Author: Jay Mitchell



Make the Most of What You Have: Practice Sales Efficiency



Growth at all costs can seem admirable, aggressive — a tenacious pursuit that sends Rocky to personal victory after punching on sides of beef and running stairs. Yet, even in Hollywood, Rocky does not win the fight in the end. And while your organization might be compelled to push people, departments and deals to the max with sights set to grow, no matter what, your leaders face risking it all against economic obstacles.

Leading sales organizations know to adapt to present realities. And our present reality still includes uncertainty — in lingering inflation pressures, a pending recession and massive big-tech layoffs. Market leaders are embracing a transition from growth at all costs to efficient growth.

Sustainable revenue performance has always been the objective for Mereo as we serve our clients. And the current market environment presents opportunities to adjust both revenue strategies and tactics, across marketing to sales to customer success, for sustainable outcomes.

STRATEGIC STEPS TO SALES EFFICIENCY

Sales efficiency means doing the most with the resources you have available — or, if necessary, fewer. This seems like an obvious dream for most leaders, yet it will not be realized by wishful thinking.

To actually increase sales efficiency you must make calculated strategic adjustments to your current sales approach.

Assess what resources you truly need for sustainable performance. In uncertain economic times, leaders must make tough decisions, including resizing your sales teams in line with the market situation.

Reimagine sales goals. Tracking efficiency against grow-at-all-costs goals and baselines will set your teams up for failure. Update your expectations based on the resources at your team’s disposal, and realistically measure their performance against these.

Start nitpicking. Hone-in on key areas for improvement in your processes and teams, and hold everyone accountable. The Chief Reminding Officer is a good approach to follow to do this successfully.

Differentiate between busyness and purposeful sales orchestration. Do not confuse your sales team’s busyness with productivity. With efficiency, every action and interaction counts. Keep your team focused and purposeful. Keep your teams driven by urgency.

Make the most of technology and tools. A number of automation tools are available to sales organizations that can help your team do more with fewer resources. Understand the limitations of these tools but also work to integrate them into your processes to enhance efficiency.

CUT OUT THE TOP SALES-DERAILING FACTORS

As you enhance the efficiency of your sales team and processes, tackle the five most common sales pitfalls that keep your deals from closing. From buyer profile to the status quo and more, these sales barriers can delay deals — or worse.

KEEP DEALS CHUGGING ALONG



5 Value Selling Practices Leading B2B Organizations Follow



Many B2B organizations already practice some form or another of value selling — because most organizations understand they need to be driving key outcomes for buyers to succeed for the long-haul.

Yet the leading selling organizations approach value selling less as an abstract concept and more as a strategic approach to sustainable revenue performance. And in this approach, they follow these five leading practices to elevate their efforts.

1) EQUIPPING TEAMS WITH IDEAL CLIENT PROFILES

An ideal client profile helps your organization understand the buyer your organization has set-out to serve. This unifying asset provides a basis to align all buyer-facing teams. Product teams understand what problems to solve and in what context. Marketing agrees on which buyers to target, where to reach them and what matters most to them. Salespeople reinforce all this with a consistent engagements and value messaging approach.

In the end, when leadership takes the time to create this tool, organizations reduce Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and enhance operational efficiency by better deploying marketing and sales resources (e.g. marketing campaigns and sales prospecting are more targeted). Because your teams are engaging the right audiences with the right messaging, too, this helps accelerate deal velocity and increase win-rates.

2) ENABLING SELLERS WITH A POWERFUL VALUE PROPOSITION

Most sellers focus the messaging on the benefit their solution delivers. Yet a true value proposition starts with the buyer’s pain and also includes the outcomes they can expect by solving it with your solution.

If you can embrace the full recipe of a compelling value proposition (Pain > Solution > Gain > Proof), and incorporate that into all market-facing channels (e.g. website, collateral, marketing campaigns, sales prospecting scripts, discovery dialogues, proposal conversations, objection reframes), your salespeople make a stronger case to eliminate the “status quo” as a consideration, accelerate deal velocity, improve win-rates and enhance pricing power.

3) TRAINING SALESPEOPLE WITH ROLE-PLAYS AND SIMULATIONS

Sellers despise them, but it is better to put value selling skills into practice and work the nervousness and adjustments out before engaging a buyer. These sales training and reinforcement sessions work great for up-skilling teams, educating professionals on how to engage new buying personas with new value propositions and instilling the learnings so they become second nature. Make any mistakes in a “safe” environment versus on the battlefield, so adjustments can be made to mitigate risks and deliver desired outcomes.

4) CRAFTING TARGETED SALES PLAYS FOR KEY EVENTS

A sales play solidifies all your sales processes, practices and tools in one verified and qualified source. This value selling tool effectively activates teams to cross-sell solutions after an acquisition or merger. It can come in handy when launching a new solution to market. And it also can help your teams (marketing as well!) intelligently capitalize on a market trend or competitive advantage.

Sales plays typically include:

  • The ideal client profile
  • Sample / representative conversations (pitches, emails, proposal frameworks)
  • Buying committee pains
  • Discovery questions
  • Differentiators
  • Client value stories
  • Objection reframes

5) PIVOTING BASED ON CONVERSATION INTELLIGENCE INSIGHTS

Many organizations have incorporated conversation intelligence (CI) software in their sales technology stack, gathering both qualitative (recorded calls / meetings / emails) and quantitative (analytics / trends / dashboards) insights. Leading organizations, though, leverage the CI information to enhance revenue performance.

The value of CI tools does not come from glancing at the dashboard now and again but rather by pivoting the go-to-market strategy and tactics according to what value selling insights are revealed in real-time. Maybe a new buyer member has joined a buying committee, and your team must adjust messaging. Maybe your leadership has spotted a new differentiator to work into value messaging conversations. Or maybe a large number of your salespeople are failing to embrace all the value selling skills you have tried to impact, and your sales leaders need to re-engage them to polish up deficient skills. These CI tools can help your leaders gauge how much value actually exists in your current value selling approach — and, more importantly, know when and what to adjust.

ENHANCE YOUR VALUE SELLING WITH SEEK TO SERVE™

At the heart of value selling, organizations serve buyers as problem-solvers and trusted advisors. They build long-term relationships that reap long-term win-win rewards, in revenue and beyond. To succeed in this approach, organizations must ultimately embody Seek to Serve, Not to Sell®.

Learn how to deliver maximum value along your buyer’s journey to achieve sustainable revenue performance with this expert guide to value selling.

 

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Were Sales Really Kicked Off? Activate Your SKO Efforts.



As leaders check sales kickoffs off their list, it is easy to ignore the elephant that hovers in meeting rooms, across phones and video screens, and in the office in-between: Did your sales kickoff make any difference?

Fellow C-suite members want to know their investment of countless hours and dollars garners a return to the bottom line — and that a sales kickoff (SKO) is a worthy investment for next year. Sales kickoff planning committee members want to see what worked and what did not work for future planning. Sales leaders need to know who on their team are succeeding with the SKO program, who are not and what needs the most reinforcement.

As a sales leader, it is your responsibility to provide the follow-through. At Mereo, we have built a framework for this evaluation and regular monitoring. Keep reading to learn all you need to know to make your own SKO activation plan.

DO NOT TRAIN YOUR SALES FORCE — ACTIVATE THEM

The ideal flow of the SKO program focuses not only on the fundamentals of knowledge-transfer and uplifting competency but also includes an intentional means of putting those fundamentals into practice.

A sales kickoff activation plan gives your leadership team a guidepost for your salespeople’s performance: Did your SKO messages land? Were new skills acquired? Are the new solutions’ value being grasped and conveyed to buyers? This sales leader tool also provides a framework for accountability and reinforcement sessions to your original SKO sales training and education.

KNOWLEDGE-TRANSFER ACTIVATION

Sales kickoffs are a common platform for educating sales teams on go-to-market areas such as:

  1. Market trends that are causing headwinds or presenting new growth opportunities
  2. New product / service offering information
  3. New value messaging
  4. New / enhanced sales tools

In knowledge-transfer, leaders must educate participants on the arena and also provide them a forum to put the new knowledge into action. This can be done with a hypothetical scenario (e.g. a role-play or simulation) or a real-world case (e.g. accounts or opportunities for which the seller is responsible) through table-top exercises, role-plays and the like.

Ideally, those activities are a pre-cursor for what the seller can do the day they get back to the office — they jumpstart the seller (and surrounding team) to apply the knowledge within the account they serve and the sales opportunities they are pursuing.

COMPETENCY UPLIFTING ACTIVATION

Sales kickoffs are also used to enhance the skills of sales teams in areas where deficiencies are either recognized or suspected. Similar to the Knowledge-Transfer engagement above, there is often an education to exercise to activate flow, where the competency is communicated, then practiced through role-plays / simulations and ultimately reviewed post-meeting in the real-world.

SET YOUR TEAMS UP FOR SALES SUCCESS FROM THE GET-GO

An activation plan can only go so far. Equip your sales kickoff planning committee with the SKO best practices leading B2B organizations follow to continue to elevate your sales kickoff programs. Download this expert resource now.

 

PLAN FOR ULTIMATE ACTIVATION



Stop Selling for Your Competition



If you are like most sellers, you may not realize you could be selling solutions for your competition. What do you offer your buyers that your competitors do not? What are you doing to set yourself apart?

Imagine you are looking for a car. You weigh the qualities you want. Are you interested in safety features most? Does it have the latest technology features? Is the interior comfortable enough for those trips for client meetings?

You have done the research, and now you are ready to buy. You notice that Dealership A and Dealership B have the exact car you want, and they both offer the same features. Dealership A has sold you on the features, but they do not realize they have also sold you on the same features Dealership B is offering and not highlighting anything unique. So how do you choose?

Perhaps Dealership A is offering free car inspection and oil changes in the package. Or maybe their salespeople are more attentive to your needs. That is what sets them apart from Dealership B.

This is a common situation your buyers face every day. When you are not differentiating yourself from the competition, you are selling for those competitors’ solutions just like you are selling your own. Stop selling for your competition with Mereo’s Contrast Quadrant.

WHAT SETS SELLERS APART — AND ABOVE

Sellers commonly call their solution features “differentiators.” This is often not accurate, creating confusion for your buyers and reinforcing distrust in the relationship. The truth is: Your solution essentials likely exist in what your competitors are offering as well. So when your salespeople and marketing teams focus on the key features alone, you wind up selling your competitor’s solution at the same time you are selling your own.

Buyers seek out a solution based on its value in solving their challenges. They choose a specific solution from “similar” alternatives, though, due to a specific solution’s key differentiators. This does not mean they disregard the key features of your solution. On the contrary. This means that there must be more than just checking the buyer’s low-hanging boxes in their journey. You need to stand-out from the rest of the crowd.

When meeting with selling experts who struggle with distinguishing their solutions from the competition, Mereo experts turn to the Contrast Quadrant. The Contrast Quadrant above illustrates the aspects you need to employ in order to set your solution apart from the other noise.

When you put the Contrast Quadrant to use, you are maximizing the value you can offer to buyers, while conveying your unique value proposition, and, thus, motivating the buyers to choose your solution.

ESSENTIALS VERSUS DIFFERENTIATORS

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the “Essentials” and “Differentiators” quadrants, as both are deemed valuable to the buyer. However, your Essentials are not Differentiators, and your Differentiators are not Essentials. Before you can differentiate yourself, you must clearly understand the difference in Essentials and Differentiators.

If something is valuable but not unique, it is an Essential. That is to say, it provides value to the buyers, but that value is not different (or delivered in a unique manner) from the other alternatives buyers are considering. If we do not mention these attributes, the competition will claim them as their Differentiators. These are characteristics or solutions your prospect will view as necessary just to be considered, but they will not be perceived as game-changers in your favor.

If something is valuable and unique, it is a Differentiator. These solution elements offer both value for the buyer and a distinctive capability for realizing that outcome. In buyer-seller conversations and proposals, this is where you will spend the majority of your time. As you communicate these Differentiators, you will need to prove both the uniqueness and the value of that uniqueness.

Now that you understand the difference between the two, which aspect of your solution or organization is / are the most memorable for the buyer? Once you uncover what sets you apart from the competition’s solution, uplift these in your value proposition messaging.

DIFFERENTIATE YOURSELF FROM THE COMPETITION

In order to ensure buyers understand how your solution is different from others, you have to determine the key differentiators. There are four attributes of a differentiator, and your sales leadership must dig deep to identify the most compelling differentiator(s) for your solution and your buyer.

Differentiation Attribute 1: Unique.

If your solution is completely different from that of the competition, you have identified a candidate for differentiation. If your solution itself is not entirely unique, identify that one aspect that is unique. For example, if your solution is similar to another in many aspects, but is the only one that can be configured by a user, then you have a unique feature that is on the way to becoming worthy of differentiation.

Differentiation Attribute 2: Valuable.

Your solution should not be for everyone. The net you are casting would be too wide. Instead, focus on your target buyer and how your solution addresses their needs. If it does not solve the buyer’s pain(s), then it cannot be differentiated as it offers no value to your buyer.

Differentiation Attribute 3: Provable.

Once you have pinpointed your organization’s value proposition, it is time to provide the buyer with proof that value proposition is unique and valuable. One of the most common approaches for proof is done through client value stories or testimonials. Another approach can be providing a demo of the solution while highlighting the differentiated capabilities. However you choose to prove your value, it must be done. Without proof, your buyer will not feel inclined to choose your solution.

Differentiation Attribute 4: Memorable.

If you offer your buyer a list of 20 differentiators as to why they should choose your solution over others they are considering, how many of those 20 will they remember? Maybe two or three. So make the choice simple for your buyer. Even if you have a list of 20 differentiators, summarize it down to the two to three that are most unique, most valuable and most readily proven. Do not make the buyer wade through all the words and options. Keep it simple — that will make those two to three memorable for them, especially if and your broader sales team reinforce them over and over consistently.

SEEK TO SERVE™ TO DIFFERENTIATE EVEN MORE FROM YOUR COMPETITION

Today’s interactions between buyers and sellers can lack the connection, trust and care that marks true relationship-building and value-exchange. Your competitors likely slip up in one or more value selling areas.

With a Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® approach, though, your sellers can stand out from your competitors. They can rise up in the eyes of your buyers as trusted advisors to turn to time and again when the need strikes. Learn how with The Complete Sales Organization Guide to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell.

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Add the New ‘Rule of Thirds’ to Your Sales Model for Ultimate Growth



If your sales model does not serve more than 10 channels — your organization risks slow growth and even buyer loss.

Today’s buyers have higher expectations than ever before. They want to be served with personalization and convenient access to numerous resources all along their buyer journey. They expect to have equal options across mode of delivery too. Especially after the 2020 disruptions, omnichannel selling is not a “bonus” but an expectation.

In fact, in a recent McKinsey report, respondents preferred equal access to traditional in-person selling, remote forms of selling and self-service buying. Remote does not outweigh in-person. In-person does not rank better than self-service. For buyers, they want to choose how they buy and they want numerous options for buying at every stage of their journey.

Offering more channels to your buyers does not only serve their needs better — this enhanced sales model impacts your bottom line. In that same report, McKinsey found that 72% of B2B companies selling with seven-plus channels grew faster than those with fewer.

What channels should your selling company invest in then? How can your teams make the most of these channels? And what roles do your salespeople and your marketing teams serve in this buyer-empowered sales model? We at Mereo have the answers.

SEEK TO SERVE™ ACROSS ALL CHANNELS

First, meet your buyers where they are. Having more channels is not entirely the point. Your organization must offer channels that your buyers already use and prefer. These channels must be focused and targeted. Once you have these insights to back-up your omnichannel efforts, your team will be able to connect with and serve buyers with seamless selling across the channels your buyers prefer.

Align messaging and buyer experience across every channel. Your buyers expect a consistent experience and message across every channel, no matter the delivery mode. As such, be sure all your buyer-facing teams are aligned around the same value messaging and selling framework. And keep your teams and departments collaborating and talking often for best results.

Even if the channel is not face-to-face, you must keep sales personal and relevant. B2B buyers have been moving closer and closer to consumer-level expectations for the last decade now. In this vein, even among these multiple channels, buyers still expect a high level of personalization and relevance when they engage your organization. The more channels do not stand alone in contributing to growth. The more tailored your selling organization can make your buyer’s experience, the more growth sellers will experience as well.

Do not discount in-person engagements — or self-service / e-commerce selling potential — either. Remember, buyers have shown an equal preference for all modes of buying along their journey: traditional, remote and self-service. Many (68%) buyers still view in-person meetings as a sign of a highly-valued relationship. On the flip side, buyers are more willing to make big purchases through virtual or digital means today too. That same McKinsey report found that 20% of buyers were willing to spend between $500,000 and $5 million in a digital or remote transaction! Thus, treat all your channels — those viewed as both legacy channels and new, innovative ones — with equal attention and care.

BECOME A TRUSTED ADVISOR IN OMNICHANNEL SELLING

Where does the “Rule of Thirds” leave your salespeople and marketing teams? Hybrid selling roles are rising in prominence, and those omnichannel selling skills will serve selling organizations well.

Now more than ever, too, your salesforce needs to step-up to the role of trusted advisor. They need an expert-level understanding of your buyer, their needs and their preferences. And with this intel, your salesforce can serve as a trusted guide toward the right channels for that particular buyer at the right stage of their journey.

To help your selling professionals embrace the trusted advisor role across all channels, look to the Complete Sales Organization Guide to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® eBook.

 

MASTER THE RULE OF THIRDS



Are Your Salespeople Spectators — or Ringleaders — to the New Buying Committee Circus?



The number of decision makers within a buying committee has been on the rise. A recent DemandGen Report shows that an average buying committee now comprises one to three members (41%), four to six members (36%), seven to nine members (10%) or 10+ members (14%).

Your leadership must enable B2B salespeople and marketing professionals to serve all the potential players in a buying committee — otherwise risk the committee transforming into a chaotic circus, with each member in their own disparate performance ring under the Big Top.

A buying organization’s acrobats versus jugglers, tight rope walkers versus unicyclists all have different needs, interests and preferences. Your salespeople and other buyer-facing professionals can play spectator to this buying committee circus — or they can serve as the ringmaster of trusted advisor.

In your selling organization, your sales professionals and marketing professionals both have important roles to play to serve every member of the buying committee and to lead each member to the relevant value of your solution.

EQUIP YOUR SALESPEOPLE WITH KEY COMMITTEE INSIGHTS

With buying committees becoming so complex, salespeople can expect each member of the committee to perform a specific role in the decision process. As such, individual members require personalized communications and resources to meet each of their needs. Below is a sampling of common members and how your salespeople can serve them.

Decision Makers

  • Role: Final approval to purchase to include control of economics (budgets, funds), timing and resource allocation (staff, technology).
  • Risks: Also has veto power.
  • Relevancy: Business and financial impacts will be critical to return on investment as a means of justifying the decision. As the Executive Sponsor their personal reputation is at stake.

Stakeholders

  • Role: Vital role in recommending or screening-out solutions during the vetting process.
  • Risks: Can vote “no” based on key capabilities or specifications related to the solution.
  • Relevancy: Their support (or push-back) to the Decision Makers carries immense weight as they carry influence in the organization and are directly impacted by both the pains and gains related to the purchase. While they do not give final approval, their championing of a solution influences the Decision Maker, acting almost as a “gate-keeper” related to their assessment of the measurable, quantifiable components of the proposed solution.

Users

  • Role: Directly use or supervise use related to the solution, so assess the impact the proposed solution will have in the performance of their job.
  • Risks: Success is directly correlated to the adoption of the solution.
  • Relevancy: Personal pains and gains are critical as they engage with the solution directly in the course of executing their job. As a result, their personal time, compensation, reputation and job security are impacted in context of their job responsibilities.

Influencers

  • Role: Shape the buying journey and decision process both directly and indirectly.
  • Risks: Disinterest, lack of enthusiasm and even sporadic participation can indirectly sway other members of the buying committee.
  • Relevancy: Their recommendations and counsel for the buying committee is often based on their experiences, research and analysis of the proposed solution. With the ear of Decision Maker, Stakeholder(s) and even User(s), they can be a channel for introducing the proposed solution as well as championing the proposed solution along the buying journey but rarely will take personal responsibility related to the decision.

Enable your salespeople with powerful but permeable value messaging and sales tools that can be catered to different buying committee members. Then do not forget to give your salespeople the space to practice the different variations of this messaging.

SUPPORT YOUR MARKETING DEPARTMENT TO BOLSTER YOUR DIGITAL PRESENCE

While you will want to focus on getting your salespeople face-to-face with each of these buying committee members, the modern buyer journey has started to take place largely in a digital space. Here your B2B marketing teams come into play.

Your buyers will likely begin their buying journey with an internet search and thereafter exploring your website. Once on your site, buyers will have an eye out for (1) how easy it is to find content that is relevant to their organization and its needs, (2) how easy it is to find pricing and differentiators from your competitors and (3) the expertise in the industry that your content showcases.

In a survey of 340 B2B executives, 82% indicated that the seller’s content impacted the end decision, and 62% even said that high-quality content was in their top five reasons for choosing a specific solution provider over another.

Like salespeople preparing to connect with different buying committee members on a number of different aspects of a purchasing decision, your marketing team also needs to consider the right mix to serve all the buying committee members along each stage of their journey.

KEEP ALL EFFORTS ALIGNED 

With all these different buyer efforts and engagements, your executive teams must keep an eye to internal alignment — for external consistency on behalf of the buyer. A key selling tool sales and marketing should be upholding is your differentiated value proposition. While the professionals in your organization will apply this tool differently per buying committee member and their path on the journey, the core value messaging must be solid and consistent. Turn to the Mereo Value Proposition Formula Worksheet to craft that unifying and powerful differentiated value messaging.

 

FORTIFY YOUR CORE VALUE MESSAGING



WIN YOUR SALES KICKOFF WITH ROLE-PLAY AND HANDS-ON EXERCISES



During your sales kickoff, role-plays and other hands-on activities should dominate. These exercises allow your teams to have in-depth practice of what to do — and what not to do — during buyer interactions.

When your teams are not given the space to practice skills and sales tools, they can make larger blunders with buyers. Your teams need safe spaces to practice and make mistakes. This way, it is easier to point them out and correct them.

Coaches in athletics run “situational” plays all the time – 4th down inside of 2 minutes on the clock in football, inbounding from the end-line with 5-seconds left on the clock in basketball. Or when a baseball player is on deck, they will do practice swings. The player does not do this for fun; they are evaluating the aspects of their swing and taking this time to improve upon and perfect them.

Through these exercises, your teams will have a better understanding of what to do in certain situations and break old sales habits that are no longer serving your organization or buyers.

Your sales kickoff event is like your first game of the season. This is your organization’s chance for either redemption or to hold their title. This can be achieved with a top-notch game plan guaranteed to lead your teams to victory. Just as your favorite sports team does, this is your opportunity to unite, inspire and teach your teams.

HANDS-ON AND ROLE-PLAY EXCERCISES PUT LESSONS AND BEHAVIORS INTO PRACTICE

Role-plays are about understanding the situation and having a plan so that it can be practiced until it is second nature. Psychologically your teams are confident because they have a plan and have seen it work in a relevant simulation. Coaches lead their team through practice plays, holding them accountable to giving it their all rather than just going through the motions. Then coaches remind players of important aspects of the play after the fact. Your sales training programs should be no different — in any mode of delivery.

Most people (75%) learn by doing. That and you do not want your teams to be “practicing” in front of the buyer. During these exercises, your teams can get feedback from their peers and leaders in real-time, making it more difficult for them to learn “wrong” approaches and selling behaviors. In addition to getting your teams well acquainted with your value proposition, sales simulations reveal which members of your teams are ready to implement new selling skills in a real buyer conversation.

Now that you understand the why, it is time to do.

EFFECTIVELY EXECUTE HANDS-ON AND ROLE-PLAY EXERCISES

Create a safe space for your salespeople to learn and grow from your and their peers’ feedback and support. A sports coach does not nitpick or put down. Rather, a coach inspires their players to do and be their best. A common issue B2B leaders face is their teams thinking these exercises are silly, embarrassing or useless. Not all of your salespeople are going to see the value of these exercises, so it is your job to emphasize the value and engage your teams to take these exercises seriously.

Take these steps to prepare for effective sales training practice sessions:

  • Before you jump into role-play scenarios, you need to identify your goal and pre-plan the scenarios you would like to simulate. For example, if your teams are struggling to properly deliver your message to the buyer, add a scenario to your agenda that covers that topic.
  • You need to ensure your teams take this exercise seriously. With two individuals who view this activity as a waste of time, you will likely realize no value or improvement from the activity. Instead, pair everyone with at least one teammate who is committed to bettering themselves and their partner.
  • Set clear rules for the role-play scenarios. This way, your teams will not be joking around but rather they will treat the scenarios as if they were the real thing.

Once you have completed these steps, you are ready! All that is left is to begin the exercise and work together to achieve your end goal and create a foundation for buyer meetings.

CREATE A GAME PLAN THAT WORKS FOR YOUR TEAMS

Role-plays and hands-on activities are the foundation of your sales kickoff. Give your teams and yourself a sense of confidence with a well-designed game plan. Download Mereo’s Ultimate Sales Kickoff Planning Playbook and begin crafting your sales kickoff plan today.

 

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Help Your Salespeople Overcome the Cold Shoulder of B2B Buyer Indecision



Hidden in this winter’s frozen tundra awaits a deal-breaker and time-waster more sinister than the harmful status quo alone. Out there sits the threat of B2B buyer indecision, ready to freeze any buyer, and all other parties involved, in their decision-making tracks.

A recent study by DCM Insights found that from 40% to 60% of deals are lost to buyers who express an intent to make a decision — but ultimately fail to act. The study uncovered that buyers did not fear missing out on opportunity and positive change (breaking the status quo) as much as they feared making the wrong decision.

We can agree this indecision is frustrating and harmful for all involved, but we can also come to understand where it stems from given the current B2B buyer journey.

Today’s average buying committee has at least six voices — with often upwards of as many as 10 — each armed with four to five pieces of independently gathered information to deconflict with the others. Buying challenges do not stop there. In a Gartner report, 77% of B2B buyer respondents rated their latest purchase as very complex or difficult.

How can you prepare and enable your salespeople to trek out into this chilly environment and beat the B2B buyer indecision freeze? Go beyond exposing your buyer to the harms of the status quo. Give them a solid, honest foundation of proof that your solution is the right decision to overcome these.

BUILD AND REINFORCE A WALL OF TRUST BASED ON PROOF

A salesperson who creates trust with their buyers can thaw-out any indecision threatening to hold everyone back.

In a LinkedIn survey, 58% of B2B buyers ranked “trustworthy” as one of the most important traits a salesperson could possess. And 89% of buyers describe the sellers they choose to move forward with as a “trusted advisor.”

Help your salespeople lead with authenticity, value and a strong foundation of proof:

  • Come with success stories and relevant use cases. In a Forrester study, 71% of buyers said client value stories and relevant use cases were the most credible type of content in their decision-making. Find relevant use cases with similar industry, situation and needs to show rather than tell your buyer the ROI they can expect from choosing your solution.
  • Then let your customers do the talking. Build a network of current customers who you can connect your prospects with to externally validate not only your solution but also to reinforce the need to take action in the first place.
  • Fess up to any limitations. Be real with your buyers about your solution from the get-go — because they will likely uncover any shortfalls during their buying journey. Let buyers not only know what outcomes your solution can help them achieve but also the realistic limitations and expectations they should be aware of.
  • Make a solid sales landing with tangible proof. When value engineering is done right, buyers will be able to see how your solution influences their key business priorities. Read more about how Mereo infuses Seek to Serve™ value selling into our calculators to benefit buyers and sellers alike. Alternatively, when buyers lack the imagination to see how your solution is the right choice to change their current status quo, give them the opportunity to put it to the test via a demo or trial run.

BLAST AWAY YOUR SELLERS STATUS QUO

Buyer indecision can freeze not only buyers but also your salespeople from making a positive difference in your buyer’s business. Yet, when your salespeople take on the role of trusted advisor and lean in heavily to proof and ROI, they can alleviate buyer worries about making a mistake and lead them toward overcoming harmful status quos.

When your sales team approaches buyers with Seek to Serve, Not to Sell®, they will only deliver maximum value along the buyer’s journey and help drive sustainable revenue performance within your organization.

LEARN HOW



Are Your Salespeople Brave Enough to Depart on a Discovery Questioning Quest?



In lead qualification and discovery, almost all sales thought leaders tout the same advice: asking questions is key. I could not agree more. Questions pave the way for insights, revelations and relationship-building. They can encourage a shared conversation instead of a salesperson droning on about a solution. Their trajectory often influences whether or not a deal will move forward or tumble off the cliff.

Rather than getting stuck on how many discovery questions your salespeople are asking, your sales leadership would do better to focus on the purpose of the questions your salespeople ask.

  • Are your salespeople asking discovery questions that will elicit information so they can configure your solution to the buyer’s specifics?
  • Or are they asking questions to try to identify issues the buyer is encountering — and especially those the buyer has not even realized exist — to intensify the buyer’s awareness of the pain associated with those issues?

The latter category of questions — helping the buyer realize they have a challenge that is worth solving — should drive your salespeople and selling organization.

This is where sustainable revenue performance is born. Because this quest to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® your buyers builds a deep relationship rooted in trust and value that will result in this buyer turning to you for help.

What questions can your salespeople ask to uncover fundamental problems holding your buyers back from success? Let us explore some game-changing discovery questioning approaches.

A MORE-EFFECTIVE DISCOVERY QUESTIONING SCRIPT

A hero on a quest — and even the hero’s guide — does not focus on gathering facts and statistics. Rather, the hero sets out to uncover a deeper understanding, an insight, a holy grail that makes or breaks the outcome of the endeavor.

The same holds true for your salespeople. But rather than some mystical tools, they have the power of open-ended questions to identify and intensify the awareness of pains with the buyer(s), and to develop trust and credibility with the buyer(s).

The product-focused questions on the left are often questions for which answers can be identified with some research on the buyer’s website or from data enrichment tools (e.g. ZoomInfo). They help with scoping the problem (and thus solution) but do not trigger an emotional engagement from the buyer(s) to say, “You know, this is unacceptable. We need to do something about this. And we need to do it now.”

The quest-focused questions to the right uncover a pain, deepen your salesperson’s and buyer’s understanding of the situation, and rock the status quo for the better. These open-ended questions inspire real conversation and rapport. As the salesperson is garnering a more comprehensive view of the situation and related implications, the buyer(s) is also navigating the “valley of despair” where the buyer(s) gains a realistic perspective about the severity of the issue.

This quest approach is preferred by your buyers too. Aberdeen surveyed over 230 B2B buyers, asking if they would be more likely to work with a seller who questioned their way of doing business by, for example, highlighting an organizational pain point or weakness they were not aware of.

  • 65% replied “Yes.”
  • 53% said they had often changed their purchasing criteria in order to work with a vendor who could address a pain point they could not solve before.

Buyers do not view salespeople simply as a means for acquiring goods and services. They view them as potential drivers of business transformation. They see potential trusted advisors. Now it is up to your salespeople to step up into that role.

A PURPOSE IN SEEK TO SERVE™

This value-centered approach to sales extends beyond the discovery questioning stage. Putting buyers and their true needs first and being an authentic salesperson wins every time — without exception. Download this game-changing eBook to enable your workforce toward serving buyers as a true trusted advisor.

 

EMBARK ON THE QUEST



YOUR FAVORITE MEREO BLOG ARTICLES FROM 2022 & A RECAP OF WHAT THEY REVEAL



Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® is deeply embedded into our culture at Mereo — and that also applies to our thought leadership. We are not here to just make noise but rather to provide you and other B2B leaders with true value that will make a difference in your organizations.

We are continuously watching what resonates the most with you, our reader — and not surprisingly our top-viewed articles align with some of the biggest industry disruptions, challenges and opportunities of 2022.

Keep reading to uncover our most viewed articles of 2022 and for a recap of the year’s top-hitting issues.

#5 THIS IS HOW YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT YOU TO COMMUNICATE PRICE INCREASES, Joel Reed

Sales professionals struggle to communicate price increases. But in February, the rise of inflation demanded these talks. Even now and into the future, as inflationary conditions hang around and as other disruptions come and go, your salespeople may likely need to have these conversations with buyers. From candid conversation tactics to empathy and objection-reframing, our Principal Joel Reed can help you enable your salespeople to communicate price increases right by your buyers.

#4 LOOK BEHIND YOU! THERE ARE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED FROM YOUR PAST SALES KICKOFFS, Josh Hardy

Reflection is an important step in growth. When reflecting on your past sales kickoffs, you can glean from real-world, specific instances what was effective and what was not. There is always room for improvement. And there are a number of methods, which our Principal Josh Hardy details, for gathering proof from the past and turning it into direction for your year-ahead sales kickoff.

#3 PLANNING A HYBRID SALES KICKOFF? PROCEED WITH CAUTION, Joel Reed

As organizations moved to virtual and hybrid options during the pandemic to conduct day-to-day operations, some have chosen to maintain this mode of delivery even with the ease of restrictions. Why not a hybrid kickoff too then? Yet, there are potential dangers to holding your sales kickoff in a hybrid format for both planning committees and attendees alike. Our expert Joel Reed has some cautions to share about hybrid SKOs before your leadership makes a decision one way or the other.

#2 13+ QUESTIONS TO ASSESS — AND OPTIMIZE — YOUR SALES ENABLEMENT PROGRAM, Jay Mitchell

As a leader, it is your job to ensure your organization runs like a well-oiled machine, starting with evaluating your programs and taking necessary steps to improve them. Yet assessing something as unwieldy, intangible and dynamic as a sales enablement program feels akin to coordinating a toddler play. With the right questions and the right tracking system, though, your leadership will be able to expertly assess and optimize your sales enablement program.

#1 THE MEREO VALUE SELLING PRICING STRATEGY DURING INFLATION, Jay Mitchell

The unfortunate reality is that we will face multiple inflationary periods in our lifetime, but this does not mean your organization has to crumble. The right value selling pricing strategy can help keep your organization on the track to sustainable revenue performance. This article outlines necessary, in-depth steps to keep your organization afloat while best serving your buyers — the Mereo way.

We at Mereo hope you have found value with us this past year. Please send me a note if there is any B2B selling issue you would like to see covered in 2023.

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