Overcome These 3 Challenges to Gain Top Seller Status

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Top-performing B2B sales reps have evolved their success methods to meet changing customer demands and remain at the top of their game. Looking at these sales champs, we notice three key characteristics that lead to their continued over-achievement, traits which can be replicated to scale this performance beyond just a select few.

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First, we notice that prospects and customers are more apt to accept meetings with less commute and travel windshield time. Sellers are freed up to meet the demand. Look at any seller’s calendar compared to a year ago and you will see the difference. But more is not necessarily more: more meetings doesn’t mean more sales. The best sellers realize that not all meetings are created equal. You have to up your meeting game to differentiate and inspire.

Second, we find that when a buyer wants to implement transformation and invest in a proposed solution, they have a difficult time gaining consensus and navigating more stakeholders, including the CF ”No” and COVID review committee, leading to a more complex journey, with extra review, approval steps, and more financial scrutiny.

Third, as a result of a more difficult buyer’s journey with uncertainty and lack of diligence, many organizations are facing approval delays, more stalled deals, deals lost to “do nothing” and as a result, struggling to make and achieve forecasts. 

Let’s explore each of these in detail, learning from how the best sellers are evolving to help overcome these amplified challenges.

 

Grab Attention and Inspire Change

Buyers are more apt to take your meeting request, but that hasn’t translated into more sales. First, buyers have more time and are using some of this extra time to accept vendor outreach and learn. Their desire to learn, however, doesn’t necessarily translate into a sale. Second, buyers are distracted, with attention spans less than that of a goldfish. You have to grab and hold their attention, teach and inspire them to change.

The more you try to pitch your solution in these meetings when the buyer is in “learn” mode, the less effective the meetings will be. Instead of a traditional product pitch, 74 percent of buyers value the sellers who can pivot meetings to discuss what the buyer wants to talk about, not just a blind pitch. Challenger points to five critical success factors that differentiate a great seller experience according to today’s buyer:

  • Demonstrates unique insights
  • Helps the buyer come to a decision
  • Understands and addresses different stakeholder needs
  • Helps the buyer  build support across my organization
  • Makes it easy for the buyer to make a purchase

One of the ways to ensure your sellers can grab a jaded buyer’s attention and keep it long enough to inspire them into a champion for your solution is with interactive content. Rather than sellers using boring traditional PowerPoint presentations and data sheets to pitch products, companies must reshape the way reps engage, making it a more engaging consultative experience. For example, instead of a big linear PowerPoint deck, your sellers can be armed with interactive presentations, providing a customized adventure for the buyer. Interactive presentations should include:

  • Discovery questions and graphics, to help the seller and buyer collaboratively discuss and identify key challenges
  • Navigation through small stories (vignettes) to support storytelling around the reason they should address identified challenges and use cases of the solution in how it has helped others like them to overcome challenges and be heroes 
  • Animation and graphics to grab attention and convey complex concepts in simple terms
  • Recommended content to intelligently highlight success stories and next steps

With B2B buyers more sophisticated than ever before, and distracted by work-from-home environments, sellers need a different approach. As sales enablement and content marketers arming our sellers with the content they need to fuel conversations, we must reimagine traditional content to make it more effective for digital selling, utilizing interactive, inspiring content. 

This results in a more efficient, productive, and consistent sales process across your entire team. By putting your sales content in a visual and interactive format, you can influence the objective. It’s crucial to keep in mind that the selling doesn’t stop when the meeting is over, especially with today’s larger decision-making groups and committees. Therefore, the content can be easily assembled, shared and consumption tracked.

 

Business Value

Buyers are stressed with uncertainty. They are overloaded with more outreach, more content, and complexity. They don’t want to be sold to, instead, they want an advisor they can trust. Most prospects don’t care about your company or your product, but they do care if you can help solve their problems and bring measurable value to their business. Unfortunately, too many salespeople make it all about their company and proposed solutions, not about what buyers care most about. 

This doesn’t work. 

When a buyer wants to make a purchase, the process has become much more complex and difficult to navigate in the following ways:

Sellers need to offer real value to customers by solving pressing business problems in every conversation. Great sales reps need to “ditch the pitch” and create an entirely different collaborative experience with customers, one that is focused not on the proposed solution, but on the buyer’s challenges and potential business outcomes that can be delivered. According to research by the Rain Group, 66% of buyers say making a clear ROI case highly influences their purchase decisions, however, only 16% of sellers are very effective at this. 

Reps should focus on a specific business challenge that their product can address and offer a solution to it. Once sellers discover the prospect’s key issues, they can help address and introduce unmet needs to the discussion. The seller can then expand the conversation to other areas the prospect may not have been thinking about. This is where you can show off your product’s capabilities and the business value it brings to the customer.

 

Effective Forecasting

Why are sales forecasts important? Besides the fundamental challenges in producing them, B2B companies often find sales forecasts particularly valuable when it comes to making more informed, introspective, and strategic decisions about their sales methodology. 

With so much uncertainty and buyers having a more difficult time getting deals across the finish line, many forecasted deals end up struggling to close or are indefinitely stalled. In fact, according to CSO Insights, less than half (47.3%) of forecasted business ends up being closed. Successful companies are looking for ways to increase sales forecasting accuracy to stay on track to hit goals. So what’s preventing the majority of sales organizations from doing so?

  • Salespeople being too subjective about their close possibilities
  • Counting unqualified opportunities to boost a pipeline’s volume
  • Managers failing to investigate salespeople’s commits closely

As a lead’s status changes throughout the pipeline, sales professionals must proactively track those changes. Failure to do so can misdirect a team’s sales forecasts by perpetuating false assumptions about the actual progress of their leads becoming sales. To an extent, sales forecasting will always be more of an educated guess and never an exact science. Sales leaders should remain realistic about their expectations, looking to the sales forecast as more of a plan than a concrete prediction.

Through the challenges of the pandemic and difficulties we faced in 2020, sales teams remained resilient and learned new ways to efficiently and effectively deliver valuable results for their organizations. The key to overcoming these challenges involves creativity in adapting your sales and prospecting processes, building your business value, and understanding the importance of sales forecasting accuracy. 


Tom “The ROI Guy” Pisello is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author of the book Evolved Selling™: Optimizing Sales Enablement in the Age of Frugalnomics. He joined the Mediafly team in 2018 through the acquisition of the company he founded and led, Alinean Inc. In his role as Mediafly’s Chief Evangelist, Tom is responsible for developing new practices for sellers and marketers to communicate and quantify business value to increasingly frugal buyers. He also leads Mediafly’s Advisory Services group in helping companies evolve their selling practices from transactional to value-led. Outside of the office, he is the proud father of two daughters.