B2B decision makers have often been akin to the Viking warriors centered behind a shield wall. Inaccessible. Discharge as many shiny solutions at them and they ping off the heavily laden armor to elsewhere.
According to a past Objective Management Group analysis, only 1% of salespeople new to sales — those often with the onus of sales development — can get past the shield of gatekeepers to access decision makers. Only 1%! With the same analysis, though, their more-seasoned sales peers struggled, too, accessing decision makers 46% of the time when procurement was included and just 13% when not.
This has shifted since the COVID-19 disruption. Decision makers were suddenly 2.2 times more likely to join a sales cycle meeting and became more engaged in online channels. In fact, C-suite participation in sales engagements increased 108% in 2021. Just as quickly as your salespeople could progress toward a deal, though, the wall re-emerged. Research has shown that decision maker participation drops by 81% from the first sales engagement to the second.
Why is it so hard to access — and maintain access to — the executives calling the shots at your target B2B organizations? How can you better enable and prepare your salespeople for the “battle” beyond the shield wall? We at Mereo have experience enabling selling teams with the right knowledge, tools and approach. And we are sharing what has worked for our clients here.
TO ACCESS A DECISION-MAKER, FIRST IDENTIFY A DECISION MAKER
Only 31% of sales organizations, according to CSO Insights, effectively identify and access decision makers. Thus many salespeople approach organizations blindly. This is a problem for so many reasons but namely because high-level executives making the calls have much different priorities than others within the company. They also have less time and less patience for ambiguity and irrelevance.
Your marketing and sales leadership needs to first understand who makes the buying decisions at your target buyer organizations and what challenges matter most to them as it pertains to your solution. Then use this information to create marketing campaigns and related sales enablement tools. For example, empower your sales force with a Power Profile™ target buyer sheet. Take the time in a sales meeting or sales training to educate and equip everyone on the different levels of buyer within an organization and how to speak differently to each of them.
Identifying and accessing decision makers is just the first step, though. Once your salespeople have honed in on the right people and manage to get through any barriers, they need to have the right messaging and tools in order to captivate their attention wholly.
AN ELEVATED BUYER DEMANDS AN ELEVATED VALUE MESSAGE
Today’s decision makers are desperate for more value and support from their sales account executives as they journey toward a solution. They want sellers to help them build a business case — to help them overcome their internal objections or any external naysaying they may run into with peers. They want ongoing advice and a unique perspective from an expert trusted advisor.
When your salespeople manage to engage a decision maker, too, they must be prepared with the right talking points and framing. You want your salespeople to be able to expertly:
- Show the prospect you understand their business challenges and opportunities — this is where the conversation MUST start.
- Deliver innovative insights and ideas.
- Address uncomfortable status quos, difficult pains — and the gains that could result if they were conquered.
- Speak to your solution’s value and differentiation.
- Offer to support the executive through a more extensive engagement with the executive’s team and a joint readout with the team on observations and recommendations.
The Mereo differentiated value proposition formula worksheet can help your leadership build out effective messaging to engage decision makers in these targeted, high-value conversations.