How Buyer-Centric is your Sales Organization?
If your sales training materials accidentally fell into the hands of your best customers and target buyers, would you be proud, or mortified?
Our mindsets, beliefs, and how we speak, all influence the way we behave, so getting your sales methodology and related training materials right influence your sellers’ behavior and help you project the best-possible image to your buyers and customers.
Consider a few reality checks as you assess your current state of sales training and determine your desired future state of buyer centricity. If you find yourself in these common situations, navigate the problems with these solutions.
Common Sales Training Realities to Check
“Handling” and “Overcoming Objections”
Do you use the phrase “overcoming objections?” Do buyers think about the concerns they raise as objections? (Reminds me of a courtroom drama: I object, your honor! Sustained!) Even if they object, do they want to have their concerns overcome? Even “handling” is odd, isn’t it? Do people want to be “handled?” We can do better.
INSTEAD: Replace objection phrasing with resolving concerns and use an empathetic, people-oriented, communication-centric process for resolving concerns. This addresses a key issue from B2B buying research, where buyers report that they don’t feel sellers listen, understand them, communicate well with decision makers, or act in trustworthy ways. We should eliminate the adversarial, combatant language and foster far more buyer-centric behaviors.
Do you discuss sales in military or war terms? For example: War room; Flank ’em; Lost the battle but not the war; Bring out the big guns. If customers heard that language, what would they think of you and your company? First, do we really need to refer to violent metaphors in business? Secondly, this doesn’t foster the empathetic, “we’re on the same-side-of-the-table” servant leadership and problem-solving that will deliver what modern buyers seek: a true partner that operates in their best interest.
INSTEAD: Help your sellers focus on understanding their buyers, problem-solving with them, co-creating solutions, and winning hearts and minds. This will allow them to align, serve, support, and deliver the desired outcomes that matter to their buyers and customers.
Do you use negotiating gambits and tactics in hopes of getting a better deal and “winning” the negotiation?
INSTEAD: Understand the tactics to protect yourself against buyers who are trained to use them. With that knowledge, navigate the negotiation back to a win-win approach, focused on value and interests, not positions and tactics.
Do your sellers’ LinkedIn profiles emphasize their selling prowess (quota crushers, President’s club attainment, the number of sales methodologies learned, the VC-funding rounds obtained, etc.) as if it’s positioned for recruiters, more so than buyers? Buyers don’t care about any of this.
INSTEAD: Flip the messaging to explain why clients turn to you. Include the problems you solve and discuss how you help clients achieve their goals and desired outcomes.
When you first interact with prospects, do you pitch or lead with your products, what you do, what you want, and about your company)? Do you make it all about you?
INSTEAD: Lead with what matters most to your buyers and customers – their problems, issues, goals, objectives, and desired outcomes. In Modern Sales Foundations, we refer to uncovering this information as COIN-OP: the buyers’ Challenges, Opportunities, Impacts, Needs, Outcomes, and Priorities – all from their perspective.
Did you develop buyer personas solely based on internal perspective? Do you build products with cool features you like or something that interests you, versus to solve a major problem in the market? Are you simply selling versus helping your buyers buy and customers succeed?
INSTEAD: Inject VOC into everything you do. Build personas (or hire an expert) based on market research. Form Customer Advisory Boards to gain their perspective on how to improve product-market-fit and customer experience. Use NPS or CSAT surveys to gauge progress, learn, and further improve customer experience. Conduct Win/Loss Analysis to improve the sales experience and win-rates.
Is your sales process completely seller-centric and only about what your sellers need to do, void of buyer perspective? If it’s only about things like appointments set, qualification, discovery meetings, and product demos delivered, you’re missing the true point of sales process management. It should be about guiding the buyers to make a great purchase decision, versus a checklist of steps that you take.
INSTEAD: Align your sales process with your personas’ buying process. Capture the decision criteria and buying process exit criteria for each major persona in each stage of their buying process. Make uncovering, understanding, satisfying, and confirming the satisfaction of their buying process exit criteria (for each decision-maker and influencer), part of each stage of your sales process. Yes, you need to include your sales process tasks and your exit criteria, as well. But that is in addition to giving your buyers what they need to make a great decision.
What’s the Current State of Your Sales Training?
Adopting a buyer-centric sales training methodology puts you in a better position to connect with your customers, understand their situations, and ultimately solve their problems. When you review each of the topics discussed, consider the buyer-centric alternative to transform your sales organization. I hope that this is a good kick-start for your company and provides some food for thought as you evolve to better serve your customers and other modern buyers like them.
Explore Modern Sales Foundations to capitalize on these recommendations and learn how to manage common sales situations in a buyer-centric way.