How to Help Sales Make the Best Next Move

Earlier in my career, I spent a lot of time on LinkedIn. I found tremendous value in both learning about interesting ways to solve challenges I was facing and also contribute my experience to help others.  Truth be told, I haven’t spent too much time there lately but I aim to change that by picking one question that is posted to a group each week that I can help answer (if you would like me to address your question, just send me a link to the group where it’s posted).

This week, Jason C., an Analyst at Research Partnerships asks:

What is the appropriate level of response my reps should take when they hear hot button topics from prospects on the phone?


Reps should be attentive listeners so they can identify challenges. With elaborate processes and methodologies in place for managing leads how can I help them to determine what to say regarding next steps when the prospect has hit the nail on the head? I don’t want to kill momentum with too much push nor do I want to under serve the customer by simply suggesting a field sales follow up. What is the happy medium to share information and move the lead forward?

I have always found that part of my job in contributing content is to help ‘move the needle’ and that’s why I like this question. Jason is observing his sales force being presented with awesome opportunities to connect what they sell to a problem the client is having. These ‘hot button topics’ as he describes them should be a trigger for a new direction in the conversation.

So how do we help them to do that? And, more importantly, how do we get the buy-in from sales to actively participate and use our suggestions?

I talked earlier this week about putting yourself in your sales rep’s shoes  and believe the value and learnings you can extract from that exercise will help you immensely in building content that your team can use internally to move the needle.

Creating Content to Move the Needle

  1. Gather your entire sales force in a room for a meeting (I would schedule for 1 hour). Set the agenda of the meeting as a brainstorm for gathering the biggest list possible of all the problems your audience has. These may be addressed by your product or services and or not.
  2. Take the list that you built in the meeting and start mapping each item to your product. Hint: a feature in your product could solve more than one problem. Remove or set aside those problems that are listed that you don’t see a common connection.
  3. Run your mapping by the product marketing and/or product manager. Did you map everything correctly? Show them what you put aside and let them know why you didn’t see how your company could help with that particular problem – were you correct or do they see a connection you don’t?
  4. Once you have the feedback, start building a matrix. Write all the problems or ‘hot button topics’ down one column and the ways your company addresses them across the top. In each box, highlight 2-3 talking points/bullets that connects the two.
  5. Invite the sales team back for a meeting to introduce the matrix and explain how each scenario plays out.
  6. Re-visit the exercise in 3-6 months (depending upon what industry you are in and how fast it moves). Are there new problems in the market? What’s no longer relevant and what should be added?

A ‘hot button matrix’ is a really cool sales tool and helps your team to think about what they are selling in a really multi-dimensional way. It’s not hard to do and it’s also a really good exercise for a marketer or business owner to conduct.

How would you answer Jason’s question? Is a ‘hot button matrix’ a good solution?