“Buyers may have a great experience during the self-directed portion of the buyer’s journey. But once the sales team engages, the experience degrades substantially. The result is frustrated buyers who take their business to a competitor who can meet their needs.”
I was recently in the field with an Account Manager of a client. We went to lunch with a customer he had been working with for years. He knew Diane (his contact) well, and they had a good relationship. The point of the lunch was to discuss possible solutions for the customer’s business. Before the lunch, he informed me that this was to be an informal meeting. Diane had been a longstanding champion of my client. He frequently socialized ideas with her before engaging the rest of the buying team.
The discussion was lighthearted and going well. Then the Account Manager started to discuss his suggested solution. Diane’s face went blank and there was a brief silence. She took a bite of her lunch and slowly chewed. “That might work,” she said half-heartedly. “Let me give it some thought and discuss it with my team.” It was apparent to all three of us at the table: the discussion was in the ballpark, but nowhere near the strike zone.
When we got back to the car, we took some time to debrief. I asked him how he thought the meeting went. “Good,” he replied. “ has been tougher to do business with over the past few years. Diane has been integral to keep things moving.” I asked how he approached developing his strategy towards Acme. His reply was focused mainly around imbedding himself in the account. He was a relationship guy. The more we discussed this, the more apparent it became: his sales strategy (or lack thereof) was not aligned with the true buyer needs. He was missing key areas and these were impacting his success.
To ensure your sales strategy is in alignment with buyer needs, there are a few key areas that need to be focused on:
Organizational and Personal Goals: It is imperative to understand both. Personal goals of the decision maker/s are not always in line with corporate direction. If you can understand and differentiate these, you can create a strategy that approached both. Corporate goals must be met. Incorporating personal drivers will get you closer to the deal.
Problem Definition: You must understand how the problem is personally defined by each decision maker. This gives insight into key areas of focus for each person. Ensure to uncover perceived personal and business impact for the entire Decision Making Team. Perception is reality. Assuming that the definition given by one member translates to all is a mistake.
Defining the Desired Outcome: Ensure to identify the desired outcome through the lens of each decision maker. Dig deep to understand how this looks for them, the organization, the end user, etc… Also understand how success will be measured. This is a roadmap for your sales strategy.
Potential Pitfalls / Roadblocks: What do you need to be aware of and watch out for? Each member of the buying team will have different perspective on this. It is much easier to understand and create a mitigation plan in advance. Waiting until problems arise can slow sales momentum and kill the deal.
Business as usual is no longer business as usual. More and more of the buyer’s journey is done without including a sales rep. This makes it increasingly difficult to understand core buyer needs. Misalignment of sales strategy and buyer needs is a leading indicator of missing the number. 78% of sales teams do not have the right sales strategy. Prevent this from killing your success. Download the Buyer Need Alignment Tool now, and ensure your strategy focuses on the needs of your customer.
There are 6 key reasons for why sales teams have the wrong sales strategy. These are outlined and addressed in our 8th Annual Research Report. For more insight on the report, sign up for our Workshop.