May 2024, Vol 6

Time Investment: 3-5 Minutes


Want Salespeople to Close More Deals? The Power is in the Pivot.

Like it or not, B2B sales are often complex. As the intricacies of a sale increase, salespeople frequently rely on internal subject matter experts (SMEs) to bridge the gap between the buyer’s needs and their solution suite. While leveraging SMEs can make sense for large deals, it’s a strategy with significant limitations. It’s not scalable, and many companies overlook the cost implications of involving SMEs. Analogizing this in a healthcare setting, think about the stark difference in expense between a routine primary care visit and a brief consultation with a specialist.

The sentiment that “salespeople don’t understand our product” is also a common refrain within many organizations. More accurately, this means that salespeople often fail to grasp how their product’s value translates to the buyer. They miss the bigger picture.

These knowledge gaps are critical. Without a thorough understanding of the buyer’s persona and common pain points going into discovery, salespeople may find their role limited to being door openers and conversation starters, keeping things warm until a SME can step in. Does this ring true in your organization? A quick glance at compensation packages usually reveals a leadership expectation that salespeople will carry most of the effort to close deals, yet solo success typically requires a deeper bank of knowledge.

In today’s climate, driving revenue will require salespeople to wade further into their buyer’s world. We can set them up for this with persona-based education and coaching. It’s about becoming conversationally intelligent around what a day-in-the-life of our buyers looks like, where our solution fits into their workflow and so on.

That’s a very different way of selling than merely restating features and benefits or ceding their credibility to a SME anytime the sale gets tough. This approach empowers salespeople to advance their deals more swiftly and efficiently, reducing the hidden costs linked to an inefficient sales process. It will transform our sales teams from mere intermediaries to actual trusted advisors. Are your salespeople ready to adopt the qualities of a SME and become relatable to buyers? 

Free Content: Pivoting the Pitch

This month’s premium resource is a quick guide to help salespeople become comfortable positioning your solutions within a buyer’s flow of work. Engage your internal SMEs to visually document your buyer’s workflow (see example in the guide). Next turn the “Paint-the Picture” portion into a series of practices that will embolden salespeople to contextualize your solution in terms that matter to your buyers. Access here.

Develop Yourself As a Sales Leader

Intro: As sales leaders rise in their career, it becomes quite common to be so strategic that many lose touch with how their buyers think, feel and behave. Yet the best GTM strategies are forged from a deep knowledge of the market, attitudes, appetites, and seismic or subtle shifts.

Actionable Idea: Choose one type of buyer that your company pursues. Create a document called “In Their Own Words.” Over the next month spend 30 minutes each week to interview buyers or internal SMEs, reviewing detailed sales notes, etc. Jot down as many direct quotes as you can to develop an up-to-date persona on that buyer type.

Ask: What stands out from this exercise? Has this experience been refreshing? What assumptions have you been under? Invite a few people on your management team to join you in doing the same thing. Add your insights to theirs for a more complete buyer composite.

A Little Piece of My Mind...

‘May the odds ever be in your favor.’ Famously attributed to The Hunger Games and yet there’s something about it that rings true for professional selling. It’s fascinating when you consider the interplay between buyers and sellers. 

We begin with a company of people who need to sell a solution to another group of people. Both groups are really into their own business. The people doing the selling are often preoccupied with the utility of their offering, driving quota and maybe where President’s club will be this year. Buyers are showing up on the job every day with their own set of responsibilities and anxieties. Neither party has enough time.

Now marketing efforts, word of mouth or pure fate bring these two groups into the sales arena. Soon after some predictable rapport building, the games begin. Sellers have information, but limited context on the buyer’s issues.  Buyers have Google. Sellers have their methodology, cheat sheets and vague recollections of what worked with the last deal they closed.

As sales leaders, our compensation and reputation are based on this buyer-seller collision course working out for the best more often than not. What if we could increase those odds by having our people significantly flex into the lane of their buyers? It starts with curiosity about what their world looks like, speaking their language and contextualizing solutions in their workflow. 

Given how competitive things are and how fast AI is changing the game for everyone, the burden of translating the value of our solutions in terms that matter to our prospective customers is on us. It’s not on the buyer to try and figure out where things fit. 

I am rooting for you!

PS: What’s on your mind? Send me a note at: [email protected] 😁

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