The CEO was not impressed. During this four year period, his VP missed the target two times. This year revenue was behind goal again. If the sales team was getting better, why did they keep missing quota?
The reason was simple. The Sales team hadn’t vastly improved. Instead, their buyer was engaging with sales later in their buying cycle. The overall number of opportunities within the company was decreasing. Sales used to know when they’d been eliminated. Early stage deals were previously marked as lost. Now they never even hit the radar. The buyer had more information. Their shortlist could be created without even interacting with sales representatives.
The software company VP of Sales missed the shift in buyer power. Now his job was in jeopardy. The frontline of the buying cycle is research and information gathering. His firm was still hyper-focused in the second half the deal: sales engagement.
Download our 15 Questions for the New Era VP of Sales. You’ll be provided with 15 questions every VP of Sales should be able to answer. Those that can’t will continue to lose in opportunities they never knew existed.
In 2011, the Sales Executive Council reported the average B2B buyer engaged with a vendor 57% of the way through their buying cycle. Our research indicates this trend is increasing. More information is available to the buyer than ever before. This prolongs the engagement with the vendor. Now, the average B2B buyer engages with sales at the 65% mark.
The only way to gain mindshare early is to provide access to the information your customer demands. Many organizations fail to adjust for this trend. The software company was among them. We don’t want to show our product too early. We want to make sure we tailor it to each customer. The company didn’t realize people would see their product anyway.
Youtube videos of their software were all over the internet. One former buyer had posted common software glitches on a poorly implemented system. User groups filled with the buyer’s peers shared success and horror stories. 3rd party expert research sites offered opinions on within their current landscape. The information was out there whether they wanted it or not. People used it to determine who they would engage with. The software firm didn’t want to show the software early. This meant people turned elseware to see it in action.
The only way to gain mindshare early is to provide the information your customer demands. Companies that live in the second half of the sales cycle will increasingly find themselves in a competitive battleground. Prices will be slashed to capture the win. The only way to avoid it is to engage the customer in the first 65% .
As the VP of Sales, it is your responsibility to ensure your organization has the collateral your customers demand. This means:
- Capturing the information your buyer demands through prospect interviews
- Gathering competitive intelligence through mystery shops
- Building and reviewing sales collateral in conjunction with marketing
- Addressing hostile or poorly reviews about your soluiton
The successful VP of Sales doesn’t solely rely on engagement to win deals. They proactively seek the buyer early in their journey. They work closely with Marketing to build content the buyer demands. It’s time to realign yourself with the buyer. Download the 15 Questions For The New Era VP of Sales.