Three Qualities That Will Win a Buyer’s Business

Why does one sales team win a customer’s business, while another sales team finishes in second place? According to research announced in this blog post, New Sales Research: What Sales Winners Do Differently, three simple selling behaviors separate winning sales teams from their competition.

The findings of the study, published by RAIN Group, are based on an analysis of more than 700 B2B purchases from buyers representing $3.1 billion in annual purchases. Let’s look at the top three factors that buyers attributed to sales teams that won the buyer’s business:

  1. Educated me with new ideas or perspectives,
  2. Collaborated with me,
  3. Persuaded me we would achieve results.

Now let’s look at these same factors and see how buyers ranked second-place finishers in their ability to demonstrate these attributes:

  1. Educated me with new ideas or perspectives – 42nd place (dead last),
  2. Collaborated with me – 26th place,
  3. Persuaded me we would achieve results – 41st place.

Obviously the second-place sales teams were not trying to lose the deals on purpose. I think the likely problem is their failure to adapt to changing buyer behavior. For the second-place teams, unless they recognize what has changed (see the top three factors above), their only chance for success is if the winner is not in the deal and they are only competing against the third-and fourth-place vendors.

What I found encouraging was the behavior of sales winners. The three main verbs from their success factors (educate, collaborate, and persuade) are the building blocks of the approach that I advocate (aka, ROI-based selling). The keys are for salespeople to help prospects:

  1. Better see the magnitude of their problems,
  2. More clearly imagine how things could be better,
  3. Work with them to project measurable results, and
  4. Deliver a business case to overcome internal objections.

There are different types of tools that can help salespeople accomplish each of these four points and communicate value at different stages of the sales cycle. Regardless which tool you use, the fundamental approach remains the same: educate, collaborate, persuade. By shifting their focus to what buyers really want, I believe that second-place finishers can become sales winners.

Do you use tools that help you educate, collaborate, and persuade buyers? Do you agree these are key selling behaviors to win with buyers today? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Helping Prospects Visualize the Need for Change: The Halogen Story

Sometimes the earliest stage in the buying process isn’t when a prospect realizes he or she has a problem. It’s a nagging feeling they have about the status quo. Even though things are going well, they still feel they could somehow be better.

This is an opportunity for sellers and marketers. Your job is to paint a vision of what “better” looks like (including, hopefully, the idea that your product or solution can help them get there).

One of my clients, Halogen Software, decided to help its target market of HR managers identify ways they could improve their succession-planning strategies. The challenge for Halogen’s typical prospect is: how can we identify, develop, and retain a talented workforce? Halogen’s succession planning software solves this problem by easily allowing users to:

  1. Understand their workforce’s potential
  2. Develop internal talent pools,
  3. Recruit successors from within.

We worked with Halogen to create a succession planning assessment tool that would give prospects an idea of their status quo, and show them areas for possible improvement.

The tool essentially asks prospects “How does your succession planning strategy stack up?” by taking users through a 20 question self-assessment. Each question elicits rankings, ranging from “Not at All” to “Very Well.” The tool then provides a score to show users how well their organization is doing in succession planning (scores appear in four areas: identification, assessment, development, and management). Users can download a report that features their scores, plus tailored recommendations for improvement based on best practices extrapolated from Rothwell & Associates research.

Use an assessment tool to help prospects visualize the need for change

When prospects understand their shortcomings, they respond more urgently to invitations to try new solutions and find new ways to improve. Because Halogen offers this assessment tool on its web site, the company paves the way to have more effective conversations with prospects that now have an idea about how they can go from good to better.

What’s your biggest challenge in getting prospects to engage with you? Do you use assessment tools to paint a vision of success? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Thoughts on Summer Slowdowns for B2B Sellers and Marketers

For some B2B sellers and marketers, the summer slump is just a myth. But no matter what the season, all of us experience a slowdown every now and again. Here are some smart tips we’ve come across on the subject of beating a sales or marketing slowdown (summertime or otherwise) in the B2B space.

“Companies [can] try a variety of creative programs to try to light a fire and get things moving. ON24 uses a three-month contest called the VAULT. Every time reps sell a deal of a certain size, or the Lead Gen team sets a meeting within a target account, they earn a code for the VAULT.  At the end of August, four codes will open a vault and earn an incredible prize: Rolex, Macbook with iPod, big screen with surround sound, etc.” Read more at http://www.yesware.com/blog/2013/07/15/will-summer-heat-roast-your-sales-teams-productivity/

“Give your salespeople spontaneous days off when they’ve earned them. Even if you do this only on very rare occasions, it’s a gesture that packs a big wallop.  If your team is really being productive let them know it.  Unexpected 4 day weekends can pay huge dividends.” Read more at http://blog.saleskatz.com/bid/273819/Avoiding-Summer-Sales-Slowdown 

“There’s actually a lot that can be accomplished during slow periods, especially when it comes to your content marketing strategy … Connect with some rockstars … if there’s someone in a related industry who’s rocking their content marketing — maybe they have a great newsletter, maybe they have great videos or podcasts — this is a great time to touch base with them and say, ‘Hey, would you mind spending 30 minutes on the phone? I would love to get your ideas and see if I can benefit from your wisdom.’ I find most people are very, very open to things like that.” Listen to the podcast (skip to 7:00 minute mark to hear the 10 tips.)

“Summer usually slow? Prospect twice as much late spring. Winter slow? Prospect three times as much as usual in late Fall. It might take two or three times as much, during a slow season, to reach the same amount of prospects but by preparing in advance you can still set appointments and close business.” Read more at http://thesalesjournal.net/sales-blog/featured-contributors/47-beating-a-seasonal-slump

“Use summer to work with beta testers – take this off time to dig deeper to find out what your customers want in your product.” Read more at http://www.business2community.com/salesmanagement/how-to-deal-with-summer-sales-slow-down-0557321#JdzZ0Av6UpezHd8I.99

Do you have a slow season? How do you avoid the slump? Share your thoughts in the comments section.