I was reading a very insightful article from HBR titled the end of solution sales. Here are some excerpts that I found very interesting and relevant to the B2B sales /marketing challenge.
Strategy #1: Avoid the Trap of “Established Demand”
Star performers treat requests for sales presentations very differently than average performers do. Whereas the latter perceive an invitation to present as the best sign of a promising opportunity, the former recognize it for what it is—an invitation to bid for a contract that is probably destined to be awarded to a favoured vendor. The star sales rep uses the occasion to reframe the discussion and turn a customer with clearly defined requirements into one with emerging needs. Even when he’s invited in late, he tries to rewind the purchasing decision to a much earlier stage.
Interesting piece for sales – you are actually trying to slow down the decision to make sure that it comes your way.
A sales leader at a business services company recently told us about one of the firm’s top sellers, who, asked to give an RFP presentation, quickly commandeered the meeting to his own ends.
“Here is our full response to your RFP—everything you were looking for,” he told the assembled executives. “However, because we have only 60 minutes together, I’m going to let you read that on your own. I’d like to use our time to walk you through the three things we believe should have been in the RFP but weren’t, and to explain why they matter so much.” At the end of the meeting the customer sent home the two vendors who were still waiting for their turn, cancelled the RFP process, and started over: The rep had made it clear to the executives that they were asking the wrong questions. He reshaped the deal to align with his company’s core capabilities and ultimately landed it
Strategy #2: Target Mobilizers, Not Advocates
This idealized advocate doesn’t actually exist. Each attribute can probably be found somewhere in a customer organization, but our research shows that the traits rarely all come together in one person. So reps find themselves settling for someone who has some of them. And when choosing an advocate, we’ve found most reps walk right past the very people who could help them get the deal done—the people star performers have learned to recognize and rely on.
Most sales guys hang on to advocates and hope that they will take them through the deal.
Strategy #3: Coach Customers on How to Buy
Sales leaders often overlook the fact that as hard as it is for most suppliers to sell complex solutions, it’s even harder for most customers to buy them.
It’s instructive to reflect on how much time and effort sales organizations invest in equipping their reps to “discover” the customer’s purchasing process. Most carefully train them to ask a host of questions about how decisions are made and how the deal is likely to progress, assuming that the customer will have accurate answers. That’s a poor strategy.