How to focus on buyer needs and avoid unwinnable deals
Sellers who offer insights and perspective tailored to their buyer’s needs move deals through the pipeline and close more business.
More than half of the deals that are forecasted to close don’t, according to the 2019 CSO Insights World-Class Sales Practices Study. And, for six years in a row, only slightly more than half of sales representatives—56% in 2019—met or exceeded their sales quotas, according to the 2018 CSO Insights Buyer Preferences Study.
Over the years, we’ve studied the difference between sales representatives who succeed and fail, and one thing is clear: sellers stand above the rest when they master perspective, providing insights and education that helps clients reframe their thinking and see business problems in a new light. When sellers master this approach, they achieve higher quota attainment and win rates than sellers who don’t—differentiating themselves from their competition.
Our research into enterprise sales strategies and customer experience strategies shows that sellers set themselves apart from the competition in five key ways if they’ve mastered the art of sharing perspective with buyers.
1. They Provide Clients with Insights and Perspective That Reframe Their Thinking
Sellers need a repeatable approach and methodology for conducting sales calls that add value to every sales interaction. Sellers who excel at providing perspective and insights during the sales process have a substantial impact on win rates compared to those who fall short of expectations: their deal close rates increase by 23%.
There’s no single “right” way to deliver perspective: the key is to tailor your conversation to each buying influence’s needs. Some buyers want new ideas to grow their business, while others want to learn about new ways to meet their personal goals. Some want to receive new ideas or thought leadership before discussing their needs; others prefer to receive it afterward. No matter how and when it’s delivered, the key is to learn how to offer valuable insights and to determine the best approach for different buying influences.
2. They Effectively Use Questioning Skills to Reveal Customer Needs, Including Unrealized Needs
Salespeople with a defined process for asking questions close more deals. The SPIN questioning technique provides a blueprint to move the customer forward through the buying cycle.
Sales training techniques like SPIN Selling Conversations help sellers learn how to ask questions that uncover buyer needs and overcome objections all in the moments when deals are made and lost.
3. They Effectively Communicate Value Messages that Are Relevant to Buyer Needs
There’s no standard value proposition today that applies to every buyer. With more than six stakeholders involved in the average deal, sellers need value messages tailored to each buying influence’s role, the problems they’re trying to solve and the different phases of their customer’s path to ensure the interaction is beneficial, relevant and differentiating.
Sales organizations that equip sellers with messages tailored to buyer roles have higher win rates (+8.9%) than those who leave the customization up to sellers.
4. Their Customer Service Interactions Enhance the Overall Customer Experience
Many sellers focus heavily on the first part of the customer’s journey, through the awareness, buying and implementation phases. But customers say that sellers need to also focus on what happens after the sale— the phase that’s most valuable to a buyer and the one that drives customer loyalty.
Service professionals interact 10 times more with customers than sellers, giving them the deepest understanding of customers’ needs and priorities. Many organizations miss a key opportunity to maximize this knowledge by failing to offer training to service professionals on how to listen, lead high-value interactions and guide customer-focused conversations.
To better serve customers, organizations must connect sales and service in a holistic manner that places the customer’s needs at the center of every decision—doing so increases both the value of the deal and the relationship.
5. They Effectively Negotiate to Resolve Differences and Agree on a Mutually Beneficial Decision
Complex deals often involve even more complex negotiations. With so much at stake, sellers must have excellent negotiation skills to maximize their profits or close larger deals. Sellers need negotiation skills that span the entire buying cycle, including positioning and framing the discussion, exchanging alternatives to resolve differences, handling impasses and securing a final agreement.
An effective enterprise sales strategy teaches sellers how to recognize and counter customer negotiation tactics, including the 21 most commonly encountered negotiation styles.
Customer relationships are built on a series of defining moments that rely on the impressions that sellers make. Sellers make their strongest, most lasting impressions on buyers when they engage in these five practices, enabling them to deliver valuable insights in the form of perspective.
Ready to start exceeding buyer expectations? Take the Sales Conversation Metric and discover gaps to fill in your organization’s sales training techniques and customer experience strategies.