Sales strategies are meant to provide clear objectives and guidance to your sales organization. Most of these guidelines are helpful for communicating goals and keeping your sales reps on the same page. Where most sales strategies fall short, however, is that they are too focused on the internal workings of your organization. To truly be effective, your organization’s sales strategy needs to focus on customer conversations.
So, even if you sell a truly remarkable product, your buyers probably will not recognize the real value you offer to their organization. In fact, Forrester research found that 74 percent of executive buyers will give their business to a company that illustrates a buying vision, compared to vendors among a group of commodity suppliers. This is not just about touting your product’s features, hoping that your buyer chooses you over your competition. This powerful value proposition will uncover previously unconsidered needs for your prospect, create contrast, and drive the urgency to change using stories and insights. The truth is that most buyers prefer to do nothing instead of change. In fact, 60 percent of deals in the pipeline are lost to “no decision” rather than to competitors. To break through Status Quo Bias and get prospects to leave their current situation, you need to tell a story that makes a compelling case for why they should change, and why they should change now. Answering these questions are what creates your unique value, differentiates your solution, and sets the tone for your buyer’s entire Deciding Journey.
Storytelling paints a vivid picture for your buyers, illustrating the contrast between their current situation versus what is possible, and connecting what you offer directly to their unique situation. Once you start sharing stories in your sales conversations, your customer relationships will become deeper and more rewarding. Typically, the sales process involves several steps like prospecting, qualifying, discovering needs, negotiating, and closing. This would be an ideal checklist to follow if all your buyers were robots being taken through an assembly line. Instead of being “program-centric” with a one-size-fits-all sales strategy, you need to be problem-centric, addressing the specific needs of your buyers as they arise with situationally relevant messages, content, and the skills to deliver them. Customer profiles and buyer personas sound good in theory. But when used as a superficial profiling approach, personas can lead your messaging astray. Buyers are motivated by outside influences that challenge their status quo and convince them to change. So, instead of focusing your sales strategy on a lot of inconsequential attributes, speak to your buyer’s situation and why their current approach is putting their business at risk. Too often, salespeople base their marketing messaging on the needs that prospects tell them they have. Then, they connect those identified needs to corresponding capabilities, in standard “solution selling” fashion. You fall into the trap of commodity messaging along with your competitors, who are likely constructing their value message in response to the same set of inputs. Research conducted by Corporate Visions found that a provocative messaging approach that begins by introducing an Unconsidered Need enhances your persuasive impact by 10 percent.
Most sales and marketing teams spend most of their budgets and effort on customer acquisition and demand generation. Nearly half of the companies surveyed by Corporate Visions invest less than 10 percent of their marketing budgets in customer retention and expansion. The challenge is, retention and expansion require a distinct messaging and customer conversation approach. While customer acquisition is all about challenging the status quo to highlight the benefits of switching to your solution, customer retention and expansion requires you to reinforce your position as their status quo.
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