According to Forrester Research, nearly two-thirds of B2B marketers identified engaging key decision makers as one of their top challenges.
I bet it is safe to assume salespeople struggle with the same issue as their marketing peers, yet in drastically different ways.
By the point in time marketing has vetted target organizations, after initial connections have been made, after buyer roles have been identified, you would think the hardest parts of setting a salesperson up for success for the rest of the sales cycle are past worries.
Yet knowing who the decision makers are within an organization does not translate to sales. Having a decision maker interested in your solution does not translate into sales. And, to be honest, sales do not translate into overall business outcomes. What makes your B2B organization successful is the value you provide your customers.
What then are some of the leading practices for engaging with decision makers to reveal your value and win their trust?
1. Start with questions — not your solution.
Your solution offers specific features and benefits, but these features and benefits can be applied to your B2B buyer’s pains in many different ways, in varying degrees. You would not want to hear about how a company could help you organize email addresses for targeted automated messages if you have zero email addresses; you want to learn about how their software helps you gather email addresses. Likewise, a buyer will not care if your solution provides a way to streamline packaging services if your buyer does not sell a tangible product.
Ask your decision maker questions. How does their organization operate? What are they really good at? What are they struggling with? What is holding them back from achieving their objectives? What are their goals? Once you understand their world, you are better positioned to help them envision your solution within their organization — and you will be better equipped to tell them exactly how it can fit into their processes, help improve others and help them reach specific outcomes. Which leads us to…
2. Focus the conversation on their outcomes.
Implementing your solution may seem like more work than just putting up with the pains, some buyers may think. Or maybe they are not convinced they will see the big return on the investment that they need. Help quell buyers’ worries and help them break their status quos by speaking in terms of outcomes.
Once you understand their goals, dialogue with them about how your solution can help them achieve – and even exceed – those goals. Work with marketing to create relevant and engaging case studies that show how your solution has helped others. Encourage your buyer to voice any of their objections, and talk through the objections in an honest conversation. If you are seeking to serve your buyer, you are setting out to help them do better and achieve more, and that will be transparent, appreciated and embraced by your buyer.
3. Don’t dismiss other stakeholders.
While your decision maker is vital to the sales process, as a person who has the authority to make a decision about your solution, other stakeholders matter, too. The average B2B buying decision committee, according to CSO Insights, has 5.7 buyers for a reason – they all have opinions. In order for your solution to be successful, stakeholders, AND people who are suffering the pain, will need to buy into the solution as well in order for its successful implementation. Do not forget to listen to their concerns and gather their insights on top of your decision maker’s.
When you engage buyers with these three methods, you lose your salesperson or marketing status and become a trusted advisor. You stop selling and you start serving. What follows is greater gains for both your organization and your buyer’s organization alike, because you started with what is in the best interest of you buyers first.
At Mereo, when my team puts in this extra time to engage following this formula, we get feedback from our clients like this:
“Mereo’s approach allowed them to first, get to know us better than we know ourselves in many cases and second, embed into our team and operations so they could help us in precisely the areas we needed. The real aha was the number of sales managers who shared with me that they thought the Mereo team members were Pitney Bowes employees and that we needed to hire more like them. That says it all!”
— Mike Graves, Pitney Bowes, Vice President, North America Channel Sales
Is your organization struggling to connect meaningfully with decision makers? Let’s talk.