How a new sales methodology accelerated indirect sales
The national accounts team at a global insurer asked Korn Ferry for help recapturing market share, resulting in a 52% rise in win rate.
One of the key findings in the Korn Ferry Research 2021 Buyer Preferences Study was the fact that executive buyers don’t perceive salespeople as problem solvers. When asked to name the top three resources they turn to when they have to solve a business problem, salespeople weren’t among them. Nor were they fourth or fifth. Believe it or not, they came in ninth —less than a quarter (22%) of buyers named sellers as one of their top three resources for solving business problems.
Why are they ranked so low? Because salespeople often act as sellers rather than solvers of their buyers’ problems.
Buyers’ preferences speak a clear language. Buyers want salespeople to help them solve business problems. They don’t want anybody to pitch products to them.
Here’s a summary of four key buyer preferences when it comes to sellers:
What many sellers are currently giving them.
Based on our research, sales enablement teams often overwhelm salespeople with content to share with buyers in all of their interactions. Some enablement teams focus on the idea that more content will help buyers to decide. This isn’t the case.
In sales enablement, less is more. One reason that you need an enablement charter is to clearly define what you need to do to achieve your business goals — and even what you need to stop doing.
Too often, the “value” that sellers share doesn’t fit their buyer’s problems, context, role or industry. It ends up becoming content overload. When your buyers ignore your content because it’s simply too overwhelming, your enablement efforts aren’t valuable to anyone.
The key is to help your sellers become valuable and relevant, which requires them to focus on the current phase of the customer’s path.
What does that mean? Imagine that you’re suffering from pain in your chest and left arm. You have more and more difficulty running your usual five miles a day, and you feel tired and exhausted most of the time. The pain doesn’t go away, so you see a doctor. Your general practitioner will probably refer you to a cardiologist right away. The cardiologist will run lots of tests and come up with a diagnosis.
Let’s say the diagnosis is severely clogged arteries that needs immediate surgery and a change in your diet and other habits, including exercise, smoking and relaxation. The doctor also will tell you that if you don’t get on with the therapy, you’ll likely suffer a life-threatening heart attack within the next year.
In this case, facing the risk of a heart attack, you’ll be ready to look into the options to cure the disease, even if they require significant changes to your lifestyle. However, would the doctor share all of the potential therapies with you before they have a diagnosis? Of course not. First, they diagnose. Only then do you get therapy options tailored to your disease and a clear outline regarding the risks of doing nothing.
Only once a problem is properly diagnosed and accepted will a person perceive potential therapies to cure the disease as valuable and relevant.
Translating this scenario to sales, what’s valuable in solving your buyers’ problems heavily depends on where they are on their journey. In other words, buyers assess value depending on how big their pain is and how well they understand the impact of their problem.
Here are four ideas for sales enablement leaders to ensure their sales force is valuable and relevant at the same time.
Diagnosing buyers’ problems requires sellers to have the right skills, methodologies and tools. Provide your sellers with tools that help them work with the buyers on their problem diagnosis. Questionnaires based on maturity models can help; “fitness” tests in whatever area you provide services for might be a good idea too. Then focus on the next steps that come out of the diagnosis.
Now it’s time for all of the great content. Make sure your approach to solving their problem builds on the diagnosis. Tailor your success stories, case studies, white papers and presentations to your customer’s path, buyer roles and business challenges. Using your buyer’s industry jargon should also help you convey that you know what you’re talking about.
To be most effective, you must time your approach to where the buyer is at on their journey. Train your sellers on when to share content and value messages along the customer’s path to ensure that they aren’t selling therapies for buyers’ problems that their buyer hasn’t accepted yet. As in our medical example, you can’t get ahead of the process. And make sure your approach is consistent across all of your enablement services.
This is where sales managers and their regular coaching practice comes into play. If you enable, equip and empower your sellers this way, make sure your sales managers are always on the same page from the very beginning. Then collaborate with them to adjust their coaching approach as needed.
What are you doing to help your sellers diagnose buyers’ problems? Do you offer a sales methodology or tools to guide your sellers? Do you have sales enablement targeted to sellers, their path and their problems, or do you take a one-size-fits-all approach?
Our sales consultants can show you how to develop targeted sales enablement tailored to your buyers’ journey. We’ll also teach your sellers how to identify problems and develop solutions designed to cure those problems.
Get in touch with our experienced sales consulting team to learn more.