2022 gave us the inflection point within the B2B sales and marketing crisis. 2023 feels like we’re in the eye of the storm.
Are you making the changes required to outperform the industry? …outperform your closest competitor, …achieve your growth objectives?
Let’s take a look at some of the facts that;
🙅 "Buyers named cold-calling (64%) as the number one reason they are less likely to buy a product from a brand" (TrustRadius)
🙅 "For 64% of B2B professionals email is the least preferred channel" (HubSpot)
🤦 Buyers complete between "57%" (Gartner & CEB) & "90%" (Forrester) of their buying cycle before making themselves known.
🙅 "Only 14% of buyers views vendor-produced marketing collateral as useful" (TrustRadius)
"Only 5% of our ICP is in-market" (Gartner), why don’t companies put as much effort into empowering employees to build relationships with the other 95%, so when they are in market they’re more likely to choose them.
- It’s harder for buyers to buy than ever before. With more than 50% of 'deals' being lost to the status quo due to buyers failing to build consensus effectively with stakeholders to obtain support to make or mobilise a purchase decision.
Recent example; I've been working with a MarTech client who found a retail prospect of theirs, the buyer of which they have known for years, made a decision to leave their incumbent provider more than 18 months ago but hasn't been able to. Why? They didn’t know know how to calculate the cost of inaction and the value of fixing the long list of problems related to a) the incumbent platform and b) internal roadblocks. After helping them identify the KPI’s to use to calculate this, and a few calls with key stakeholders discussing the roadblocks, the feedback received was, “wow, I was not expecting that. I feel re-energised and excited about the task ahead this year. I’m looking forward to concluding this exercise with you”.
How many sellers focus on solving the problem that is preventing them moving the buying motion forward?
‘Most buyers know what they want and what they need to do, but they don’t know how to obtain the support from stakeholders within their own organisation to achieve it.’
Before we look at buyer and seller alignment the undeniable number one leading indicator of success in sales is the strength of relationship between seller and buyer.
Ensuring the sales team have deep and meaningful relationships with their target audience is easier said than done, especially when;
- Team structure isn’t conducive of this; with corporate content being created by marketing and used by sales development and demand generation - unco-ordinated use of content can feel confusing to a potential buyer.
- KPI’s encourage selling too early.
- Shuffling the deck; when territories or the personnel are changed, leaving relationships lost.
- Sales are too busy managing deals and don’t have time to build relationships with their target audience.
Territory size isn’t the answer to the relationship question. It can go someway to address this challenge but does not solve the core problem. Smaller territories typically mean larger deal sizes, more stakeholders to influence and more time to manage the complexity that comes with it - you still need to work at building relationships with large groups of people.
Larger territories are difficult to cover effectively and without a digital sales methodology, being visible and personable at scale is impossible.
Both problems within each targeting strategy can be solved, but we’ll get to that shortly.
Here are 9 considerations for sales and marketing leaders when designing or evaluating your sales motion;
Buyers are highly unlikely to buy from a sales rep unless there is a feeling of trust, and most sales reps have developed this relationship superpower, to build trust easily. But some struggle with being over-familiar, which has a negative effect on the buyer.
"The business problem today is that sales reps are not getting into enough conversations to activate their relationship building superpower. With 95-99% of a territory not in market for the solution you sell, businesses must rethink traditional methods of building awareness and nurture as these no longer work."
By; All Sales & Marketing Leaders
Things technology vendors do that make people less likely to buy:
- Cold Calling - #1 (biggest reason a buyer won't buy from a vendor)
- Sales emails - #5
- Online advertising - #8
Buyers hide from sellers, with 72% surveyed saying they prefer a rep free sales experience. Buyers are happy to speak with experts or non-sales looking folks on social and in groups asking open questions about problems and solutions they feel an affinity to or trust.
Sales people need to look and act differently today. Buyers smell a sales message a mile off and nothing is ever sold in a message or brochure so why bother selling. Work at building a meaningful relationship first and foremost, until trust is earned.
Develop personal brand - when your target audience see you on socials you want them to reach the conclusion you want them to. Having a buyer centric profile will increase the likelihood that a buyer will search and find you, and walk towards you. 75% of company research is done on social media, make sure YOU can be found as the expert that also looks interesting to chat with.
Namos, a client of ours signed a £2.8M deal as a result of this.
Activate and grow network - building a digital network across multiple social and digital platforms is the black book of the modern professional. Most are in take mode as opposed to giving mode therefore struggle to create a community of contacts that see them and walk towards them. Ask yourself the question; what can I do for my network today? And I don’t mean invite them to another webinar or send them the next piece of vendor insight.
Network growth and the level of activity within your networking is a leading indicator of success, whether sales, marketing, customer success or HR for new employment opportunities. To achieve commercial objectives network growth must be a daily if not, a weekly activity.
"Be visible in your accounts. If connected to less than ten people in any account you’re invisible!"
The only way to build deep and meaningful relationships with key stakeholders within an account is to connect as deep and as wide as possible across the organisation your targeting.
Learn to create compelling content - something not everyone is comfortable with or feel they’re capable of doing. Activating the muscle in the brain that supports creativity may take some time.
While there are many components of creativity, including originality, pleasure, value, process, and imagination, the definition that scientists use to study creativity puts those components together to say that creativity is an ability to produce something that is both novel (or original) and has utility (is valuable to someone). This definition allows scientists to develop a testable hypotheses about how creativity arises from the human brain - we can all do it.
Creating a variety of content types including human, authentic and personal content will keep your audience interested, feel like they know you and most likely to engage.
2. Current challenge
Identify the business problem you're trying to solve. The new sales motion can be designed with current buyer motion challenges in mind. It could well be that parts of the sales motion need improving, as opposed to a full design/redesign.
- Struggling to get into new conversations
- Struggling to teach a potential buyer a new perspective
- Unable to validate the reasoning behind the purchase criteria which should form the basis of a purchase decision
- Struggling to convince the buyer to invest time in exploring alternatives
- Struggling to help buyers build consensus
- Unable to quantify the differentiating commercial value we provide and how it compares to alternative options
Identifying these challenges will inform which sales assets to create and enable your teams on.
3. Strategic priorities
What are the strategic priorities that need to be achieved this year and next (future years). Ensure the design of the sales motion and related assets are thought about with clearly defined commercial objectives in mind.
- Relationship strength with target market (this should be one!)
- Pipeline growth
- Time to pipeline
- Close rate
- Time to close
- New business & expansion / renewal
4. Modern buyer motion
What are the stages buyers go through, from realisation of pain and understanding the problem, all the way through to realising value, solving the problem.
5. Buyer milestones sales can influence
Identify key milestones the buyer must navigate to realise value at the same time supporting the evaluation of alternative options.
6. Sales assets aligned to improving buyer motion
Once the key buyer milestones have been identified and understood it’s possible to design assets that support the buyer achieving them. Assets that are used by the seller to guide and inform your buyer.
7. Guided sales path
To improve sales effectiveness design a guided sales path and coaching plan that aligns to both sales rep and buyer milestones - include each behaviour that will increase the probability of a positive commercial outcome for seller and buyer. Doing this will provide reps with the ability to self coach and make it easier to coach reps and for reps to coach buyers through to value realisation. And it will create a true understanding of where a deal really is in the buying process and increase accuracy of forecasting.
8. KPI’s - are you measuring behaviours that increase your probability for success?
When the buyer milestones are understood, measure your reps ability to coach your buyer to and through them. Coaching your reps to perform these activities to their highest level will move the needle when it comes to close rate, time to close and AOV.
9. People and process alignment
Leadership across different disciplines will be fundamental to the design of the approach. Alignment when executing will by vital for success. Map out the steps, roles and responsibilities with the buyer experience top of mind.
Buyer feeling, the experience provided and level of trust created will be your competitive advantage in 2023!
How do you know when to review your sales motion?
I would say it’s obvious. When pipeline is getting harder to generate, quality of pipeline is dropping, close rates and AOV’s falling then it’s time.
You might want to start with qualifying how buyer centric your organisation is. People buy from people the know, like and trust. Is your marketing and sales team focusing on the experience created and subsequent feeling this provides to potential buyers. Is your enablement of sales reps and customer success reps aligned to this.
Score your organisation and each department based on how buyer centric they are. And include your buyer in the process.
I’d welcome connecting and exploring how we might help on your journey to improving sales and marketing performance. Just drop me a DM or connect on the socials below.
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