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The way buyers make decisions has changed and selling is not the same as it used to be.
Once upon a time, purchase decisions were made by the guys in the big offices with nice cars in the front parking spots. A couple of expensive dinners and a round of golf at Castle Pines got the sale closed. Back then, the sales reps had most of the information (and influence) in the sales process.
Today, decisions are made by consensus across the organization. CEB (now Gartner) found that as many as seven people are involved in the average complex sale purchasing process. They work in management, purchasing, finance and different departments that interface with the proposed solution.
The customer dives deep into research mode and narrows their options down to the top three. Then, when they feel that they understand their alternatives, they engage salespeople from the chosen vendors who get the pleasure of meeting with a bunch of stressed-out, highly confused buyers.
Partner with the Customer
Most of the time, the primary customer contact or “inside champion” manages the activities (and influence) of sales reps. They control the scheduling and prevent sales reps from running office-to-office at the customer site. So, reps end up having direct contact with a limited number of people in the decision-making process.
Actually, over half of the selling process is done without the sales rep involved.
Without direct sales rep involvement, the inside champion becomes a critical asset in navigating the purchasing process. In this new model, sales enablement teams need to consider how they can best support the rep as they do their best to support the inside champion.
Sales Enablement Involves Enabling More than Just the Salesperson
Clearly, the first area of focus needs to be on the sales rep. Surviving the early stages of a deal demands a more prepared, capable, and comfortable sales rep. They need the ability to identify critical purchasing drivers and collaborate with the “inside champion” to arrive at the right solution.
Improving the reps’ ability to survive the first customer meeting has a big impact on revenue. Most deals are lost as a result of a seller’s less-than-stellar performance in the first encounter, where the deal unhooks without a second meeting ever getting scheduled.
Enable the “Inside Champion”
Buyer process enablement is the second, and most overlooked part of supporting sales. Based on their role in the process, the inside champion should be supported as well as your salesperson. To get the best performance out of your virtual sales rep, reach them on a personal and professional level. After all, they are sticking their neck out for your company.
Buyer process enablement requires focused content and materials mapped to each of the decision makers, influencers, and approvers through the process. Your sales rep needs to become a virtual sherpa, supporting the inside champion with quick access to information, guidance, and by managing the necessary resources.
Take Care of the Supporting Cast
The inside champion really doesn’t have it easy. They have three or four sales guys pounding on them, management pressuring them to solve a problem, and getting pecked at from all angles by different peer groups. The rep’s role has changed in the new buying paradigm. With less direct influence on the sale, they need to orchestrate the flow of information into the buying committee, while coaching and supporting their Inside Champion.
Enabling the rep and the inside champion creates an efficient and more effective purchasing process, reinforcing your value as a seller throughout the customer’s organization.
Win Deals with Multiple Decision Makers
Navigate the purchase process with a large buying committee.
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