Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Engaging Earlier and Higher with Financial Peer Comparisons

A common mantra for many sales strategies is to "Engage earlier and higher".  So does this strategy have real merit, and if so, how do you best enable your sales reps to be successful?

Does the early bird really get the worm?
First, does it really make a difference if sales reps engage earlier? 

Although buyers leverage digital more than ever in their decision making process, and as a result appear to engage with reps later in the decision making process (up to 57% of the way through), sales reps still have a big impact, ESPECIALLY if they can intersect early in the buyer’s journey, and with value.

According to Forrester, the early bird still catches the worm, with a significant 74% of all deals going to the provider who helps "establish the buying vision", while only 26% goes to the vendor who "responds to a request" and wins the bake-off.

During the earliest phases of the buyer’s journey, the buyer has yet to have an "epiphany" and need help understanding their issues, prioritizing challenges and exploring possible solutions, and it is here that sales reps can be vital and make a significant difference in ultimate win rates.

Come on, get higher?
Second, does engaging higher really make a difference? We have learned over the past 2 years that there are more stakeholders involved in the typical B2B buying decision, 5.4 according to CEB, and that this has made consensus selling more important than ever before.

Perhaps equally important is the increasing role of executives in the decision making process, with:
  • 65% of C-suite executives now “actively engaged” in the buying decision making processes (MHI Global)
  • 80% of all purchasing budgets now controlled by line-of-business or C-suite executives (IDC).

As they get more involved and rest control of the process, it is important to understand just how different these executive buyers are. The typical approach you would use with a manager or procurement, just don’t cut it.

Execs don’t want a sales rep that shows-up and throws-up.  Your reps need to leave the feature / price pitch at home. Executives value business and industry insight up to four times more than traditional product / service knowledge and expect their sales reps to engage with this in mind. (SiriusDecisions)

What a Buyer Wants, What a Buyer Needs?
So when your sales reps are good (or lucky) enough to score an exec meeting, so essential to win rates and ultimate sales success, the execution is less than stellar. Sales reps are flat out not prepared to create value for executive buyers.

Executive buyers indicate that a paltry 20% of the salespeople they meet with are successful in achieving their expectations and creating value. As a result, only one in four of these salespeople get agreement from executive buyers to meet again.

According to this research from Forrester, 62% of salespeople who call on them are knowledgeable about their products and services, but only 42% are knowledgeable about the business and 24% understand their business issues.

Most valued by the executive, according to Forrester’s survey of 400+ exec buyers:
  1. The salesperson who clearly shows they understand the execs business issues and can clearly articulate how to solve them (68%)
  2. A meeting that helps the executive think about how to solve a business problem (55%)
  3. The salesperson who shares unique insights that the exec didn’t consider before (50%).

And CXO buyers rely heavily on peers – both in collaboration and in comparison. Colleagues, personal networks and third-party experts are all leveraged to form opinions about what to buy, and execs are actively seeking content and advice on how to compete more effectively. (SiriusDecisions)

Enabling Your Reps for Executive Conversations for Success
For most, there is clearly a value gap, between what Execs want (unique insights, competitive intelligence and diagnostics / advice on issues), and what sales reps are comfortable and capable at delivering (product / service pitches and demos). As a results:
  • Executives don’t have a compelling reason to meet with sales reps, especially in the early of the buyer’s journey
  • Precious executive engagements are falling short of buyer expectations, relegating your reps to procurement / tactical level decision makers.

What if you were able to arm sales reps with compelling industry and business insights to engage earlier and higher, with a quick and easy way to:
  • Create a financial and business analysis for any company they are visiting
  • Deliver comparisons to named competitors (from a global database of 50,000+)
  • Form visualizations to quickly and clearly illustrate where the company is leading or lagging their peers and industry across 20+ key executive performance metrics
  • Empower their financial acumen with embedded tip help and advice
  • Deliver a “move the needle” analysis, to show how small improvements in key metrics could drive big improvements and incredible business value?

If you want to engage earlier and higher, our brand-new Peer Comparison Tool could be the data-driven Tool you need to reshape your executive conversations and engagement effectiveness, today.

Click here to learn more and get your free trial:
http://alinean.com/peer-comparison-tool/

Checkout the on-demand webcast w/ Tom Pisello here: https://youtu.be/FpHswbQOdKU


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