Author: Jay Mitchell



How Message Dilution Is Hindering Your Buyer and Financial Growth



The best way to understand the threat of message dilution within your organization is to picture a glass filled with your favorite drink. This drink’s flavor has been brewed to perfection. Its notes will sing the moment they hit your tongue. Now add ice and give it time. The melting cubes start to alter the taste. And 99.99% of the time, that change will be for the worse.

At a B2B selling organization, your value messaging is your flavor — while your buyer-facing professionals take the role of melting ice cubes. A powerful value message diminishes from one person to the next. A website page leads with one message while a salesperson sings a different tune on a sales call. A buyer may expect one “flavor” of your company they “tasted” on one platform, to be shocked by the “flavor” they find elsewhere. Confusion abounds.

While messaging consistency is common sense to all, it is not common practice. One industry survey found that 70% of sales and marketing leaders believe their salespeople stray from the organization’s message. A CSO Insights study, too, found that almost 60% of companies say their brand message is diluted before reaching the buyer. This leads to a number of buyer and organizational issues alike.

In terms of dollars:

  • Half of companies state they lost $6 million+
  • 28% said they lost more than $10 million

In terms of the buyer experience:

  • 53% reported that diluted messages created unmet expectations
  • 51% stated message dilution caused customer confusion
  • 49% indicated dilution encouraged customers to consider a competitor

With this many “melting ice cubes” in an organization, many leaders will be tempted to ignore this issue as status quo. Yet your message integrity need not be diluted across your marketing interactions and sales conversation. At Mereo, we have a proven process to align buyer-facing professionals and enable them to expertly connect with buyers with consistency and value.

CREATE YOUR CORE MESSAGE PLAYBOOK

When it comes to buyer-facing tools and messaging, there are many creators within your organization. Marketing builds out digital platforms and other advertising collateral. Sales teams create their own tools and messaging too, often wasting upwards of two days a week doing so. By the time your buyer engages with your organization, the message might resemble something that results from a game of telephone.

 

There is no way to limit the number of people involved with sharing your solution messaging. There is a way to arm them with a core solution messaging guide your leadership team has carefully crafted and approved. At Mereo, we call this the Value Message Power Play™ Book. In your organization’s playbook, consider who your buyers are and the differentiated value proposition that will engage each audience. Take it a step further with value messaging buckets that your marketing and sales alike can reference and pull from to tailor content to different buyer personas. After all, your value messaging need not — and should not — be a script but rather a tool that can be customized for specific buyers and situations.

ENABLE AND REINFORCE YOUR CORE MESSAGE

Your leadership team is not done at crafting a Value Message Power Play Book. It is just as important to arm your salesforce on this vital sales enablement tool. Do not trust they will grasp your messaging from a virtual training session alone. Take a sales kickoff or a sales training meeting to introduce the tool, and set aside plenty of time for practice in using it: in role-plays, ride-along sessions, and one-on-one and group exercises. Provide a diversity of scenarios to show buyer-facing professionals what is appropriate to tailor for a specific buyer — and what turns the waters murky with message dilution.

After your initial training and enablement program, continue to reinforce the key points of your solution’s and company’s value messaging. Learning does not happen overnight. Monitor and hold your teams accountable to maintaining the integrity of your message.

These efforts will pay off: When company messages remain consistent, 62% of companies reported that their annual benefit was $10 million+. Likewise, when sellers provided their sales force with value messages tailored to buyer roles, they achieved 8.9% higher win rates than those who let their team wing it.

AVOID MESSAGE DILUTION FOR SUSTAINABLE REVENUE PERFORMANCE

Message consistency can be hard to master across companies and industries. Adstream leadership in fact struggled with market confusion and growth. Its leadership partnered with Mereo to fix their fractured messaging. They left with differentiated value messaging playbooks and playsheets that shifted the corporate culture to buyer-focused. In turn, these efforts improved demand generation results and win rates for a stream of sustainable revenue performance — and ultimately a rewarding acquisition. If you are interested in reading more, it can be found here.

Read Adstream’s full story here



2022 Is the Year of the Summer Sales Kickoff — Make it Count



Backyard barbeques, family vacations — and a sales kickoff event?

With restrictions lingering at the beginning of the year, many B2B organizations missed their chance for an in-person sales kickoff in the typical first-quarter window. Yet in-person sales enablement engagements have benefits that virtual alone cannot meet — and many B2B leadership know this. So a number of sales leaders are planning sales kickoff–type trainings and events this summer as a way to boost skills and morale.

If your sales team too could benefit from a boost of energy and training, consider bringing them together this summer. Even if not for a full-blown sales kickoff event, in-person gatherings can give your teams a much-needed opportunity to refresh and re-energize after years apart in a wash of virtual demands. Here are the most important elements you need to consider as you navigate a summer sales kickoff–type event.

PRACTICE REASON AND FLEXIBILITY  

Two main logistical issues arise for summer business travel: availability and skyrocketing costs.

The reality is, many of your salespeople might already have travel or family vacation plans on their diaries. Summer is a busy time for many folks. Your leadership team should expect this and be understanding. Pick a date and notify your sales team. Some cannot make it due to a prior summer commitment? Let them know that is OK and they will be brought up to speed when they return — and they can catch the next sales enablement engagement.

In addition to availability, in-person sales engagements of course cost more than virtual. Airfare is incredibly expensive right now. Food and lodging add extra expenses — not to mention any morale-boosting or culture-building activities your leadership may want to incorporate into the agenda. The benefits and outcomes from in-person events justify those extra expenses, though.

Plus a recent Gartner survey found that 73% of chief sales officers (CSOs) estimated their organization’s budgets would increase by an average of 17% this year. And 84% of these sales leaders planned to allocate 20% more funds to sales enablement compared to 2021 levels. Make the most of those bigger budgets by focusing on what matters most in your summer sales kickoff gathering and tightening spend where you can.

HYPER-FOCUS YOUR IN-PERSON TIME TOGETHER

If you have not brought your sales teams together for the last two years, it may be tempting to overload the schedule at your summer sales kickoff. Resist that urge. Three main areas of sales enablement will give your organization the most payoff:

  • Buyer Personas: Many buying organizations and buyer journeys have shifted a great deal in the last two years. How have your buyers changed? How has access to decision-makers gotten easier or harder or just plain different? How can you continue to best serve them?
  • Differentiated Value Proposition: On a related note to buyer personas, how is your organization’s value messaging serving your buyer’s needs here and now? If your company is like most organizations, your value proposition has shifted over the last two years during the pandemic either because the challenges your buyers are facing have evolved and / or differentiated enhancements of your solution have elevated the value you can offer. How can your sellers share your product or service as a solution to your buyer’s problems — and how is that solution better than any other option?
  • Selling Tools: Virtual selling has demanded new technologies and tools. What do your salespeople have at their disposal to tap into for buyer meetings? Do they understand how to use these sales kits and virtual tools? Has marketing and / or product developed new tools salespeople have not had the chance to practice and role-play with? How can they be using them better?

Prioritize what would be most effective to cover during an in-person engagement and what can be left for virtual meetings and follow-ups thereafter.

SUSTAINABLE SELLING SUCCESS

While you gather your sales team this summer for a sales kickoff event, empower them to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™. This selling philosophy encourages salespeople to put buyers first in a selling culture that often feels void of value-exchange, authentic relationships and trust — resulting in sustainable revenue gains and more. Download the guide to get started now.

SEEK TO SERVE™

 

 



SALESPEOPLE NEED TO FEEL INVESTED IN — NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE



Your sales team morale is worth the travel expense.

Opportunities for sales leadership to invest in their teams over the last couple years have dwindled — and sales teams have felt the effects. Rain-checked are the days when sales teams gathered at a mixer after a training event. Memories grow fuzzier of the outings to a baseball game or even, for some, the annual sales kickoff.

While salespeople’s growth and sales team morale takes a dive, sales leaders are getting rightly concerned. They risk stagnant sales performance, losing talent — or both — if they do not show their salespeople they are invested in them.

There is hope: A recent Gartner survey reveals that 73% of chief sales officers (CSOs) estimated their organization’s budgets to increase by an average of 17% this year. And 84% of these sales leaders said they planned to allocate 20% more funds to sales enablement compared to 2021 levels.

Even while restrictions are easing and budgets are growing, some B2B leadership might be tempted to continue holding tight on budgets around travel for an internal meeting. After all, travel expenses have skyrocketed, while today’s virtual business tools have already been paid for and implemented.

But the value your sales teams can gain from in-person investments outweigh the record-high travel costs — both in elevating their selling craft, and in boosting their team comradery and morale. For leadership, this investment of time and dollars translates into not only greater performance but also higher retention. Keep reading to learn how to make the most of investing in your salespeople.

INVEST IN YOUR SALESPEOPLE WHERE IT COUNTS

Focus your budget on which sales team engagements matter most. While airfare prices skyrocket, look for alternative outings and other areas to save some dollars. The point of your investment is to bring sales teams together for a boost. This is not about having the coolest, grandest outing or event at the swankest property. Just get your teams together in whatever way makes sense for your budget — and start reaping the rewards.

Merchandise your priority to invest in your sales teams. Do not just assume your salespeople will see the shift in company priority and focus. Tell them outright that you are invested — investing — in them. This signals the importance of your efforts and the future changes to expect ahead, while leaving no room for guesswork about how valuable they are to the business and to you.

Manage and reinforce sales training wisely. Many teams have been apart for the past two years, and leaders across the organization will be eager to have a spotlight in front of your salespeople. Marketing might have a rebrand they could spend hours presenting. Product teams may have rolled-out two new solutions since 2020. Jam-packing in-person events with everything will only mean overwhelmed salespeople who have under-retained information. Prioritize what is most important to focus on during in-person events, such as where demonstrations and role-plays are needed. And plan to cover what remains at future virtual follow-ups.

Do not wait too long! If your leadership team puts off investing in your salespeople for too much longer, you continue to risk losing valuable team members. Sales job openings abound. And according to HR Daily Advisor, new sales hire costs can reach upwards of $100,000, not to mention the time and efforts to fully onboard new people. Prioritize your sales teams. They need it.

THE IMPACTS OF SALES TEAM INVESTMENTS IN PRACTICE

Lisa McQueen serves as the head of sales for Sandata, a leading software service company for Medicaid providers and payers that is a portfolio company of Accel-KKR. Her team too has been facing sales turnover. On top of that, her sales force has grown since 2020, with many professionals who are new to sales and who have never had the chance to actually meet the team. Even though it was expensive, she and other Sandata leadership knew it was imperative to bring everyone together in-person as a visible investment. She engaged Mereo principal experts to help plan and execute the engagement.

“By now, everyone has become used to this virtual world. But there is massive value to pulling everyone together in-person to set the skills foundation, and some of it too is getting together for the camaraderie and shared experience. It changes the dynamic completely. Then we can use shorter virtual follow-up sessions for reinforcement that our team can engage with from a different perspective,” Lisa said.

In May, Sandata sales development representatives and sales executives met in Boston for an eight-hour workshop, an outing to a Red Sox game and a mingling event with food and drinks. Key Sandata leaders joined the meeting and provided updates, which proved to be an additional morale booster to reinforce the importance of the sales team and to provide an opportunity for salespeople to connect with leadership.

“Across the board we have gotten incredibly positive feedback from our sales development representatives and sales executives from our in-person investment,” Lisa said. “Some of the newer salespeople were blown away by the insights shared and the learnings from the time invested on sales leading practices — and our more tenured professionals appreciated the reminders and the opportunity to refocus.”

To reinforce the training program, a couple shorter virtual training sessions are being held twice a month for the next three months.

INVEST IN SUSTAINABLE SELLING SUCCESS

While you boost your sales teams’ selling skills and morale with in-person investments, also consider the power of enabling them to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™. This selling philosophy encourages salespeople to put buyers first in a selling culture that often feels void of value-exchange, authentic relationships and trust.

Download the guide to get started now.



3 B2B Books You Need to Read This Summer



The summer is a great time to learn something new or to deepen your knowledge where it matters most. Crack open a cover while vacationing at the lake. Dig into a chapter on a quiet evening on the back porch. Assign your team an inspirational read to empower them to end the year strong. Here are three titles worth adding to your to-read list.

1. Fast Start to Career Success by Ron Kurtz

In 36 tips, Ronald Kurtz can change the trajectory of your career. He has learned and applied these lessons himself, as an entrepreneur, business leader and father. Kurtz also shared these tips with his children as they were preparing to enter their careers. In fact, it was his children, Jason Kurtz and Carrie Kurtz Turner, who helped compile these tips into a full book and included examples of how they applied them or later realized their significance. Read the full story of this book’s incredible conception and creation on Jason’s LinkedIn post.

You may be thinking, “This is not my first job; I have held my position for years,” but these tips offer a chance for any business leader to learn something new or to feel inspired to reflect on career performance and opportunities for improvement. In Fast Start to Career Success, you will:

  • Gain essential tips to make the most of your own strengths
  • Navigate challenges and opportunities presented in the workplace
  • Interact successfully with others within or outside of your organization
  • Accomplish work-life balance while advancing your career

Find the book here.

2. 5 Paths to Persuasion: The Art of Selling Your Message by Robert B Miller

I reference this book often. It has been on my bookshelf for years, and it has taught me the fundamentals of conversation. The lessons learned in this book assisted me in better implementing Mereo’s Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™ philosophy by teaching me that persuasion is less about coercion and more about conviction.

5 Paths to Persuasion: The Art of Selling Your Message identifies five types of executive decision-making styles and recommends approaches that cater to charismatics, thinkers, sceptics, followers and controllers. Different executive decision-makers prefer to be presented information in different ways. This book will help show you how to identify and adjust your selling approaches to each.

Check out this title here.

3. The Road to J.O.Y.: Leading with Faith, Playing with Purpose, Leaving a Legacy by Scott Drew

Recently released, The Road to J.O.Y. is a title I am looking forward to reading this summer. Scott Drew became the head basketball coach of the NCAA National Championship–winning Baylor Bears in 2003. When he took the position, the Bears were considered one of the worst teams in college sports and were hit with a serious scandal. Drew changed that by introducing the philosophy of putting Jesus first. With Drew’s coaching, the Baylor Bears were able to beat the — once undefeated — Gonzaga Bulldogs. His methods instilled a sense of brotherhood in his team and every time they stepped on the court, they were playing for each other. As a Baylor alumnus, this book holds a special place in my heart.

This title is more than a book about basketball. Drew shares his personal experience and how leading with faith will benefit you in business and every aspect of your life. The Road to J.O.Y. outlines several guidelines for success such as:

  • Biblical principles that helped Drew lead through difficult times
  • How the “others-first” culture incited Baylor’s turnaround
  • Drew’s knowledge in investing in others
  • The lessons Drew learned in being a successful leader from his family and coaching
  • How faith is the basis for everything Drew does

Get a copy of the book here.

Grow Professionally, Personally — and Meaningfully

A final title to add to your to-read list? Look to the Mereo Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™ eBook.

In this value-packed book, I share actional steps to applying the Seek to Serve™ approach to your selling strategy. Enable your sales force to build trust and foster relationships with buyers. Instill in them a buyer-first, value selling strategy grounded in authenticity. Do not settle for quick sales that fizzle out. Gain a more-meaningful way to work and live — and win with sustainable revenue performance.

 

GET THE eBOOK



Should Sales Leaders Let In-Person Sales Training Programs ‘RIP’?



Many in the B2B industry are buzzing about the death of in-person sales training programs. But my team at Mereo has been witnessing and navigating the evolution of these in real-time over the past couple years, and right now we are starting to see a marked shift that tells a different story for the future of training.

Just last month, I joined a fellow Mereo principal for an in-person sales enablement session — this client’s second in-person engagement in 2022, with many bi-weekly virtual coaching and reinforcement sessions in-between. While all the sessions have been accomplishing the program objectives, in-person sessions have proven most effective for salespeople. Role-playing sales conversations in-person simply works better. Coaching sidebars with salespeople during breaks or over a meal are powerful.

The remote requirements of early 2020 forced B2B organizations to scramble to shift sales training programs to virtual. Today, while in-person sessions are increasingly being explored again, there are still many signs that virtual sessions will remain commonplace going forward.

There is without argument many benefits from virtual sales training. Leadership has greater flexibility with scheduling. They can save their company 30% to 70% on travel costs and lost productivity. They even can modify programs to make them work best for their sales team and needs.

This last benefit is major, because virtual programs often lack what we at Mereo have found are some of the most vital elements of sales training: opportunities to practice skills and content, accountability and reminders.

Yet, according to a recent research report by CloudShare, many organizations are cutting out the instructors who can help guide salespeople through exercises, role-plays and follow-ups. In fact, they discovered that in 2021 virtual instructor-led trainings (VILTs) decreased by 16% while self-paced programs increased by a whopping 365%.

How can your organization resurrect the best parts of in-person sales training programs while also reaping the benefits of virtual formats? We at Mereo have a tested solution. Read on to learn more.

AN IN-PERSON / VIRTUAL SALES TRAINING PROGRAM COMPROMISE

Regardless of my own inclinations toward the power of an in-person sales training program, the virtual reality of today necessitates a hybrid compromise to ensure salespeople are getting the skills and support needed to best serve your buyers. When it comes down to it, the best virtual sales training program that gets forgotten and goes unimplemented by your sales team becomes just an expensive lecture.

When your leadership is choosing or modifying its virtual sales training program, discuss how you will incorporate the following elements that are vital to ensuring greater retention and success:

  • Practice: Your salespeople will not succeed with or retain a new selling skill by consuming it on a screen alone. Period. Your leadership has to insist they practice it. Then practice it again. And, for good measure, again. These role-plays, ride-along sessions, and one-on-one and group exercises allow your salespeople to not only work out any struggles away from a prospect / buyer while gaining muscle memory for a new selling capability — but the extra effort also signals to them the importance of remembering and implementing this new skillset when out with buyers, where the pressure and stakes are higher and old habits are easier to fall back to. When you give your salespeople enough chances to practice, a new selling skill starts to become not so new.
  • Accountability: Step into your sales leadership role and help your salespeople succeed. Leaders who hold their team accountable see measurable results and positive outcomes. How will you ensure your salespeople are taking and completing your virtual trainings? What steps will you take to check they are actually engaging with the training content rather than just going through the motions or letting a recording play in the background? How will your leadership team address any struggles or failures with the new selling skills and turn them around to successes? What extra efforts will your sales leadership take to check that the training is being put into practice consistently?
  • Reminders: A lot of work remains for sales leadership after a sales training. People can only retain so much information after each session. And it is up to your leadership to let your teams know what specific information is the most important for them to remember. Set the standards and expectations as clearly as possible. Then, remind your team about these on a consistent basis, in a number of ways — both formally and informally. Take on the tough but rewarding role Chief Reminding Officer.

BUILD YOUR BEST SALES TRAINING PROGRAM

While it is tempting to try to figure out how to accomplish these vital sales training program elements within a virtual format, do not fully discount in-person just yet.

That novel in-person sales enablement session I shared at the beginning of this article? I met a number of sales leaders and former connections on that trip, some of whose travels happened to have them in that city the same week as me (hint: travel is picking up). In every conversation, each sales leader shared their intent to reconvene their teams in-person in the coming months. They plan to do so, though, while keeping a cadence of virtual sessions.

So is in-person sales training really dead? Or will it come back with a vengeance and kill off virtual sales training? No and no. Both of these training and enablement environments have proven value and an earned space into the future of B2B organizations.

To learn more about the full power of Mereo sales enablement and training programs, explore the Pitney Bowes success story.

 

LEARN MORE



13+ QUESTIONS TO ASSESS — AND OPTIMIZE — YOUR SALES ENABLEMENT PROGRAM



An effective sales enablement program requires constant attention, assessment and adjustment from leadership. There is no machine to automate the tools, resources and training for all-time. Rather sales enablement programs must continuously evolve to serve your salespeople as they, in turn, serve the changing needs and preferences of the buyer.

By asking deeper and sometimes tough questions, your sales enablement leadership can hone-in on areas that are working, that need adjustment or that need complete overhaul. Here, we provide 13 questions to get your sales enablement strategy and review sessions started.

 

Take the Full 30-Question Assessment

 

OVERALL SELLING PERFORMANCE 

  • What results has your sales team experienced this year, and how much higher or lower are these than your initial targets?
  • To what degree are all your sales teams and salespeople following the same sales process?
  • How quickly are new salespeople able to ramp to a successful level of performance?

ALIGNING THE SALES PROCESS TO THE BUYER JOURNEY

  • How is your buyer journey changing, and how is your sales process adjusting to serve that?
  • How do other operating disciplines support the sales process along the buyer journey?
  • Are your salespeople equipped with relevant tools and resources for every conversation and stage of the buyer journey? Why / why not?
  • How can your leadership hold your salespeople accountable to a consistent process?

SALES SKILLS AND TECHNIQUES

  • How well do your salespeople understand the buyer’s pains your solution is solving? Equally important, do your salespeople understand and know your solution well enough to answer your buyers’ questions in a manner that aligns the buyer’s pains and your differentiated value proposition?
  • How effective are your salespeople at employing your differentiated value messaging when talking with prospects and buyers?
  • What specific value selling skills and behaviors are most important to your organization and to serve your target buyer (i.e., what will your leadership focus on to reinforce)?
  • How is your leadership team regularly reinforcing vital value selling skills and behaviors?

SALES-READY ASSETS

  • In what ways are your sales and marketing teams aligned on your ideal target buyer, your value messaging and your buyer journey? In what ways are they mis-aligned?
  • Do salespeople use the tools marketing provides — or are your salespeople still wasting their time creating / re-creating these on their own? Why / why not?

ASSESS AND PROGRESS YOUR SALES ENABLEMENT PROGRAM

A final question: How often does your leadership team assess the effectiveness of your sales enablement program?

Do not waste your organization’s time and resources — nor your prospects’ and buyers’. An optimized sales enablement program, according to Aberdeen Research, can boost your salespeople’s performance from about half to more than 84% meeting their quotas.

For more guidance to assess and improve your sales enablement program, download the full 30+ question assessment checklist. For an outside expert perspective to help grade the current state of your program and to guide your next steps for betterment, please contact us

 

Take the Full 30-Question Assessment

 



3 Paths to Organizational Alignment — Leading to Sustainable Revenue Performance



At my alma mater, every Baylor Bear — student, professor, athlete, fan and spectator — acts with respect, support and honor. It is a code, the values, we Baylor Bears adhere to as a member of the Baylor Family, because being a Baylor Bear means we get to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We get to take part in traditions like running the Baylor Line, lighting Pat Neff green, heckling the right fielder from the “berm boys seats” or singing the Good ‘Ol Baylor Line. We win when our teams win, and, while we do not lose much (at least over the last decade plus), we lose when our teams lose. We find community and purpose that lasts a lifetime. The Baylor Family is a culture, it is a purpose and it is a calling.

Every sports team has this unity — and B2B organizations also possess this culture and strategy. Yet, unlike college sports teams that consistently “bleed,” for example, green and gold — many organizations remain fragmented across organizational disciplines and / or geographies.

This issue cannot be left unsolved for many reasons. A main driver for change: Forrester has found that highly aligned companies grow 19% faster, while being 15% more profitable.

Organizational alignment does not happen overnight. It takes a dedicated, conscious effort and commitment. Here are the main avenues we at Mereo focus on with clients to rapidly foster organizational alignment — and the benefits that follow.

3 INTERSECTING PATHS FOR ORGANIZATIONAL ALIGNMENT

Organizational alignment starts at the executive level. Who has a say in the foundations that govern the whole operation? How do they represent the different segments of your organization, and how do they contribute? How often? And how does this allow for buy-in across operational disciplines, geographies and departments that cascades down to teams?

>> Opportunities to align: Strategy Development Workshops, Operational Design Workshops, Sales Enablement Sessions, Sales Kickoff Planning and Event

Then, the foundations the executive board sets must be shared and embraced across your organization. How can you drive common processes and procedures? In what ways has your organization developed consistent tools and made these accessible to the important functions? To what degree does everyone in your organization understand and agree on the target audience, the value proposition, the ins and outs of your solution and brand?

>> Opportunities to align: Value Messaging Workshops, Innovation / Solution Roadmap Workshops, Marketing Campaign Theme Development, Ideal Client Profile Alignment, Sales Tool Creation, Formal Go-to-Market Strategy and Process

Lastly, this alignment should permeate through a unified culture that informs everyone on how to behave. While competition can be healthy and necessary within organizations, what unifies everyone — from sales to marketing to product to even human resource and other supporting departments? What are your shared goals and values? How are these expressed through a shared language, events, leadership consistency and accountability?

>> Opportunities to align: A Chief Reminding Officer Leadership Approach, Corporate and Team-Building Events, Corporate Language Cues, Accountability Disciplines and Incentive Programs

AN INSPIRATION FOR ORGANIZATIONAL ALIGNMENT

See the power of organizational alignment in practice. Learn how Mereo supported cloud-based ERP software provider Nextworld align its leadership and operations to enter its market as a leader.

 

THE POWER OF ORGANIZATIONAL ALIGNMENT

 



SUCCESSFUL DATA-DRIVEN SELLING ORGANIZATIONS FOCUS ON PEOPLE — NOT TECHNOLOGY



In the early 2000s, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane and assistant general manager Peter Brand replaced all their star baseball players. Why?, many demanded to know. They were responding to the insights from a data-driven strategy called “sabermetrics.”

Sabermetrics had been around for a few decades already. But Oakland Athletics leadership had applied this statistical approach with such success and commitment, this once-underdog baseball team made the playoffs for four straight seasons.

The potential of a data-driven approach has not been lost on selling organizations. In a NewVantage Partners report, almost all responding B2B executives indicated they were increasing the pace of their investments in big data and AI. Yet selling organizations are still struggling to transform to actual data- and insights-driven cultures and processes.

In fact, despite increased investments in data technology, identifying data-driven firms have been on the decline from 37.1% in 2017 to 32.4% in 2018 to 31% in 2019. The struggle is not with adopting the technology. People and process issues continue to create barriers to transformation.

To transform your selling organization successfully into the data-driven age, your leadership must focus less on the technology and more on the humans. Successful cultural and process adoption comes down to steadfast leadership, organizational alignment and effective sales enablement. Only then will you see your teams translating insights into actions — into successful outcomes for both your organization and its buyers.

GROW INTELLIGENTLY

Data-driven selling is not some fleeting trend. Decisions and actions based on data and insights continue to be mostly superior to those based on intuition, emotion and experience alone. And the proof of the success insights-driven companies realize are compelling in and of themselves:

  • Forrester found in a 2021 study that insights-driven organizations are 8.5 times more likely to report at least 20% year-over-year growth.
  • Salesforce research uncovered that high-performing salespeople are 2.8 times more likely to use AI-enabled tools than lower-performing salespeople.
  • McKinsey insights show that B2B companies are realizing the most growth from data analytics and AI in lead generation, people management, maximizing buyer lifetime value and pricing.

Selling insights are not some internal trick up your organization’s sleeve either. They can also help you better Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™ for the benefit of your buyers too. With greater insights into buyers and their needs, sales teams can optimize solutions and the buyer’s journey. Sales leadership can align sellers to territories more effectively. While salespeople get insight into how best to use their time and skills, they target organizations that are more in sync with your ideal client profile, they end up wasting less of both their and unqualified leads’ time, and they, ultimately, convert more leads to opportunities and more pursuits to wins. Connections become more meaningful, and value-exchange increases and can be repeatable.

INSPIRE A DATA-DRIVEN SELLING CULTURE THAT SERVES — INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY

Amassing data — and even taking the essential next step of extracting the key insights — are useless unless sellers take action based on them, for the right Seek to Serve reasons.

The Oakland Athletics would not have found success with their data-based strategy if Beane and Brand had not actually made decisions based on the statistical insights. They easily could have faltered under the criticisms of peers who were adamant about staying in the status quo. But they did not. They led the way to a new winning culture and approach for their organization.

For selling organizations, this requires leadership to drive the adoption, the organization to align to this new approach, and sales to be enabled with the right insights and resources.

  • Consistent Leadership and Accountability: In the noted research, many companies that had been finding success with a data-driven selling approach did so when their leadership strongly advocated and led the adoption of insights top-down. Learn more about how to adopt the Chief Reminding Officer Approach for effective leadership.
  • Organizational Alignment: Sales, marketing and product teams need access to your selling data and, more importantly, the insights your leadership extracts from it to inform decisions. Then, make sure your teams are talking to each other about how they are and should be translating the data, and keep refining from there. This cross-discipline organizational oversight will help teams continue to provide the most value for one another — and for your buyer. Learn more to close the gap.
  • Sales Enablement: It is never enough to just create a selling resource or tool — nor even to advocate for its use as a leader. You need to enable your selling teams to actually use the resource as your leadership intends and as best serves your buyer. Learn more about the must-have elements in a sales enablement program.

INFUSE SELLING INSIGHTS INTO YOUR ORGANIZATION TO DRIVE SUSTAINABLE REVENUE PERFORMANCE

Apply your insights to the people who matter the most: your buyers. Contact us for support in developing your ideal client profile as a critical first step to aligning your organization and empowering your buyer-facing professionals.

 

LET’S DEFINE YOUR BUYER

 



Reuniting Your Salesforce: 3 Ways to Make Realtime Count



Sales teams are ready to make it real again. Whether your teams are reuniting for a face-to-face sales kickoff event or to resume daily office life — or a hybrid option in-between — leadership will be able to take advantage of benefits beyond the virtual screen. Here are some of the greatest opportunities in-person provides that can help boost your organization’s revenue performance.

CAPITALIZE ON OPPORTUNITIES TO REINFORCE — AND REMIND

When you have your team back in-person, you gain greater flexibility and more chance moments to reinforce key training skills and behaviors you expect from your team. You have better oversight to their performance. You also have more opportunity for casual, no-meeting-required moments to provide meaningful feedback with your team.

An effective leader knows how to pick the most important behaviors or skills to reinforce. Thought leader Paul Stansik and I discussed this in a recent expert Q&A on the Chief Reminding Officer. How and when a leader reminds varies, though.

Accountability often is a struggle for leaders. According to a Harvard Business Review report, one out of every two managers fails at accountability. But for those worried about crossing the line of reminding into nagging, Stansik offers this advice:

First, leaders must set clear, targeted standards. Then they need to support their team to meet those standards. With that, leaders will have earned the right to provide targeted and thoughtful reminding when their people fall short of the standards.

BRIDGE GAPS BETWEEN OPERATING DISCIPLINES

Face-to-face allows your selling organization to bridge its operational gaps — literally. This is important because alignment between sales, marketing and product teams remains a pressing issue for selling organizations. HubSpot research found one in four companies believe their sales and marketing teams are “misaligned” or “rarely aligned.” A research study by Allego even found that sales reps lack answers to 40% of buyer questions about the solution they are selling.

Large gains come from alignment. Marketo and Reachforce found that organizations are 67% better at closing deals with aligned teams. While virtual allows members of your essential operational teams to come together in strategy meetings and otherwise, in-person allows for greater rapport, collaboration and engagement where essential insights and tools can be openly shared.

Encourage your team to work together by setting the right expectations and priorities. Schedule monthly or quarterly informal cross-departmental meetings where sales can share feet-on-the-ground stories that would benefit marketing and product to hear. Let product and marketing teams share market pulse insights. Encourage others to ask questions or provide feedback. When you bridge the gaps, your organization’s goals come together.

STRENGTHEN COMPANY CULTURE AND MORALE

More and more, company culture matters to employees. According to the recent McKinsey Employee Experience survey, employees who have regular positive experiences at work are 16 times more engaged and 8 times more likely to stay with an organization than those who do not. Beyond that, employees will put in their all for a company they believe in, feel valued by and want to be part of.

In-person, leadership can foster an inspiring and motivating company culture and help boost their team’s morale through:

  • GREATER MEANING AND PURPOSE: Texas A&M psychologist Anthony Klotz has found previous high turnover has been a response born from the great disruptive experience of the pandemic. Consider how you can Seek to Serve™ your employees beyond the dollar and foster a meaningful culture beyond selling.
  • EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE: An employee experience management strategy can help provide your employees — and leadership — the purpose, growth opportunities and drive to best serve your business and its buyers, while your people feel like your organization is best serving them. Learn more here.
  • GRATITUDE: According to a survey by Glassdoor, 81% of professionals said they would be willing to work harder for an appreciative leader. Learn how to incorporate this skillset into your leadership style.

Many businesses have already gotten back together or on the verge of getting back together in-person. If your organization is one of them, how are your teams going to make the most of this roll-back? Share with your fellow business leaders in a comment on LinkedIn.



THE VALUE PROPOSITION FORMULA TO WIN AN UNFAIR SHARE™ OF THE MARKET



As most sophisticated selling organizations know: A value proposition is an essential sales enablement tool. At its simplest, this is your messaging for why a buyer needs a solution and why they should choose your solution over the competition.

Yet, not all value propositions are created equal. And not all salespeople stick to the carefully prepared message strategy either. In a recent survey of 330 sales and marketing leaders, in fact, 70% said their salespeople tended to stray off-message during buyer conversations.

Moreover, a private equity firm Mereo supports surveyed the CEOs, Heads of Sales and Heads of Marketing across their portfolio companies about the top challenges they are battling in their go-to-market efforts. They discovered their portfolio companies struggled most with value proposition and value selling skills (tied for first at 52% of respondents). In a session with the leaders, it was clear these two are inextricably linked and often have downstream impacts in Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV) and Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) through time to revenue positive for new hire onboarding, pricing power, competitive win-rates and more.

At Mereo, we excel at not only crafting differentiated value propositions that work — but also helping leadership train and enable their sales teams to apply this essential tool across all the value conversations of a buying journey. We have supported private equity investment firm Accel-KKR with this. We have done the same for SaaS organization Castellan — and also cloud-based ERP software provider Nextworld, among many others. Their outcomes have been substantial. So could your selling organization’s gains. How do we do it? Here is a peek behind the playbook cover.

THE MEREO DIFFERENTIATED VALUE PROPOSITION FORMULA

The story a value proposition builds distinguishes world-class sellers from the rest. CSO Insights found that 93% of world-class selling organizations indicated they clearly understand their buyer’s issues before proposing a solution — compared to just 48% of all organizations. Salespeople cannot just dive into a script of what makes your solution so great and expect buyers to agree. They need to build a compelling story that puts your buyer front and center as the main character.

The three elements required in order for this to work include (1) a buyer pain, (2) why your solution best overcomes that pain, and (3) the outcome a buyer can expect from implementing your solution.

This compelling value proposition story helps buyers justify their purchase — first to themselves, then to their peers and other stakeholders, and eventually to the key decision-makers. It builds urgency and helps buyers recognize a problem that might have become status quo — while being handed a specific solution to overcome it.

Creating a differentiated value proposition is just part of the formula, though. The best-crafted value proposition remains worthless without a skilled and enabled sales team to deliver it to the intended buyer audience.

EFFECTIVE VALUE PROPOSITION TRAINING AND ENABLEMENT PROGRAMS

Imparting a value proposition to your sales teams at the sales kickoff (or through another sales training effort) alone is not enough. Just like the top-performing athlete, top-performing salespeople need continuous training and reinforcement. Your leadership needs to give your sales teams opportunities to apply the value proposition to real-world scenarios. Train them on the messaging and different techniques. More importantly, though, give them opportunities to practice in role-plays and ride-alongs. Dissect real-world successes and failures with buyers at regular meetings and help your teams adjust.

Great sales leaders support salespeople with consistent feedback, reinforcement and accountability. The most effective leaders take on the Chief Reminding Officer approach, knowing how to pick the most important sales behaviors and how to reinforce these consistently for real change.

BUILD YOUR OWN WINNING VALUE PROPOSITION

Put the insights into practice. Download the Mereo Value Proposition Worksheet to start developing your own differentiated value proposition and enablement plan!

 

POSITION YOUR MESSAGING LIKE A WORLD-CLASS SELLER