Author: Jay Mitchell



The Research is Here: Relationships Help (and Hurt) in Sales



Building relationships in sales offers a myriad of benefits. Not only do your teams become skilled at diagnosing and solving buyer pains, but it will also fix some issues your organization may be facing.

In fact, industry data is showing that in many issues leaders faced last year, the lack of (or too many) value-based relationships between buyers and sellers contributed to the problem. Leaders who did not focus on relationships often saw more opportunity losses. On the flip side, organizations with too many relationships also saw losses. Today, I would like to share how you can build meaningful relationships and how they will affect both you and your buyers.

 

Building and Fostering Relationships

In a recent study, about 75% of B2B buyers deemed their last purchase difficult or complex (Gartner). Some of these challenges come from buyers’ internal processes and the increasing number of decision makers engaged in the buying journey. Others result from uncertainty about the number of solution options—what makes them different and valuable. Help your buyers by enabling your teams to become trusted advisors and help your buyers break the status quo.

Become a trusted advisor. Your buyers crave and appreciate the trust built between themselves and your salespeople. To start building a relationship with them, here are a few tips:

  • Speak plainly. The marketing speak is effective, but buyers care more about having a real conversation that they know will help them find a valuable solution. This also gives you the chance to communicate this value (both educating them on their pain and informing them about a potential approach and related outcome) to them.
  • Show buyers how your solution works. This can easily be done through demonstrations. Besides, if your buyer is investing in your solution, it would help them know how it works and how it fits their needs.
  • Connect your prospects to current clients. It would be best to have a network of current clients available to speak with your prospects. This allows your prospects to hear honest feedback from an actual buyer who became a client.
  • Be honest. Your solution probably will not solve every problem a buyer faces or will ever face — it is important to make that clear to them. You should also communicate any limitations your solution has. This type of honesty will be a huge contributor to a long-term relationship with this buyer.

Break the status quo. Sometimes buyers do not even realize they have a problem your solution can solve, and this is often where selling organizations lose out most. Buyers typically have the same mindset when encountering an issue: This is just how it is. This is dangerous for the buyer and your deal. When buyers let the status quo win, you will often see that they do not come to a decision, leaving your deal frozen. In short, the buyer continues to struggle and you lose yet another deal. It is up to you to change this mindset. Let me share how:

  • Ask questions and listen well. Not just any questions, meaningful questions that will help you — and sometimes even the buyer — uncover pains that may not have been obvious. Asking discover-based questions allows your salespeople to diagnose potential pain points and helps build or strengthen the relationship with the buyer(s). Just remember, these questions should go beyond ones that can be answered with a quick internet search and your salespeople should genuinely have the drive to serve your buyers.
  • Sell after you earn their trust. Several of the ways we have discussed to build trust will also help you break the status quo. These include connecting prospects to current clients and being honest about your solution’s limitations.
  • Provide proof. Have handy success stories and relevant use cases. In fact, Forrester found that 71% of buyers consider client value stories and relevant use cases the most credible sources in their buying journey.

When you form a relationship with a buyer — when you Seek to Serve™ — you become a trusted advisor they can turn to for any pains now and into the future.

The Seek to Serve™ Philosophy

Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® provides a guiding philosophy that creates a win-win situation for your buyers and your organization. Learn the ins and outs of this philosophy and how to put it into practice with the Complete Sales Organizational Guide to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell eBook.

 

Learn to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell®



Sellers Have a New Challenge: To Ease an Increasingly Difficult Buying Journey



A multi-national software provider’s sales cycles was running 12-18 months on average. To say deal velocity was slow would be an understatement. When they engaged Mereo to address this, we conducted a win-loss analysis and discovered that the majority of the sales cycles were really about three to four months. What filled the other part of the year?

Well, it was a combination of two things. The first was an extensive exploration phase by the client — they were “kicking the tires” to determine if their problem was significant enough to even address. While members of the buying committee were engaging “solution providers,” they were not even looking for solutions yet. They were researching the challenges and seeking insights and thought leadership that would help them conceptualize the problem. Second, the buying organizations were mostly retailers or brand companies selling directly to consumers. As a result, peak season played a major role in timing, in essence shutting down three to six months of buying window each year over the fall and holiday season.

This one example goes to show: Overall B2B buying has gotten more complicated. Around three-quarters of B2B buyers consider their last purchase difficult or complex (Gartner). Buyer’s internal processes account for part of this complexity: Most committees now involve 6 to 10 decision-makers and tend to engage more than 10 channels along their buying journey. Talk about too many cooks in the kitchen reading too many recipe variations at once.

Yet, sellers add friction to the modern buying journey, too — and this is where your selling team has influence and where I want to focus your efforts ahead.

NAVIGATE YOUR SALES FORCE AWAY FROM ADDING TO BUYER FRICTION

If your sales force is stuck on selling to buyers, they are adding friction to a buyer journey that is already challenging enough.

Sellers complicate buyer’s lives when …

Buyers do not need salespeople. Buyers need problem-solvers, industry mentors — trusted advisors. They require sellers who Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® as they navigate their problem and explore the solutions available to them.

AND RE-ROUTE YOUR SALES FORCE TO SEEK TO SERVE™

A sales force that serves as a buyer’s trusted advisor builds trust, fosters value — and wins deals sustainably. The goal remains the same (to sell your solution) but with an essential twist (to focus first and foremost on the buyer).

A trusted advisor who Seeks to Serve™ …

  • Asks questions and listens.
  • Helps buyers best understand their challenges and break free from the harmful status quo.
  • Acts as an expert on their buyer’s industry, business and role — bringing forth key insights and challenges for a buyer’s risks and opportunities.
  • Provides consistent value across buying channels.

Take that multi-national software provider I mentioned at the start: The lesson we learned from our analysis was that the buying journey was long and complex. But the sales cycle was actually fairly rapid once they engaged in buying. The sales organization discovered they needed to ramp-up their thought leadership efforts to gain mindshare and help educate the buyers during the exploration phase. The key was to minimize expense (hard dollars of marketing campaigns as well as staff cycles) while offering meaningful insights that the buyers ideally correlated with them as the trusted advisor.

Enable your selling teams to simplify the buying process and stand out from the norm. Download The Complete Sales Organization Guide to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell. Reach out to our experts for help enabling your sales force with the value selling knowledge, tools and skills to put it all into practice.

SEEK TO SERVE



2 Reasons Why Sales Organizations’ Win Rates Are Dismal



Most of us like to talk about winning, especially in sales. But there exist lessons in losing too. In a recent SaaS Metrics Benchmark Report, companies shared a median win rate of 25-30%. Most salespeople are losing about 75% of qualified sales opportunities. That is huge.

Low win rates mean missed quotas, inaccurate forecasts and hard-to-achieve revenue plans. They increase client acquisition costs (CAC) for your organization and frustrate sellers, leaders and prospective buyers stuck in their status quo.

If your salespeople are on a losing streak, it is time to reassess your selling engines:

  • Are you sending salespeople after truly qualified leads, or could your qualification process be improved?
  • Once your salespeople engage qualified leads, are they enabled with the right knowledge, tools and skills to serve buyers as trusted advisors?

Likely, both these aspects of your sales process could benefit from some attention. Let’s give it to them.

ARE YOUR PROSPECTIVE BUYERS TRULY QUALIFIED?

Sending salespeople after poorly qualified leads sets them up to lose — and misrepresents true win rates. In qualifying leads, many sellers still focus on buyer budgets first and foremost, but that approach is outdated for today’s marketplace and buying trends.

At Mereo, we focus on four lead qualification criteria to help your sales force identify buyers to meaningfully engage:

  1. Alignment: Does the prospect match your target buyer and organization power profiles?
  2. Appropriateness: Does the prospect have a need that your solution will solve?
  3. Authority: Does the prospect have decision-making influence and the power to allocate budget for your solution?
  4. Action: Will the prospect have a sense of urgency to solve their pains — and to solve them now?

To harness the AAAA qualification framework, download the proven formula today and reach out to our experts.

BETTER QUALIFY LEADS

IS YOUR SALES FORCE PREPARED TO SERVE BUYERS ALONG THEIR JOURNEY?

If your lead qualification funnel delivers highly qualified leads to salespeople — and win rates still suffer — examine how you can better enable your sales force.

Our Mereo experts focus on three legs to the revenue enablement stool:

  1. Buyer Insights: Do your salespeople understand your target buyer and how to approach them along the buyer journey to unearth pains and build trust?
  2. Sales Assets: Do your salespeople have the value messaging and tools to help them meaningfully engage prospects in compelling conversations all along the buying journey?
  3. Sales Skills: Do your salespeople have the right competencies and behaviors to serve as trusted advisors and see deals through to close?

Do not stop at simple revenue enablement either. Help your sales professionals become trusted advisors that Seek to Serve, Not to Sell®. If you manage this, you foster a sales force that is building meaningful relationships and is sharing true value with buyers. After trust is achieved and value is proved, these connections will look to your organization for help when they need it. This is how you achieve sustainable revenue performance.

Reach out to our experts for support with your enablement program, and download a copy of The Complete Sales Organization Guide to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell.

BUILD A CULTURE OF SEEK TO SERVE



Tim Ohai Wants You to Forget About Changing Your Business Culture — Focus on Driving Clarity



Business culture is the beating heart of your operations. Yet, this subjective concept is often hard to define, assess and, most important, influence to help lead your teams to sustainable revenue performance.

We at Mereo spoke with expert Tim Ohai, a leading growth consultant and founder of Kupu Solutions who formerly served in leadership roles at Workday, Shell Oil and Pennzoil, about what leaders like yourself can do to foster a healthier business culture in 2024. Read our condensed conversation below.

There is a lot of discussion about the importance of fostering the right business culture, but let’s start by taking a step back. How do you define culture in the terms of businesses and selling?  

Tim: Culture is such an overused word, and, frankly, I’m a bit of a contrarian when it comes to defining it. Culture is technically defined as the spoken and unspoken values of the organization, and some form of how the group makes decisions as a collective.

In reality culture is not the organization — it’s usually groups or teams. Finance has its own culture, and sales has its own culture. Marketing has its own culture. HR has its own culture. I find that you can literally go from function-to-function and feel like it’s just a different set of values or principles that drive how they make decisions. And that’s what you’re looking for: What is going to drive decision-making in that organization in both positive and negative ways.

How can leaders support these localized, tribal cultures, while also nurturing alignment for their organization across departments and geographies?

It’s ultimately about what you are trying to achieve as a group, as a collective. The fracturing occurs when you start seeing breakdowns in how individual groups define what success looks like. But if you have really strong goal clarity — and I mean really good goal clarity where people know goal No. 1, goal No. 2, goal No. 3, and are empowered to achieve those top three goals — you will find the culture will come alongside to support that entire journey. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Oregon or Texas or New York or wherever. If you can get people all shooting for the same goal, they will actually align in how they make their decisions. Then those commonalities, core values and principles will start to overlap. And when you can do that, you start building what I would consider a stronger culture.

You’ve written a lot in your past thought leadership about how individuals can only motivate themselves. As leaders hold their 2024 sales / revenue kickoffs this first part of the year, what would your advice be to leaders for getting their teams to buy in to their 2024 vision? What can they do beyond that to inspire a sense of greater purpose in their people?

I’ll be blunt: Stop de-motivating your teams. And when I say de-motivating, I mean stop creating barriers to their effectiveness. The four most common de-motivators are (1) isolation, (2) information overload, (3) task difficulty and (4) unrealistic expectations.

When we as leaders allow isolation (both physically and functionally), our people start to feel alone and that de-motivates. We give people way too much information — too many emails, too many announcements, too many priorities — that de-motivates. If we ask people to do something too hard and we haven’t given them the empowerment or training or resources to do it, that de-motivates. If we have unrealistic expectations about what’s going to happen, not only do we set our people up to fail, we then punish them when they don’t meet those expectations, and that de-motivates.

How often should leaders assess their culture, and what are some warning signs that a selling culture has turned toxic?

The easiest way is to use the model I have built around strategic execution. If there’s a lack of clarity, a lack of empowerment, a lack of engagement, a lack of accountability and / or a culture that you clearly see is just not working — those are your signs. But when the culture is off, and you don’t know where to start, I go back to clarity. Lock clarity into place first. Make certain that everyone has the exact same definition of priorities, goals, and roles – because without it, the team will begin to suffer.

I just planted a lemon tree in my yard. It was a Christmas gift. It’s a beautiful dwarf Meyer lemon. I love being able to walk into the yard and pick fresh fruit from the garden. And we had some great rain, and it was doing well. Then it stopped raining. All the top leaves curled down. And I realized all I need to do is start watering it. I didn’t have a bad tree. I just wasn’t watering it enough.

I think a lot of times we think our culture has gone toxic for some reason and the reality is all we need to do is add clarity and empowerment. And all of a sudden, the culture starts to come back to life again, naturally.

What final thoughts do you want to leave revenue team leaders with about supporting a strong business culture in 2024?

Culture is impossible to change — that is without clarity, empowerment, engagement and accountability. And a lot of people want to hit the easy button and go straight to fixing culture. It doesn’t work that way. Then they say, Alright, well, we’re just going to get some accountability around here. It doesn’t work that way. We need better engagement; we’ve got all this quiet quitting. It doesn’t work that way. You have to start with clarity, then empowerment. You do those two things first and you will earn the ability to start tackling your culture.

BE CLEAR ON THE VALUE YOU SHARE

 Having a culture that embraces Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® stands out in a buying environment that can feel forceful and void of relationship. Seeking to serve buyers builds trust and relationships — the true currency of a successful business. Download the game-changing Seek to Serve™ eBook to enable your workforce toward serving buyers as a true trusted advisor.  

If you’d like to explore this idea even further, check out Tim’s podcast episode that that goes much deeper and shares some of his best practices here.

 

 



Show Some Love to Your Salespeople



Appreciation goes a long way in life and in the office. For example, Mereo recently had the opportunity to work with a $100+ million software as a service (SaaS) company that wanted to grow at least 20% in 2024, a healthy up-tick on previous trends and also an objective following a recent infusion of capital and energy from new ownership.

While this company was growing on its own despite the lack of investment, their teams were struggling. The new investor and new leadership surveyed the teams and learned that their people craved professional development — something that had historically been lacking, leaving the sales and customer success teams, in particular, floundering to figure things out on their own. The leadership saw the insights as an opportunity to invest in the people who are the most important ingredient to the growth.

To accelerate this opportunity, leadership teamed up with Mereo to create a kickoff not only for the new year but for the future of the business. The initial feedback from their sales force was “very appreciative,” and leadership made committed plans to invest in their valuable employees.

Appreciating your teams goes beyond kindness — employee appreciation and investment can actually make an impact on your bottom line. Keep reading to learn how to put this overlooked leadership skill to practice in your organization.

The Importance of Gratitude

Put yourself in your teams’ shoes. Do you feel motivated to work hard when you do not feel appreciated? Do you have a strong desire to stay with an organization that does not recognize or acknowledge your effort? Probably not. It can be easy to be pleased with your team’s performance without realizing you have not expressed this to them.

Harvard Business Review explains that while recognition and appreciation are often used interchangeably, they actually mean two different things. For example, recognition is expressed when your salesperson closes a high-value deal and you praise them for it. Appreciation is expressed when discussing a person’s innate value. Really, both are needed to effectively show your gratitude.

To help inspire you on your journey, here are a few simple ways you can show your revenue teams some love:

  • Rejoice: When your team and individual team members succeed, celebrate the outcome and the contributors to that outcome. That can be winning a new client, expanding the value your organization creates with an existing client and milestones all along the way to those pinnacles. Feature the victories on team calls and company gatherings while highlighting not only the ultimate successes but also the overcome obstacles.
  • Review: All the victories in the world are built on the back of challenges and even failures. Offer feedback on what is working well and what is not working so well. The most effective way to coach is not only in the struggles but even in the wins. Make it part of the DNA of your culture and your leadership style. Be constructive in identifying and guiding your salespeople in areas of improvement.
  • Reward: As the team and individuals are triumphant, offer them growth opportunities to be stretched even more. While you recognize the success, you also challenge them to press forward. This demonstrates your desire for them to continue to grow, not just rest on their laurels. And give them a window into leadership. Where it is feasible, include your team in decisions. Share the vision and encourage them to participate in identifying the approach to accomplish the vision. This communicates that you value and trust their experience and insights to the bigger picture as well as the tactical execution.

These are only a few ways that you can show your gratitude. After all, seeking to serve your teams is a great first step in seeking to serve your organization and your buyers.

The Power of Gratitude

When you choose gratitude, you will notice your team’s motivation, morale and performance increase.

Increase Motivation

A Glassdoor survey reported that 81% of professionals claimed they would be willing to work harder for an employer who is appreciative.

Enhance Team Value

After the selling world (more or less) recovered from Covid, many organizations chose to stay remote or hybrid; this is even true today. To combat the possibility of your teams feeling like they are not valued, invest in them.

Attract and Foster Valuable Employees

A strong employee experience management strategy equips your teams with positive experiences that will help them stay motivated and serve your buyers. A powerful strategy also helps to attract, engage, retain and develop more employees who perform well.

Seek to Serve™ for More Win-Win Situations

Happy employees typically mean increased motivation and productivity. But what if you take it a step further and Seek to Serve them? Serving your teams motivates them to serve your buyers — everyone wins! Start practicing Seek to Serve with our eBook.

Seek to Serve Your Teams



Overcome These 3 Selling Pitfalls B2B Buyers Love to Hate



As we welcome in February, we enter a season focused on relationships and comradery. For us at Mereo, this means leaning all the more into Seek to Serve, Not to Sell®. But much like with dating in the personal world, most buyers have a frustrating story of no-deal with a salesperson who fails to serve — and thus fails to sell.

Most of these sales stories are not nefarious or outlandish. What is truly daunting about these deals gone wrong is that these selling faux pas are commonplace and innocent. Most sales organizations do not even realize they are committing them.

We want to share the three biggest selling pitfalls to help you identify where sales deals that are seemingly in the bag can fall into no-deal — and then show you how to overcome, Seek to Serve™ and win.

THE DEAL WITH PREVAILING STATUS QUO

More sales deals end in no decision than in a solid “no” from a buyer who moves on to a competitor’s offering. In fact, most selling organizations try to sell a buyer on a solution before the buyer has even realized they have a problem to deal with in the first place. No problem means no solution means no deal. Status quo wins.

Last fall at a gathering of leaders from professional services firms across the world, I listened to an open discussion about the top growth challenges firms faced. The No. 1 culprit attendees pointed to that hampered growth was a lack of deal flow.

Why is deal flow an issue now when it was not as much in years past?

  • The typical volume of deals is stalling-out
  • Economic climate
  • Buyer paralysis, where news, potential risk and other factors lead to buyers to freeze, is on the rise

But no sense of urgency caused the biggest issues for these firms in deal flow. And this was on the firms themselves. They approached selling with a “vitamin” and not a “pain killer.” Their business cases revolved around “getting better” in revenue growth, cost reduction, employee productivity and more — but few of the firms could make an argument about what would happen to the buyer if they chose to do nothing. Would the buyer’s business fail? Would they miss payroll? Would they lose their premiere client? Buyers buy pain killers, not vitamins, especially in a market climate like we are experiencing today.

THE DEAL WITH NO VALUE PROPOSITION

Even after a buyer internalizes that they have a pain to deal with, your organization has to prove it is selling a valuable solution. “What is in it for me?” Buyers ask. “What gains can I get from solving this?” This might seem an obvious selling principle, and yet just 42% of selling organizations actually have a formalized and compelling value proposition (Sales Mastery).

We have the opportunity to meet with a lot of leaders and revenue teams across our client base. Invariably, when we ask them to share their “value proposition,” they respond with a “proposition” — minus the value. They tell us all about their solution, and how the features are unique and will provide a number of benefits to the users.

Over more than two decades of doing this, I can count on one hand the number of times the client offered a true “value proposition.” They neglect to speak about their buyers and users and the struggles they are experiencing before the solution is in place. They miss the value! Buyers do not buy propositions — but they do invest in value propositions.

THE DEAL WITH NO DIFFERENTIATION

If your buyer realizes they have a problem to solve and that a solution has enough value to consider addressing the problem — it is important to follow through with a compelling reason as to why your solution’s value is the best. If you fail to distinguish your solution from other’s, you might very well have teed up a sale deal for a competitor.

While we were working with a growing software as a service (SaaS) firm backed by a private equity partner, the sales and product leaders struggled to understand why their win-rates were about 33% when they used to be north of 50%. They operated in a relatively commoditized space, and their solution had some feature differentiation, though these features were not must-haves.

We asked them for their competitors, and they gave us two with a new company on the horizon, meaning three primary players existed in this competitive marketplace. When we dug deeper into competitive differentiation, we discovered all three were a little different shades of the same color.

We illustrated a simple math problem for these leaders on the whiteboard that I want to share with you now:

We asked: If everyone is relatively the same, and there are three competitors—what is the “fair share” each would likely command in market share?

Their answer? About 33%.

We smiled and asked then: When you had two primary competitors, what was the “fair share” of the market you expected?”

Their answer? About 50%, and they smiled, catching on.

If you are not offering compelling differentiation from the competition, you are most likely going to win a “fair share” of opportunities. If you can create (through development and / or marketing) a differentiated market position and then offer a compelling value proposition to those buyers, you will be winning an “unfair share™.”

DO NOT BECOME ANOTHER SALES DEAL GONE WRONG STORY

Overcome the biggest selling mistakes that frustrate and fail to serve buyers. Explore our Derailing the Deal eBook for all five of the biggest sales pitfalls hurting your sales deals and discover the proven strategies for overcoming them.

KEEP DEALS ON TRACK



Partner — Do Not Replace — Your Selling Professionals With AI



This week I opened yet another email in my inbox that seemed … off. The sender had my correct name. They had Mereo’s name correct. Yet, the message read strangely. Referencing a client story from an organization we helped years ago, they said they could help us find clients fitting a similar profile. But that organization they referenced no longer exists. Thus, similar client profiles would be impossible. Moreover, that client proved to be a “blue bird” from a market segment for which we offer some value but not necessarily game-changing value.

As you likely have experienced since 2023, I have been a frustrated receiver of artificial intelligence (AI) bot messages regularly. As the technology continues to infiltrate our selling spaces and mature, I hope to see less of this broken structure and more of what AI can do well.

AI offers faster, more-efficient and more-productive prospecting and selling capabilities to B2B sellers. Yet, some sellers fail to use these tools for what they are. They miss connections and confuse or repel prospective clients. They fail to Seek to Serve™ with AI.

Leading B2B organizations, though, have figured out how to incorporate AI tools into their selling engines to make them stronger and more sustainable. It all comes down to empowering your sales force with the right AI tools — while keeping the critical thinking and human connections in your sales and marketing people’s onus.

SAVE THE CRTICIAL THINKING FOR THE BRAINS

When you put too much trust in automation or AI tools, you sacrifice critical thinking we humans do best. AI can help streamline your selling processes. It can help reduce the time and mundanity for your sales and marketing people to spend elsewhere. But your selling professionals should be prepared to partner with AI rather than expect it to do all the selling work.

Let AI help your sales and marketing people:

  • Research companies and profiles
  • Gather market insights and data
  • Consolidate business articles and buyer content
  • Populate draft one templates

For example, what once amounted to a week of research on your sales or marketing person’s behalf now can become a half-day review of information that your professionals can use to draft a report or tailor to a template or, even, write an email. A key to this amounting to a successful selling message or activity is that your professionals are there to critically review and pull in extra content and insights that make sense. They serve a vital role as the layer of real intelligence to make for a truly meaningful and effective selling engagement.

REMEMBER THE HUMAN CONNECTION IN SELLING

Successful selling takes more than human brains, though. You cannot automate or artificialize human connection — at least not genuinely or well. And at the heart of value selling, human connection still wins. It will always win above all else when the human passionately brings value to every interaction.

AI cannot know that you enjoyed a game of golf with this prospective buyer last month. AI fails to reference or build on relationship. These tools cannot possibly adjust price or message based on years of knowledge you have accumulated with the buyer or one similar.

Let AI help your sales and marketing people:

  • Gather the details
  • Put forth some message concepts
  • Recommend calls to action and wording
  • Set the tone and concept
  • Write draft one

Then be sure the revenue team adds the personal touch and spirit of the message. Add the heart and human connection.

INCORPORATE AI INTO YOUR SELLING WITH REAL INTELLIGENCE

Love it or hate it, AI is only growing in selling. Embrace this technology as a tool for productivity and efficiency — and ignore any thoughts about cutting corners or losing folks to it. With Seek to Serve, Not to Sell® at the heart of your AI approach, you, your organization, and your buyers will win in the long run.

LEARN THE SEEK TO SERVE APPROACH



5 Role-Play Activities to Incorporate into Your 2024 Revenue Kickoff



Studies have shown that 75% of people learn by doing, so it is only natural that your kickoff event includes exercises that support this learning style. Hands-on exercises and role-play activities can greatly increase your teams’ retention rates and make your kickoff efforts stick. Now I would like to share five of the strongest skill-building activities to consider weaving into your revenue kickoff (RKO). After all, the objective of your program is to enhance the behaviors of your team — not just “check-the-box” training. When you do this right, you help set forth better buyer-seller interactions that Seek to Serve™ for the long-run.

1) Simulated Buyer Conversation

By running a simulated version of a buyer conversation, your teams will feel more comfortable when it is time for a real conversation.

The exercise: Split your teams into groups of two. One person will act as the salesperson and the other will act as the buyer. Set a scenario for them and have the pair act it out. The person who is acting as the buyer should put themselves in the buyer’s position. What problems would they be facing? What qualities would they be looking for in a solution? The person acting as the seller has an easier task of immersing themselves in the role of the salesperson. They should remember your organization’s value proposition and think about solutions that would serve this hypothetical buyer.

The benefits: You and your managers can see where your salespeople shine and where they may need some extra support. You can even take it a step further and have one person come to the front and act out the same scenario with you, and as a group you can analyze what they did well and what needs work. Just remember to foster a safe space for your salespeople to learn, which includes making mistakes.

Bonus! Consider having a manager play the role of buyer in one of your scenarios. This often amps-up the attention of all parties involved, including the manager.

2) Solution Demo

Holding a demo of a solution allows your teams to build confidence and knowledge in what they are selling.

The exercise: Choose a solution from your portfolio — ideally one that is a priority for your kickoff. Give the audience some guidelines (length of the demo, what aspects should be highlighted, etc.). For a clearer example, any demo should be pithy and highlight the value of the solution so consider setting a time limit of one to two minutes. Choose a few people (or ask for volunteers) to come up and demo it for the audience.

The benefits: Running this exercise gives you insight into how versed your teams are in a solution and the buyer use case(s) being addressed. You also can ask your teams if they have questions about the solution itself or what to include in a demo. Much like the buyer interaction exercise, this is an opportunity to correct and reward aspects of the demo.

Bonus! If you introduced a new product / solution in your kickoff, use it for this exercise.

3) Follow-Up Call

Practicing a follow-up call is a great way to prepare your salespeople and relieve any anxieties they may be feeling about a vital sales activity.

The exercise: Give your teams a scenario where three days ago a buyer purchased one of your solutions. Have a few people simulate a follow-up call — either with predetermined buyer answers or having another person act as the buyer (like a sales manager or product manager).

The benefits: You get to see how your salespeople (or client success / client experience teams) are interacting with buyers. You also can analyze if the questions your teams are asking are valuable and if they are leaving room for buyers to choose your organization again when they run into a problem.

Bonus! This exercise is more customizable, so it can be as detailed or as general as you would like.

4) Client’s FAQs

Before your kickoff, send a form to your buyers asking them to send you any questions they have about your solutions, organization or anything really. By having your salespeople familiarize themselves with these questions, they will be ready to answer anything and solve your buyers’ pains faster.

The exercise: This can be done in medium-sized groups or as a larger gathering. Choose a few questions your buyers are asking frequently and have your teams answer them.

The benefits: Your teams should be able to respond to these questions with little to no trouble. If you find they are struggling, consider spending extra time on areas where they may not have answers.

Bonus! With this exercise you can add in more fun! Consider treating this activity like a game show and offer a prize to the team that answered the most questions correctly — especially if this ties into your kickoff theme.

5) Ideal Buyer Profile

Your teams should know their ideal client profile (ICP) like the back of their hand. Use this activity to put that to the test.

The exercise: Like the FAQ exercise, this one will be similar to a quiz. You can start by listing a generic quality or two of an ICP and slowly reveal more distinct qualities as the activity progresses.

The benefits: This activity gives you some insight into how familiar your teams are with your organization’s ICPs. As always, if you notice some struggle, take time to go over your ICPs, why you chose them and how your salespeople should use these details to improve / inform their selling approach.

Bonus! If you have not already, create a Power Profile™ your teams can reference easily. It is also important to note that every organization sets their ICPs up differently, so customize this exercise to best fit your organization’s needs.

Plan the Perfect Kickoff Program for Your Organization

A strong start often results in a strong finish. Make the most of your RKO planning time with Mereo’s RKO planning playbook.

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What Goes in a Revenue Kickoff?



The revenue kickoff (RKO) is becoming the new sales kickoff (SKO), but what exactly is an RKO? How do you know who to invite? What does an RKO entail? At Mereo we are working diligently to stay on top of all things RKO to help you create a successful program. The good news is that RKOs are similar to SKOs in terms of planning, but RKOs open more doors for opportunities to serve your buyers and your organization alike.

What Is the Difference?

At Mereo, we are seeing a shift from “sales” to “revenue” (i.e., sales enablement is now being referred to as revenue enablement). This change supports our stance on building sustainable revenue performance — especially in your RKO. Furthermore, choosing to make the switch from SKOs to RKOs should feel natural given the shift we are seeing in our market. An example of this is CEOs redirecting their focus to revenue and operational efforts.

The differences between an SKO and an RKO are minimal, but these small changes can make a huge difference. The two main differences are your program’s audience and your program’s goals. Let us first look at who will be attending your RKO.

Who Should be Invited?

As I mentioned before, your RKO’s audience will look similar to your SKO’s audience, but with a few extra members. In a traditional SKO, you would typically invite your sales teams and other teams who support them. In your RKO though, client success / client experience teams are introduced. With this addition, there are a multitude of benefits from including these teams in your program since client success / client experience teams focus on your clients’ post purchase experience which is the primary forum for identifying up-sells and cross-sells to your clients. Additionally, the client success / client experience teams often have primary responsibility for renewals (we unpack that a bit more below). Including these teams promotes sustainable revenue performance which results in repeat buyers.

You should still invite the usual teams (sales, marketing, etc.) as everyone is part of your organization’s revenue engine and provides immense value to your everyday operations.

What Should be Discussed?

SKOs focus heavily on sales and sales only. Over the years this framework has promoted the idea that your organization’s job is to sell buyers a product or service and that is all. The RKO still focuses on sales, but also adds the idea of sustainable revenue performance by homing in on your organization’s full revenue lifecycle. How does this support sustainable revenue performance? By ensuring that your organization and its products are serving your buyers. For example, SAAS companies used to focus on selling their license and moving on. Now, these companies work to sell the “right thing” in order to serve their clients and create return clients – AKA “renewals”, which are the kingpin to sustainable revenue performance and optimal market valuations. In addition to your other goals, consider adding sustainable revenue performance to your agenda.

Win Your RKO by Planning a Successful Program

If you are looking for additional support while you plan your RKO, we created a playbook to do just that! Get your free copy of the RKO planning playbook and create a victorious program.

 

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3 KEYS TO PLANNING A SUCCESSFUL RKO



While revenue kickoffs (RKOs) are still somewhat new by name, they are becoming the event to hold. As you all likely know, RKOs bring new benefits and fresh approaches compared to the traditional sales kickoff (SKO). But how do you create a successful RKO?

Learn from Your Past Successes — and Failures

The first step you should take when planning, well, anything is to reflect on the past. What worked? What did not? What could you do better? The truth is: You cannot grow if you do not fail, so do not be discouraged when visiting the ghosts of SKO’s past. If you did something different from your other events, think about the outcomes of that. How did your teams respond? Did you see your desired or intended results? If so, consider trying it again! If not, what can be adjusted or should you completely avoid the change you made?

Another great way to measure your past SKO performance is through numbers. Take a look at numbers like your organization’s revenue performance, whether you accomplished the goals you set with past SKOs and if you met or exceeded the goals you set. Furthermore, try surveying your past attendees. Just remember that if you are looking at past SKOs, adapt them to pivot to RKOs.

A great way to narrow down what to do — and what not to do — is to investigate the past. You will likely uncover insights and ideas you have not yet considered!

Plan Ahead of Time

Preparation is a valuable tool in your belt use it! Planning months in advance is a great way to ensure the maximum impact from your program while helping your teams accomplish the goals you have set.

  • Choose a theme. This is an incredibly fun part of planning an RKO, but this can also feel daunting. Luckily, we have a list of questions to ask yourself when choosing an RKO theme. It is important to consider your organization’s team morale, values and goals for the upcoming year.
  • Identify what trends are worth following. Specifically for your 2024 RKO, we have developed a list of trends to follow — and ignore. It is important to remember that not all trends should be followed, so take into account your goals and the message you are trying to create with your RKO.
  • Create a checklist. We developed our own RKO planning checklist, but it was made as a way to help get you started on your own. Start from the beginning (as always) keeping your goals, values and any other aspects you want in mind. First create a list of the RKO objectives you need to accomplish (choosing a theme, choosing a venue, etc.). Then create a sub list for each (i.e. if you have choosing a theme on your list, add the things you will need to achieve the theme to your sub list). This could be as simple as decorations or as complex as how you will tie your theme into your keynotes (or both!).

Planning is convoluted and is foundational to creating a successful RKO, so start early and you will not be left to scramble.

Create an Engaging Program

We have all had those days where you are at a less than glamorous meeting or event and after what feels like an hour, you check your watch to find it has only been 15 minutes. You do not want your RKO to feel this way, so push for an engaging program.

A great way to promote engagement is with role-play and hands-on activities. This gives your teams the chance to move around and put what you are teaching them into practice. Last year, we explored why you may not be seeing results from your kickoff. We found that a great majority of people learn by doing, so adding these activities not only captures your teams’ attention and gives them a break but allows them to absorb what you are teaching. Another way to build engagement is to create buzz around your RKO. This is a great opportunity to use your theme in a fun, uplifting way to get your teams excited and — most importantly — remind your teams that the event is happening.

Creating an engaging RKO helps your teams grasp what your goals for the organization are and allows them to understand how they can help achieve these goals.

Plan a Successful RKO with the Planning Playbook

As mentioned before, the planning portion of your RKO may be daunting but it is vital. With the Ultimate Revenue Kickoff Planning Playbook, gain expert insights to help you create a successful RKO.

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