December 19 by Julio Mendez
A tempest is brewing, as the seascape of B2B churns and shifts in the wind; new startups, niche competitors and disruption abound. Your buyers are more calculated and empowered with information than ever, and so seems your competition. With each demo, demand gets higher for impactful presentations, against often amorphous expectations. That quota killing pitch deck that worked back when, isn’t getting things off the ground like it used to. Buyers want fresh. They want targeted. They want interactive. As sales leaders, how do we deliver? What can we set our sights on to adapt and thrive in these competitive conditions? How can we navigate the seas of change to victory for ourselves and the organizations that depend on our deliverables?
Thankfully enough, our prospects are speaking and have shared some definitive feedback. There is hope in chartering courses to victory in the rapidly evolving world of B2B sales! In the forward-looking white paper on “Evolved Selling” for B2B, Forrester compiled some illuminating information on buyer preferences in the digital age. Information that can be leveraged to navigate the choppy waters of change as we plot a course to the “chosen” columns of our buyer evaluations.
Our True North in Competitive Selling
According to the Forrester survey, modern B2B buyers value measurably impactful, data driven insights. Insights that expand their knowledge and speak directly to their concerns and agendas. Delivering to those preferences, we would well position ourselves to create an exceptional sales experience. The study further highlights how additional selling opportunities tend to follow those prospect-oriented wins. A “True North” for future success.
So, if the preferences above can guide our path through the turbulent weather; how do we address those desires to the abundant opportunities that follow?
Align to Prospects for Smoother Sailing
As we tack to our buyers’ desires in this new age of evolved selling, consultative discovery, data-leveraging tools, and consistent engagement for mutually beneficial feedback will be among our greatest enablers for success. These enablers highlight and inform our buyer orientation.
In preparing to deliver a True North presentation, we should invest ample time around discovery. Beyond our standard questioning, we should focus inquiries that probe for deliverables across each preference in the survey. The research tools and approaches employed can vary quite a bit from person to person; yet the goals are consistent:
• What knowledge is missing internally and where?
• How is success measured for each stakeholder?
• What pain points, objections and fears need be addressed as the evaluation progresses?
In support of this discovery, there is an abundance of tools available to us for prospect orientation. Investing time and energy in the proper process and tools to flesh out discovery perspectives will be key to consistent out-performance. Yet, beyond those tools, the biggest differentiator around delivery will be finding innovative ways to leverage the data they provide. One example: LinkedIn. It’s a ubiquitous platform with massive amounts of leverageable data to engage valuable prospects directly. But, have you ever solicited your prospect’s own customers and their customer’s direct experiences in support of your value proposition? How credible and powerful might your presentation be as a client sanctioned advocate?
It’s ultimately up to you and me to string together those coalitions and bits. But the uniquely impactful experience we create comes from bringing together these relevant yet separate data points to weave a compelling narrative for our prospect organization. One that can be retold many times and reverberates through their halls, long after we’ve left the building. Like a fingerprint, each story will be different. Uniquely ours and our individual prospects’ to share.
Not to be understated, the feedback loops we create are going to be essential to keeping our fingers on the pulse of a True North opportunity. They need to be strategically included early in our sales process and leveraged long after the deal is won. These feedback loops along with the processes and the behavioral adjustments they inform, will ultimately make the work of True North selling a natural part of our modern sales DNA. The canned slide deck will begin to feel dated over time, like that old model iPhone in your “everything” drawer.
I fully expect sellers will come to know and value the inside knowledge, respect and appreciation gained through these buyer focused engagements. Beginning with these ends in mind, and thoroughly addressing these buying considerations early, should set us on a course to ever more fruitful selling.
Fit the Vessel and Set Sail
Once we’ve invested in the comprehensive discovery, data-leveraging tools and proper feedback loops to keep us on course; it’s time to launch! Set sail and execute. By keeping keen to deliver value at every waypoint from previous discoveries, we will be empowered to share impactful stories and garner great feedback along the way.
Fair warning and full disclosure, I expect there will be many stops and starts along the way, and we should be prepared to adjust course frequently. We may scrape, run aground, or even shipwreck from time to time. Even so, navigating by our customers stated preferences, and tacking back frequently to our business prospect’s pain points and desires, will yield the best of outcomes for all involved in the journey forward. As sales leaders, we can be proud. This kind of orientation should place us in a league of our own, among the best of business leadership setting a new pace and standard into the digital future.
As data becomes more ubiquitous for buyers and sellers alike, this True North focus stands a strong chance of emerging as the most powerful method to winning in the future of evolved selling. An evolution for the better, broad customer feedback supports this line of thinking. Innovative organizations are leading with people, time and capital to enable this prospect-oriented approach. An approach, by the natural order of things, many B2C buyers have come to expect.
So, there we have it. Our True North. Our simple imperative in turbulent times. Secure the tools, fit the ship and sail accordingly…