By Peter Mollins
Today’s buyers are a tougher sale than ever. They are under intense time and budgetary pressure. So, their ability to filter through the constant noise of pitches is severely compromised. The result of too much information is often indecision.
That’s combined with the fact that buyers must convince internal stakeholders that change is good. That can be managed when the buyer has to convince her boss to get budget. But research from CEB shows that more than 6 people on average must give their consent before a purchase can be approved. And that’s a number that keeps rising each year.
That sounds dire. But it’s not. It’s just the reality of today’s seller. The good news is that businesses do want to improve themselves. They do want to create efficiencies and drive more revenue. It’s up to your sellers to help shepherd them from awareness of the possibility to the promised land.
As the number of people involved in a buying decision increases and the number of distractions multiplies, the buying process not only becomes more fraught, it becomes less linear. A buyer may enter and exit the funnel, or leap stages repeatedly.
The buyer’s journey is more complex, so the seller’s job becomes more about guiding the process. Consider that 58% of opportunities die somewhere in the middle of the funnel. They’re not lost to a competitor. They’re lost to status quo.
Sales Enablement Supports Effective Communication
Your buyer is hungry for information that will help them to make a smart change. And the buyer has a full-time job. She’s likely not in the business of buying things. If you’re selling HR software to the CHRO, that’s his job, being a CHRO. Buying things may be part of it, but they don’t always know how to navigate the process and overcome internal hurdles.
That’s why more than half of all buyers consider vendor-sourced information to have had a major influence on their buying decision. When they are trying to build a business case internally, they need information that supports the creation of that case. When they have a product question, they need input from your experts. And when they have competitive concerns, they want fast responses.
So, it becomes very important for sellers to respond effectively and proactively to blunt competitive and status quo issues and propel things forward. Content (including what sellers say to their buyers) plays an instrumental role.
Imagine being able to send the right content predicted to win by sales stage, or competitor, or product being offered, or lead score. Whatever the context is, knowing what materials make the most sense to use. Or being able to quickly bundle content into a personalized information package that can be shared with a prospect following a meeting. This relevant content helps to boost trust and value for the buyer. But what message types should be included in these content pieces and bundles?
Sales Enablement via The Buying Equation
Now, what approaches to content can help move the buyer forward? Consider the status quo from the perspective of the buyer. Certainly, she’d love to get the value that you’re promising. She’d probably love to get the value that all of the sales people that are calling her are promising. But, of course, there’s a balance called the Buying Equation:
Value > Cost + Risk + Effort
Too often sales enablement focuses on the ‘value’ side of the equation. ‘Convince them of the value and they’ll have no choice but to buy!’, said many a trainer. But because the buyer faces internal battles and her own day-job, you have to confront the other side of the equation to truly enable the team.
Enabling the Buyer via the Seller
After attending the CEB and Sales Enablement Society’s recent events, it became very clear that a theme kept repeating itself. We need to enable our sellers to enable our prospects to succeed. That is, we need to equip our sellers with the skills, technology, insights, and resources they need to support (and accelerate) the buyer as they navigate the buying process.
A helpful way to optimize your enablement approach is to return to the buying equation.
- Value: What is the end result of executing this purchase? Why should we change. This is the classic benefit that will come from change. Sellers need to help buyers pitch the notion of change to their internal audiences and make a case for why the future state is so positive. We can’t stop there though. It’s not just about making a value case. The other side of the equation awaits.
- Cost: We all try to diminish the psychological importance of price — ‘get them thinking value!’. But regardless of what you do, there is still a budget that must be balanced. That generally has led to ROI calculators, success stories, and the like. Look to other approaches that you can take to show total cost of ownership or cost versus status quo.
- Risk: Change carries with it risk — both corporate and professional. The question of “what will happen to me and my career if this project fails?” is a scary one. And it’s one that leads to a lot of quiet losses to status quo as the buyer refrains from making a change or proposing something to a superior that may not be receptive.
- Effort: If a new project requires so much effort that I can’t even do my current job, how likely am I to proceed? Shouldn’t a solution be low effort or reduce my effort? Well, it is a balancing act with the amount of value generated. But make sure to help your sellers tell success stories of fast implementation or return on investment.
The buyer’s journey can be a challenge — especially for a professional that doesn’t buy for a living. Look to the Buying Equation to build your mix of sales enablement investments to help your sellers guide that journey.
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