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


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 - “The Year of Business Value”

As you and your team kickoff the New Year, there are some important research findings you should factor into your 2017 sales enablement and content strategy.

From SiriusDecisions research, we learn that:
  • 59% of your sales reps are predicted to not attain their quota goals in 2017
  • 71% of executives indicate that the quota shortfall isn’t due to a lack of enough qualified leads, lack of social selling skills, or too little sales training, but an “inability for sales reps to effectively articulate differentiating value”
  • And this Value Gap issue has been persistent, as the top quota challenge for the past six years.
Despite these challenges, most organizations are not investing enough time and effort into their value messaging and selling initiatives, with 60% of companies indicating their programs need improvement, or moreover, a major redesign.

Unfortunately, you can’t leave Business Value / ROI to chance. The facts are that:
  • Customers will significantly delay decisions and won’t get to “Yes” unless you help them understand and quantify your differentiating value
  • Sales will struggle in communicating and quantifying your unique value without your providing provocative value messaging, tools and consulting support.
The good news, the research is crystal clear. Those that get Business Value / ROI selling “right” can overcome these challenges and reap significant rewards. Based on independent research from MHI Global / CSO Insights, taking your value marketing and selling to the next level can:
  • Reduce the number of deals ending in “No Decision” by 30%
  • Improve win rates to 51% (a 40% improvement)
  • Boost the number of sales reps meeting / beating quota to 69% and increasing the average annual revenue attainment to 87%.

What does a great Business Value / ROI selling program look like?

As you look to elevate your Business Value / ROI selling capabilities, these are the seven habits we see from the best Value marketing and selling practices:
  1. Engage early – Not waiting until asked for a business case, instead use diagnostic assessments, benchmarking and value communication and quantification proactively and early in each engagement.
  2. Go beyond the numbers – Realizing that the numbers are there to support the unique value story, not to be the story unto itself.
  3. Cover more and scale better – Leveraging value in more than just the largest deals. Arm your customers with the tools they need to assess themselves (as many prospects don’t want to engage with sales) and expand the value selling / ROI programs by getting sales reps and channel partners to participate, without the need to have a value consultant engaged in supporting the approach with each prospect, or isolated to just the largest deals.
  4. Consistently deliver – Implementing value communication and quantification, from marketing and inside sales, to channel, partner and account execs, to business consultants and value engineers. The best programs start with a solid Value Messaging & Quantification Framework, and to that, add a standardized set of interactive value marketing, sales and consulting tools and engagement methodology, so everyone knows the prescribed method for engaging, and content is leveraged and not recreated for each deal.
  5. Build trust – Providing 3rd party insights and research, customer case studies and proof points helps validate potential results with prospects and drive credibility.
  6. Certify – Educating and certifying sales reps, channel partners and consultants on the engagement model, tools, delivery and conversations, and providing support and coaching on an ongoing basis to assure the certified skills are being applied.
  7. Measure and improve –Tracking the adoption and use of tools and practices, and the impact that the approach has on sales success, measuring win rate improvements (vs. competition and “do nothing”), reduced discounting / deal size improvements, sales cycle acceleration, quota achievement and on-boarding acceleration. Leveraging customer intelligence data gathered from each engagement to deliver new and unique insights, benchmarks and advice.
Sources:
2017 – The Year B2B Sales Reps Can Finally Sell Value? - SiriusDecisions
Decoding the Decision Dynamic - MHI Global
The Frugalnomics Survival Guide - How to Use Your Unique Value to Market Better, Stand Out and Sell More


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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Getting you Ready for the New Year: The Best of 2016

As we enter the New Year, a look back at what we can learn from the most popular Frugalnomics Survival Guide articles of 2016:

Gartner: buyers Demand Less Pitch, More Value-Story  

According to a study from Gartner, most solution providers are not providing what buyers need when it comes to content and sales engagements.

See the results from the survey of over 350 decision makers...

Read more
http://blog.alinean.com/2016/03/buyers-demand-less-product-pitch-more.html


The Winner: Interactive Content Ignites Demand and Fuels Engagement

Business buyers are increasingly overwhelmed by the amount of content available, and as a result, extremely selective about the content they consume.

The research is clear: if you don’t build the right strategy, your content may be left out in the cold...

Learn more
http://blog.alinean.com/2016/01/the-winner-interactive-content-ignites.html


The Importance of Getting Value Selling Right

If you think your clients are more ROI focused, and that your ability to deliver financial justification can assure greater success, new research proves you right.

See what the research says you should do now to assure success....

Read more
http://blog.alinean.com/2016/01/the-importance-of-getting-roi-selling.html