing programs carry with them is the fact that they are not placed properly within the enterprise’s business model. This makes it difficult to see the type of outcomes they are associated with and furthermore, establishing ROI becomes a challenging notion.

With these challenges in mind, here are tips to getting the most out of your briefing center experience.

1. Do your research:

The company’s strategy and priorities need to be clearly defined. Once these are defined, start by doing extensive research on who your competition is, what they are doing, and what sort of results they have achieved. Next, map out the ideal customer persona and plan strategies that cater to these personas. The more you know about the customer and what he/she is thinking, the better they will relate to you. Use icebreakers that encourage personal connections, as well as help you create a better understanding of their responsibilities and goals. This will help you create a relevant conversation when they come in.

2. Define the problem:

Have a deep understanding of the needs and challenges that your customers face. This lets you create crucial observations and give shape to the problems that customers are looking to solve. Successful definition enables accuracy and this is where the solution falls into place.

3. Rehearse:

Every meeting has a goal and similarly, so do briefing visits. While initiating a briefing, emphasize on each participant’s role and revisit which part of the process they will be talking about. If more than one representative is present, ensure that you specify who they will be addressing at the briefing. It is important to note that there are going to be multiple decision makers and stakeholders present at the briefing visit, and therefore, it is important to give every representative sufficient facetime. In order to ace this, you need to ensure that the team handling the briefing rehearses the briefing meeting in advance.

4. Demonstrate what you have to offer:

A briefing is a clear and concise presentation of your brand’s offering and the benefits of using it to specifically solve a problem that your customer may have. You could use case studies as effective proof points to highlight what you have done for customers in the same industry or vertical. Also, do not forget to mention how your product differs from the competition and how it fits into the customer’s strategy.

For a long time, briefing centers have been equipped to capture and provide customers with a glimpse of the culture of the company itself, whilst doubling up as a tool that effectively creates coherence between the sales and marketing functions. Obtaining this intricate balance of planning and functionality is not a simple task, even more so if the enterprise does not have a focused vision of how these centers will pan out in reality.

In order to become successful, every visit has to treated in a unique manner because customers come with their own set of expectations and requirements. With this in mind, briefing centers need to provide an environment that showcases everything the enterprise has to offer. This needs to be done in a customized manner. A committed team is responsible for enticing and engaging customers in a way that allows them to understand how to solve a problem using the product and giving them everything they need to make a calculated buying decision.

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