Why do many sales teams struggle to manage a value-based sale?

Why do many sales teams struggle to manage a value-based sale?

Not focusing on helping buyers through their buying process is why many sales teams are struggling to manage a value-based sale and maintain an accurate sales forecast.

Too often, sales reps ask general, high-level questions that offer little to no value helping sales reps better support and guide buyers on how to manage their buying struggles better.

Their supporting sales playbooks and sales plays often reinforce this selling behaviour because they are obsessed with moving their products, services and solutions through a sales process and pipeline.

To support our sales teams focus on the buyers’ journey and struggles, our sales playbooks and sales plays need to focus on supporting our sales teams to improve their questioning skills. The sales process must focus on earning the trust and building a compelling business case to support sales teams help buyers make good purchase decisions.

We must focus on the buyers’ journey if we are to be effective offering more value than our competitors.

Take the time to understand the buyers’ journey and their struggles

Brent Adamson, Distinguished VP, Advisory, at Gartner, sums up the sales challenge. “As hard as it has become to sell in today’s world, it has become that much more difficult to buy. The single biggest challenge of selling today is not selling; it is our customers struggle to buy.”

If our sales playbooks and sales plays are to better support our sales team achieve their quota targets. They must focus on helping buyers through their often complex buying journey. Gartner identified six B2B buying “jobs” that customers must complete to their satisfaction to successfully finalise a purchase decision:

  • Problem identification. “We need to do something.”
  • Solution exploration. “What is out there to solve our problem?”
  • Requirements building. “What exactly do we need the purchase to do?”
  • Supplier Selection. “Does this do what we want it to do?”
  • Validation. “We think we know the right answer, but we need to be sure.”
  • Consensus creation. “We need to get everyone on board.”

These six “jobs” to finalise a purchase decision explain why the number of people involved in the buying journey is increasing. We discuss this challenge in the sales blog, Do your sales playbooks focus on the buyers’ journey?

How well do you understand your buyers’ journey?

Our sales playbooks and sales plays must guide sales reps to prepare what questions to ask if they are to understand the buyers’ situation better, helping them through their buying journey. It is the first step to building a value-based sale.

To demonstrate this point, consider how you are developing your our sales playbooks and sales plays. Have you taken the time to understand better how it will support the sales team and supporting sales team address the different stakeholders involved in the buying decision for your solution?

Many of our sales playbooks and sales plays are inward-focused on our products, services and solutions. They often ignore the conversations, interactions, and questions we need to be managing that earn our audience’s trust. That trust enables us to influence and move those dealing with their buying struggles.

The more trust we earn, the more consistent we become closing a value-based sale when forecast. I discuss this further in the sales blog – Why are our sales playbooks failing us?

Often sales playbooks and sales plays fail because we are not clear on their purpose and expectations we set.

As sellers, we must step back and review our existing sales playbooks and sales plays. Only then can we create the opportunity to deploy the ultimate sales tool for supporting buyers through their buying journey.

Our internal decision-making preparing sales playbooks and sales plays needs the same disciplined approach as we are recommending to help buyers through their buying journey and make good purchase decisions.

Preparing sales playbooks requires the same discipline as good salesmanship

Why do so many sales and marketing leaders overlook the importance of involving stakeholders, which include sales reps, pre- and post-sales, friendly clients, when developing sales playbooks and sales plays?

We would not embark on cooking for friends without first having an intention what experience you want to create, checking their allergies, if they are vegan, and so on. We need to do the same when preparing the purpose of developing our sales playbooks and sales plays.

Too often, sales request marketing for a sales playbook. Is it fair to expect our marketing team to understand the buyers’ journey fully?

If we do not involve all stakeholders in scoping and developing our sales playbooks, how can we expect our sales reps to be focused on the buyers’ journey when the playbooks we offer them are inward-facing?

A good sales playbook and sales play will guide sales reps to discover insights and provide information that makes it easier for buyers through their buying journey. According to Gartner, 2.8 times easier, and three times more likely to result in buyers committing to a bigger deal with less regret.

The same is true for developing our sales playbooks and sales plays. If we make it easier for our sales reps supporting buyers through their buying journey, they will be more consistent forecasting a successful sale closure, and help them increase their average deal size.

If we are to increase the average sales value and forecast consistently, our sales playbooks must support sales teams adapt their questions to each stakeholders’ situation and struggle involved in the buying journey. Do this, and our sales teams will better position themselves to earn buyers’ trust. Only then can sellers help buyers work out how to solve their problems and in turn, position our proposition as the buyers’ ideal solution.

Clearly define your sales playbook, and sales plays purpose

Our sales playbooks and sales plays need to support our sales teams to adapt to different buyer groups’ situation. Adapting to our audience’s situation requires us to connect with all those influencing, making and processing the decision to buy.

We need to ask questions that uncover and discover insights helping buyers how to deal with their buying struggles and through their buying journey. We discuss the value of effective questioning skill in the sales blog – Why are our sales playbooks failing us?

Having focused our sales playbooks and sales plays on the buyers’ journey. We need to focus on how they will support sales reps and leaders better manage the sales engagement.

If we consider just the sales rep and the sales leader, each relies on the sales playbooks and sales plays but for different reasons.

  • Sales Reps – Sales playbooks and sales plays need to guide them to earn trust with each contact involved in or influencing the decision process. Support them help buyers move through their buying journey and build a value-based sale and forecast accurately.If we were to assume most of our sales team are inconsistent sales performers. A 5% improvement here will have a significant impact on our business’s sales revenue and bottom-line profit growth, team morale, quota and on target earnings attainment.
  • Sales Leadership – Sales playbooks and sales plays need to focus on strengthening our sales pipeline. Sales leaders should have one eye on achieving their immediate roll-up revenue goals. The other eye needs to be focused on achieving their companies’ longer-term value, revenue growth, and sustained profit goals.In the sales guide – 7 Sales Performance Management risks and how to avoid them ( ), we discuss for a business to succeed in achieving short-term profits goals and building long-term value growth and sustained profits, it needs to measure and reward two metrics:
  • Sales performance achieving short-term profit goals.
  • Sales behaviour to achieve long-term value growth and sustained profits.

The only way to support a selling business to consistently achieve both outcomes is to focus on helping move buyers through their buying journey.

Focus your sales playbooks on helping move buyers through their buying journey

Having appreciated the value of good questioning to understand how we can support buyers through their buying journey, consider the following three questions.

  • Do your sales playbooks and sales plays strengthen your sales pipeline? Most respondents typically say “Yes”.
  • Do your sales playbooks, and sales plays lay the foundations for a value-based sale? Most respondents typically say “Maybe”.
  • Do your sales playbooks, and sales plays to support your sales reps close their deals when forecast. With few exceptions, most respondents say “No”.

Why do we often receive a “Yes” to the first question and a “No” to the third?

The subtleties of conversation are complex. We should never take what people say literally. The conversation is the surface of sales, whereas real selling is what goes on beneath the surface

This conflicting feedback is a signpost on the surface of our sales conversations that we must dig deeper, ask more questions to discover more insights.

A good follow up question could be:

  • “Do your sales teams have a strong sales pipeline for the next three fiscal quarters?” Most sales leaders response with “No”.

This questioning example demonstrates why we should not settle for the first answer given. We need to go beneath the surface of the first answer and discover the real issues and struggles. With this question, we have uncovered the real problem and can continue to ask other questions to press on the urgency to act.

Asking good, searching questions is the foundation for value-based selling. By asking questions and discovering what is important to our audience, their struggles and priority needs, we can increase the risk of not acting on it.

This simple example demonstrates the questioning technique we must use to help buyers explore solutions to help address their buying struggles and problems. To help move them through their buying journey and make a good purchase decision that is right for our business and includes us.

Do this well, and we are helping buyers move through and complete one or more of their buying “jobs”.

  • Problem identification. “We need to do something.”
  • Solution exploration. “What is out there to solve our problem?”
  • Requirements building. “What exactly do we need the purchase to do?”
  • Supplier Selection. “Does this do what we want it to do?”
  • Validation. “We think we know the right answer, but we need to be sure.”
  • Consensus creation. “We need to get everyone on board.”

Consider crafting your questions to secure a “No” response

Considering the above series of questions, those we received a “Yes” or “Maybe”, offer us little value. However, the questions to which we received a “No” response allowed us to discover what concerned our audience. These questions also make our audience we safe and offer us a lot more value managing a sales engagement to closure when forecast. We discuss this in more depth in the sales blog – Why are our sales playbooks failing us?

In his book, Never Split the Difference, Negotiating as if your life depended upon it . Chris Voss explains how a “No” response changes the direction of the conversation. The “No” from the third question has allowed us to pivot and ask a follow-up question to reveal an objection we would otherwise have missed.

These objections help us re-energise our sales engagement helping stakeholders through their buying journey. It is this skill we need to foster and support in our playbooks and sales plays.

Failing to discover an objection can often mean the difference between winning and losing a forecasted deal, or it slipping into another fiscal quarter. It is here, below the surface of the conversation where effective selling begins.

We need to guide our sales teams, using our sales playbooks and sales plays to develop and sharpen their skill managing objections. We discuss this in more detail and guide our sales guide, How to handle the seven most common sales objections.

Pulling it all together…

Being effective selling and supporting buyers move through their buying journey is where our sales playbooks and sales plays must focus. Do it well, and we will earn buyers’ trust because we are helping them overcome their struggle to make a buying decision. That trust is key supporting us build a value-based sale and forecast accurately.

To transform our sales playbooks and sales plays into that killer sales tool we need, focus on the buyers’ journey. They need to guide salespeople to prepare for and ask good questions and handle objections to understand each stakeholders’ situation, their problems better and provide the information on how to solve them.

Instead of focusing our sales playbooks and sales plays on the solution, product or service we are selling. We need to focus them guiding salespeople to help customers overcome their struggles to make a purchase decision.

One area we can help you achieve this is to include a sales prospecting tool supporting salespeople have the conversations they need to earn trust, build a value-based sale and forecast accurately.

The Conversational Solution Sales Scorecard and Training Platform, is such a tool that will better guide salespeople to help buyers to make good purchase decisions. Moving the focus away from ourselves to helping buyers, we will strengthen our sales pipeline, better manage a value-based sale and improve our forecast accuracy.

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