Executives are changing the way they make purchase decisions. Some are altering their evaluation criteria. Others are involving more people in the decision-making process. Some are changing their preferences for how they want to engage with your sales team. Decentralized decision-making is becoming centralized, and centralized decisions are now being made regionally.
Failure to exactly understand how executives are buying leaves your team without a plan for victory. Evaluate your buyer research at a deeper level by downloading our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to pages 168 – 171 of the workbook and review the buyer research phase of the Marketing Strategy.
Whether they win or lose, the KU Jayhawks always walk onto the field with a plan for victory. Coach Bill Self provides his team a play that gives his team the highest probability of success to win. Coach Bill Self has a career winning percentage of .764% by giving his team the right guidance to execute. Buyer Process Maps are the tool you must give your team to increase their probability of success.
Most companies invest time and money into buyer personas. This is done to understand your buyers goals and objectives. You then need to also invest in detailed buyer process maps. The purpose is to understand the macro and micro questions your buyer is asking themselves.
Sales enablement tools can’t get a cursory review. These are career making or breaking decisions. Normally these programs are some of the largest investments the company will make. The amount of time and effort company’s spend thrashing through these implementations is staggering. Consider the potential impact of a 10% selling time change. It can equate to gaining or losing 1-2 months of selling time.
Develop Internal Buyer Process Maps (BPMs) before launching another technology improvement.
Stop kidding yourself when you say you involved the sales team. Asking a couple of sales reps does not constitute understanding the buyer. Having one sales manager on the implementation team is just checking the box. Failed implementations of enablement programs will cause you to miss the number. Eventually it will cost you your job.
Let’s say you’re implementing a company-wide communication program next year. What is the problem we’re trying to solve? How will the user buyer benefit from the solution? How do you get the user buyer to adopt the solution you’re providing?
Start with the user buyer and work your way backward. User buyer examples:
- Sales reps by vertical
- Sales Managers (all levels)
- Strategic & Key Account Managers
- Technical sales reps or SME’s
- Product Management,
- Product Development
- Product Marketing
- Professional Services
- Same list above but by geography
I’ll use the old term, slow down to go faster. Doing the homework upfront avoids the automation implementation disaster. In most cases, the value is never realized. It means you can’t explain the return on the investment you just made.
Consider the following forms of discovery before starting your solution selection:
- Buyer Interviews & surveys (everyone listed above) – what do they need, how will they use the tools, what problem are you solving for?
- Loss analysis – how would the solution have helped avoid lost opportunities?
- Executive Interviews & surveys – most implementations fail based on inadequate leadership support and adoption. How will the leadership team lead?
- Metrics – impact on winning more deals, closing deals faster, increasing our speed to market, etc. If you can’t measure it why start?
- Mystery shops – what is the team utilizing today to help increase their competitive position. How is this new solution going to be adopted and why?
- Expert panel – the classic buy in from the team. These are the experts or top 10% of the team. If the experts adopt it, others will follow.
- Prototype – walk before running approach. If you built the solution yourself, you would start with a few features then expand. Too many bells and whistles too soon add additional tattoos to our user buyer.
Benefits (Social Business Communication case study) if executed correctly:
- Time or employee productivity (15%) – for sales this is huge. If you’re like most companies you’ve corrupted your sales role. You’re probable at approx. 40% selling time or 800 hours/year/rep. What would 120 hours/year/rep of selling do for your company?
- 8% increase in the number of deals/year – multiply your total number of deals by 8%. If you had 8% more deals would you make the number?
- Sales cycle length reduced by 22% – take your current sales cycle length and reduce it by 22%. How many more deals would that be per rep per year?
The difficulty with most implementations is the numbers are usually negative.
You’re probably in the middle of, half through or considering similar solutions. Maybe it’s Marketing Automation (Eloqua, Marketo, etc.), or communication/collaboration programs (Yammer, Jive, Chatter, etc.). The question is; are you going to be another statistic?
You’re in the driver’s seat. If you’re not familiar with buyer process maps, click here and learn more from my colleague Scott Gruher about how not having a BPM are a leading cause for opportunities to go dark.
If you would like help with your buyer research, come see the SBI leadership team in Dallas at The Studio, SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to The Studio typically results in getting 3 months of work done in 3 days. The immersive sessions accelerate everything, dramatically reducing the time it takes to diagnose a problem, develop a solution, and create an implementation plan.