Provocative workshops for SaaS companies: When, why, and how to use them

Editor’s note: Join us for a webinar on running provocative workshops with Winning by Design’s Derek Sather on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 at 2:00 pm ET. Click here to register.

As a sales person, one of the greatest challenges you face is trying to get buyers over the line. Often, the key to doing so is helping them not only understand your technology and the benefits it can bring, but also the potential implications of maintaining the status quo and doing nothing. And while that might be easy enough for technology that’s well established, if your solution is less well understood, or solves a problem most companies don’t even realize they have, it’s a very different story.  

That’s where provocative workshops come in. These highly structured meetings are an opportunity to talk directly with your potential customers at a critical point in the decision-making process. Typically that’s when a prospect is already well into your sales funnel, but needs a nudge to help drive internal consensus and ultimately convert into a paying customer. The idea is to help these companies understand the power of your solution and the value it can bring to their business.

Below is a high-level overview of some of the steps involved in ensuring that these workshops are a success.

Set up the meeting and review the agenda

As part of the process, make sure to review the agenda you’ve created, ask attendees if there’s anything else they hope to get out of the workshop, and get everyone involved in the discussion.

Recap what you’ve already learned through discovery

Next, you want to demonstrate your understanding of the prospective customer’s business and industry. The idea is to quickly make it clear to everyone that you’ve done your homework and are up to speed on their unique situation.

Discuss the client’s current “as is” situation

After that, you’ll want to ask the internal champion to summarize the current situation at the company, i.e., the problem they’re facing, and the impact it’s having on the business. Ask that person to walk everyone through the business process they’re hoping to fix and make sure that you help draw out the bottlenecks and pain points within that process. Your job is to help everyone else in the room make an emotional connection to the pain and impact of the problem.

Reframe the discussion to the new future state you want them to be in

Step four is to give the customer a new way to think about and solve their pain points. The idea here is to paint a picture of what their business process could be if they were to adopt your solution. Here’s where sharing a brief demo could help them visualize how things would work if they adopted your solution.

Share reference stories and use cases

Next, you’ll want to put on your storytelling hat and share some reference stories and use cases. Doing so will help everyone in the room understand how companies just like theirs have already solved similar problems using your solution. Make sure to take care to select a use case that’s going to resonate with this particular customer.

Quantify the impact

At this stage, it’s time to quantify what the impact of the proposed use case might have on the customer’s business. The idea is to show everyone how the new way of doing things will impact their business and, more specifically, their bottom line.

Discuss the customer’s decision process and criteria

Next, ask about decision criteria for a deal, as well as what the various steps are in making a decision and who the key stakeholders are. You want to assess what needs to happen and who needs to be involved to close a deal. And, is there anything you can do right now to help progress things?

Agree on next steps

Finally, you should refer back to the goals you established for the meeting and confirm next steps. In the process, make sure that you addressed everyone’s questions. Once you have, see if the customer is ready to move forward with a proposal. If they are, secure a time to discuss that proposal in person. If they’re not, you may want to schedule a technical scoping session instead to address any objections they may have.

Closing a sale is never easy, especially for SaaS businesses. It takes hard work, patience, and a methodical approach. Provocative workshops can play an important role in that sales methodology. To learn more about how to run one successfully, join us for the full webinar on Wednesday, April 24 at 2:00pm EDT. Click here to register.

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