The best go to market strategies fail without an equally good execution plan.
Execution is often focused on messaging and activities, and misses linking all components of the GTM to buyer and rep behaviour. An operating model that combines the collection of elements around rep and buyer behaviours - where the rubber touches the road - around a single narrative withe clearly understand value proposition, will deliver consistent and sustainable growth.
Do you have a core message, an overarching narrative for the business that is easy to understand and reframes the customers mind what you do, the problems they face and how you solve them?
Are you able to break that down and carry it into the differentiating value you provide as part of your value proposition and that every touchpoint you have with the prospect is reaffirming that value, using the overarching narrative that uniquely differentiates your value proposition.
Are you able to position a set of options to your prospect, and your differentiation within that set and where you’re better and uniquely placed to deliver value, to reframe your customers thinking.
Value selling is often thought of as an approach for sellers to use to improve win rates and AOV’s when in fact a good value selling approach becomes the operating system for revenue generation as a whole, from pipeline creation, leveraging your teams authentic selves through to teaching customers new perspectives and winning hearts and minds that translate to new business, expansion and renewal.
Should I be using a well known sales approach like Challenger, MEDDICC or Miller Heiman? Yes, quite possibly, however these are sales approaches, each quite different from the other and do not provide your teams with an operating system that combines all elements of your GTM.
A good value selling operating system has your ideal buyer in mind with every behaviour and is geared towards achieving positive commercial outcomes for both you and your customer.
Rather than reinvent the wheel you may want to optimise the system you’re already using, though in order to create an engine that produces consistent growth over time each item is intertwined with the other ensuring a multiplicative effect. Below are a selection of considerations, things that have worked well for me in the past, when building a revenue team focused on growth, new business, expansion and renewals.
Qualify how buyer centric you are today.
Before getting started I recommend you consider your buyer and how your current approach makes them feel. If gaining the trust of your buyer is an imperative then everything you do, across sales, marketing, CSM and services should be geared towards building and maintaining trust. Creating a value exchange with every customer interaction and ensuring progressive steps are made on the path to value are key elements of this. Ask your teams, how buyer centric they are?
Remember to ask your buyer. They will tell you exactly how they feel and the impact your approach has on them.
Frame the buyer journey
Your approach requires perspective and in this case it’s the buyer, the individual or individuals within your customer that influence a purchase decision. Quite simply these individuals will either have a need or they won’t. When they don’t, the focus should be on qualifying the buyer type. Do they have enough influence within the organisation and are motivated enough to drive change. Once you’re satisfied they have or that they can involve the folks with influence it’s important to assertively reach a compelling enough value exchange around solving their biggest pains and achieving their objectives before positioning the next steps (an evaluation period). When your buyer already has a need, if you haven’t built a relationship and degree of trust then this should be the primary objective. Not to sell anything but to build trust. How you do this requires skill.
Here’s an example of buyer milestones, steps a buyer goes through at some point in their purchase journey (and not necessarily linear steps).
- Awareness of a problem to solve
- Realisation that this is a priority
- Define the objective, the pain that needs solving and approximate vale of solving.
- Explore alternative solutions to solve pain and achieve objectives.
- Obtain support from peers, others within their business; build consensus for decision and maintain support to realise value.
- Agree plan and KPI’s to keep support aligned and execute
- Realise value, and achieve growth.
Point 1 and 2 are as difficult as the other 5 points combined. Prospecting or reaching a point where you’re having a conversation requires a new form of prospecting, one I’m calling buyer centric prospecting (as if we need another buzz word to remember). An approach that is focused on relationship building with your target audience at scale, so that when you’ve defined a need you are first on the short list.
Buyer centric prospecting is a relationship first approach that focuses on building trust with your target audience, helping them reach the conclusion that you are an expert in your field and an authentic and interesting human being to engage with, someone your audience can learn from.
If 5% of your territory was in market for your solution this year and you were on 75% of the short lists based on your strength of relationship, what will that mean to your business?
What if you were able to convince another 5% of your territory as a result of building strong relationships with your target audience, putting you in a position to teach your buyer a new perspective, helping to identify a problem not yet identified and a unique solution to solve. The win rate when helping your buyer uncover the problem are significantly higher.
Identify the sales assets and behaviours to connect, guide and coach your buyer
It’s useful to include your top performers in this process as they are the ones that will need to use the new approach in the field and can help you identify and design assets they believe will have the greatest impact. Once you have an idea of the buyer milestones think about how to best guide your buyer through them.
This can be separated into two buckets that span customers, prospects and partners.
- Awareness - Prospecting or the art of getting into new conversations with your target audience, aimed at building rapport and a feeling of trust. People buy from people they know, like and trust so the biggest asset you have is your people for this job. Empowering them to develop their personal brand, activate their network and create content that stands out, encourages your audience to come to the conclusion you want them to, which is; I am an expert at what I do (I can help you) and I’m a nice, authentic person. Your target audience will walk towards your people when the time is right.
- Deal Management - the most valuable activity for your organisation is to successfully qualify the buyer type, the need and desire of the individual as much it is the organisation. Your value story and problem identification technique is critical to opening a meaningful dialogue, an intellectual connection with your buyer that enables you to qualify effectively.
The next set of cross-roads you’ll find yourself at is defining purchase criteria. Your buyer will want to do this (if they even know how) based on the information they have, which isn’t necessarily the criteria that will most likely achieve their commercial objectives (this is where teaching comes in). It’s easy to focus only on solving the problem when the pain bad. The opportunity here is to teach your buyer where to focus the criteria, highlighting the path to value, and how they can pull value levers easily with your solution to increase the speed to value and the efficiency of getting there. Other milestones your approach must support are shaping an evaluation that explores alternative solutions to the one you provide. And Building consensus effectively with the influencers supporting the decision, both alignment of the purchase criteria as well as quantifying the differentiating commercial value of the solution proposed.
Design each sales asset
- Each milestone will need an asset or set of assets - first design the content with the buyer milestones in mind. Then test it with experienced members in your team. For example; the value story will need to address both the emotional and logic sides of the brain, focusing on the emotion you’re creating for your buyer, enough to inspire making change, in their mind.
Behavioural change requires effort
- creating a thorough enablement plan layered for leadership and the field is vital to the success of the approach. You and your leadership team will design the approach, and the success of execution is entirely based on your commitment to the approach as a leadership team, the frequency of training and the consistency in which the leaders coach the team on the approach.
Ensuring buyer trust is front and centre daily - rep and buyer behaviour and the value exchange needed to build trust.
Design a rep and buyer based coaching system
- it’s important to provide each stage of the buyer journey with a name aligned to each stage. Each stage is a guide as opposed to linear steps. At each stage create two lists of questions, one for the rep and the other for the buyer. For the rep asking themselves each question it encourages the seller to take action to move the discussion forward. Self coaching and with each step the probability of winning the deal increases. Leadership can easily understand where a deal really is and coach the rep to a more effective outcome. You may need to redesign the tasks and activities you follow today to align to your new value proposition and overall narrative.
- with a new approach comes new performance indicators. Whilst lag measures are important to understand overall success it’s critical that lead measures, behaviours that increase the probability of success are monitored and coached to. Sticking to these lead measures will be harder than Luke Skywalker staying on target to blow up The Death Star. Persevere, it will pay off!
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