Assessment-Based Selling – Better Sales Conversations Produce Better Sales Results

Every system, solution or service purchased by the enterprise that has even a hint of complexity involves a series of conversations with sales reps. These conversations, especially the early conversations, provide valuable insights to the buyer that greatly informs the purchase decision. 

During these conversations, the buyer is quickly trying to determine:

  • Does this rep understand my business & challenges?
  • Does this rep know how to solve my challenges?
  • Can this rep help me?
  • Can I trust this rep?

To be successful in today’s market, sales reps have to consistently add value, starting with the first interaction. According to Salesforce, the #1 reason new sales reps fail is they don’t know how to add value.[1] I completely agree and will add that existing reps, even past top performers, can struggle to add value. How can this be?

Let me explain by summarizing two recent conversations with Fortune 500 executives supporting their sales organizations.

  • “Our sales organization is great at selling our legacy products but doesn’t know how to sell our new HCM solutions. Our reps don’t understand HR.”
  • “Anytime one of our reps hear a buzzword like ‘AI’ from a customer they immediately pull the SME into the conversation. The SME and rep have a lot of bad sales conversations because the rep was not able to qualify the opportunity.”

Both companies are trying to solve a similar problem, but with the dizzying pace that new products and technologies are being introduced, it’s hard for any rep or sales org to keep up.

So how can you enable your sales team to have value-adding conversations at scale?

At 9Lenses, we’ve introduced  Assessment-Based Selling as our solution.

Assessment-Based Selling, a term we’ve coined, involves using interactive assessments in the sales process to gather valuable insights and guide the sales rep through the critical, early conversations. 

Assessment-Based Selling has three (3) core principles:

  1. Provide instant, personalized feedback to clients through assessment results. 
  2. Focus & tailor the conversation based on the results.
  3. Enable the rep to maximize the value provided in the conversation.

1) Provide instant, personalized feedback to clients through assessment results.

The results must be VALUABLE and PERSONALIZED to the buyer and answer questions like a) how am I doing in <insert business area>? b) what do you recommend that I do to improve? c) how do I compare to other clients or others in my industry? This is the most important core principle because this is where the value creation starts for the buyer!

2) Focus & tailor the conversation based on the assessment results.

The assessment results are a roadmap for how the rep should navigate the conversation with the customer, who is looking for insights and tailored recommendations about her or his business challenges. The assessment positions the rep to be the SME and add tremendous value.

3) Enable the rep to maximize the value provided in the conversation.

The assessment must provide support and guidance to the rep to have each specific conversation based on the results. Common sales enablement includes talking points, questions to ask, additional recommendations/solutions, case studies, etc. all based on the customer’s assessment results. It is impossible for reps to know all things about all products, but with the proper support, reps can have successful conversations using the roadmap and support from the assessment.

When organizations implement Assessment-Based Selling they are enabling their sales organizations to have quality sales conversations at scale, framed using an assessment, with a roadmap and support, designed to provide maximum value to the customer.

What are the benefits of Assessment-Based Selling™?

  1. Create more qualified sales opportunities—open discussions with the customer about their challenges and how they can be solved will certainly uncover qualified opportunities!
  2. Accelerated sales cycles— Reps can go further, faster with the assessment. Typical sales interactions involve asking a lot of basic, cumbersome questions to diagnose the pain and figure out if the solution will solve the challenge. The assessment can speed up these conversations and advance the discussion to the heart of the matter.
  3. Higher win rate—Adding value to the customer quickly and educating them about their challenges creates trust. If the customer does buy, there is a high probability that it will be from you.
  4. Onboard new reps fasterThe assessment provides critical structure and support for new reps to confidently navigate conversations and source new opportunities while still learning.
  5. Scale Sales Specialist teams—Enterprise sales organizations need specialists to support reps with deep technical, product, or industry insights. These resources are incredibly limited and must be focused on the best opportunities. Assessments enable reps to have the initial conversations and help specialists identify which opportunities to support.

Where in the sale cycle is Assessment-Based Selling™ effective?

Interactive assessments can be used across the sales cycle, starting with marketing. Assessments are very effective for engaging prospects and creating MQLs that WANT to speak to sales. This approach for marketing is well outlined in this 28-minute webinar and the results are impressive.

Sales teams are able to use assessments at the beginning and middle of opportunities. They can also be used in situations like RFP oral presentations to quickly demonstrate value towards the end of the sales cycle.

What type of organizations should be using Assessment-Based Selling™?

Assessment-Based Selling is effective for any sales & marketing organization selling a complex solution to large and medium companies. The complexity associated with the sales cycle means a lot of customer discovery and solution selling. Assessments are effective in helping reps do both of these while at the same time adding value to the customer.

Does Assessment-Based Selling™ align with marketing methodologies like Account-Based Marketing(ABM) and sales methodologies like The Challenger Sale and Sandler?

Absolutely. Assessment-Based Selling is important to pair with your existing marketing and sales enablement activities. For sales teams, reps are able to execute your sales methodology more consistently & effectively, especially at scale for organizations with lots of reps.


What if we don’t have an assessment?

No problem! Our customers commonly come to us without an existing assessment. Assessments can be created using existing content including whitepapers, blogs, presentations, research studies, etc. The 9Lenses team works with our clients to build strategy and effective sales and marketing assessments using our proven methodology and toolset so we are with you every step of the way! 

Where can I see an example assessment?

We have an assessment called the Marketing Funnel Assessment that scores how well your funnel converts leads into customers. Answer the 15 questions and you will then receive the automated scorecard with recommendations and analysis.