It may not be fair to even refer to the world as a “post-pandemic world” yet, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we sell and the priorities that businesses have. While causing a surge in the use of digital technologies, it also accelerated multiple technology trends. It forced people and organizations all over the world to adjust to new ways of work and life.
As we head into 2022, we see that customers are more demanding than ever as they’re faced with continued uncertainty and held accountable for immediate ROI on the products and services they choose. It’s become difficult to obtain budget, as buyers require stronger use cases and more meetings between the buyer and seller take place. In fact, one of the top trends we’ve seen is the emergence of buying committees, with more people involved in reviewing and selecting a vendor to work with. Executive presence is up on calls by more than 50 percent, sales cycles are longer, and sellers are forced to be more effective than ever. Sellers must fully understand the buying journey and what matters most to everyone that is a part of it.
Buying committees start conversations with sellers after conducting a significant amount of research on their own and speaking with their LinkedIn connections. They also gain valuable information on peer-to-peer review sites like G2 Crowd and TechCrunch. Before buying committees speak to a seller, they’ve already started to compare them against their competitors.
Here are some tips on how sellers can best prepare themselves to wow the buyer and make an impression that helps them stand out from the start:
AcceptGetting through to decision makers is difficult, and creative approaches will increase your odds of making a connection at the right level. This is where a seller needs to be consistent and steadfast in their cadence of outreach. A seller must have the same sense of urgency for closing their deal as they have a desire to create a sense of urgency for the customer to purchase. Even with a buying committee, if a seller isn’t at power as early as possible, the deal is in jeopardy. Now, selling with empathy is now a requirement. Empathy helps sellers better connect with decision makers because they’ll focus less on products and services that a solution can offer, and more on the buyer, their feelings about buying, challenges they’re experiencing, and risks they face. Often, decision makers proactively reach out directly to their own network for references on products and vendors, but sellers still need to do the work and try to influence these connections from their side, as well.
There’s nothing more powerful than being able to provide a respected and unbiased point of view. LinkedIn is a great tool that sellers can use to identify common connections and opportunities where they can be introduced to an executive buyer via the warm introduction of a trusted peer or personal connection. Sellers need to make the entire buying experience customized and personalized to the buyers and their needs. Buyers need to trust them and feel supported throughout the buying process. They also want it under their terms, as much as possible. Sellers sell best when they actively listen and accommodate in a way that benefits everyone involved in the process.
RecognizeNot every committee member will have equal say and influence. Sellers need to be aware of this, so they don’t spend too much time at the wrong level. The best sellers focus on what is most important to the economic buyer and have a deep understanding of all the individuals in the buying committee, including their roles and how they make decisions. They also focus on the positive business outcomes that can be achieved, while telling a memorable story around what can be achieved by implementing their solution. Value propositions must be reconfirmed regularly with all key stakeholders to ensure that the benefits of a solution resonate with them and foster a consensus amongst them to drive the decisions needed to move forward.
EducateBe intentional; make sure to educate buyers during every interaction. The only thing a seller should assume is that buyers are overwhelmed with information overload, and they need to keep it simple. Sellers need to communicate early and often. These communications should always start with a debrief of what was previously discussed, a reminder of all deliverables and their completion status. The meetings should end with a recap of every key point or expectation that was discussed during the most recent conversation. If the conversation occurs in person or via a phone call, sellers can’t afford to cut corners and should always send a follow-up email that’s easy to read, contains a compelling subject line that includes a reminder about due dates, and highlights key points as bullets within the message itself.
Good customer enablement also means sellers are always conducting discovery to better understand changes in the business or additional challenges and roadblocks they may face. Clear and articulate communication will provide the reassurance that buyers seek while making a purchase.
UnderstandBuyers are trying to consolidate their tech stack. They look for tools that offer the most functionality. They want tools that address the specific challenges they have that also demonstrate the ability to address those challenges, save money, and eliminate risk. Most organizations will tell you they have too many tools and not enough usage of all features and functionalities within them. This makes it even more difficult for them to purchase another tool. As buyers are considering new tools and vendors, they’re also reviewing their existing tech stack and learning about how their company uses those tools today, whether there is functionality available they’re not using, or if there are overlapping features with a tool they’re considering purchasing. With technology innovation and the merging of tech companies, we’ll see buyers even more focused on where there’s overlap between systems and areas where they can save money. Sellers need to know the competition they’re up against, and they need to learn what the buyer’s current tech stack looks like and how they are using each tool within it.
Sales doesn’t have to be hard, but the most successful sales reps will need to be one step ahead of what’s to come. Just selling products no longer works, but connecting solutions to business pains does work. Buyers purchase from people they trust, so sellers must be collaborative, creative, attached to their buyers’ needs, and committed to achieving great results together.