By Connie Schlosberg, Primary Intelligence
When a software client grew frustrated with their dismal results from efforts to improve sales, they knew they needed to find out exactly what their buyers wanted. They were confident their clients liked the software, and that it was superior to the competition, but they couldn’t figure out why their win rate was not higher.
The client’s top executives and sales manager told us that they wanted to learn how to improve sales practices. They just didn’t understand where they succeeded and where they failed. The sales teams blamed the pricing or missing features, but none of them requested feedback from their buyers.
Once we started discussing sales opportunities with their buyers, the sales manager realized how much more relaxed buyers are when discussing the deals and how receptive they are to offering valuable feedback. The sales manager said, “You got to the real story and shared it back with us in a language that [we] can understand…that can feed into all of our decision making.”
Because of these improvements they have been able to maintain a 100 percent annual growth rate.
You, too, can have great success in closing more sales—including pre-empting a possible “no decision”— by applying the same principles this company used to your program.
Improve Your Win Rate With Better Buyer Intelligence
This software client’s win rate significantly improved with buyer feedback. The marketing folks are now armed with the intelligence they need to craft messages, which highlight the benefits of their software. The client discovered additional features that buyers desired. Now the company offers these new features by partnering with other organizations that can help fill in the gaps.
How did they get there?
We not only analyzed their competitive wins and losses, but those opportunities where the buyer opted out of selecting any solution. Our client couldn’t understand why some buyers would go through the evaluation process, but then decide to keep their current software. We noticed that many of their buyers needed to update their current procedures before any new solution could be adopted. Basically these buyers were putting the cart before the horse, resulting in a “no decision” that caused the buyer to postpone the decision until a later date.
Don’t think “No Decisions” are Lost Causes
Now knowing why “no decisions” typically happen with their buyers, the sales team developed specific techniques to use with these buyers that have greatly reduced the chances of the buyers postponing their purchase decision. The sales team has found that when they assist the buyer in this process, they have a better chance of closing the deal.
The company makes a conscience effort to distribute buyer feedback throughout the company. This includes the sales representatives, sales managers, marketing, product management, and customer support teams. The CEO feels they have a real understanding of what buyers are saying about them: “By staying on top of understanding this critical customer feedback, [it] has really helped us to continue to grow our organization so rapidly.”
This client is consistently responding to what they learn from their Win Loss Analysis program and making appropriate changes throughout the company.
“We’re trying to constantly improve multiple processes, so multiple things are getting changed along the way — every month, every quarter… Input that we’ve received from Primary Intelligence has allowed us to sustain our ongoing close to 100 percent growth year after year.”
What You Can Do:
We know how much effort you put into a sales opportunity. It’s frustrating to work on a sale only to find out the buyer made no decision at all. Here are some recommendations you can apply to help avoid “no decisions” in the future.
Be flexible. Check your sales approach. Are you being flexible with your offering? Are you meeting the buyer’s needs? For example, are you offering the client a solution built for a large-sized company when they have less than a 100 employees?
Make it easy to purchase from you. Sometimes, the buyer may have been ready to purchase but the sales process was too confusing. When our Director of Industry Insights, Carolyn Galvin, was a program consultant, she interviewed a “No Decision” respondent. She said, “It was apparent our client’s sales team completely missed the mark, selling a product that didn’t exist, changing pricing and licensing terms numerous times and without logic, and requesting introductions with senior executives to further the sales team’s own agenda. When asked if her company would consider evaluating our client at a later date, the respondent sighed and replied, ‘Right now, we’re just trying to get over the post-traumatic stress of it all.’”
Get the decision makers on board as quickly as possible. Having the right people involved with the discussions from the start will help decrease the sales cycle and make it easier for the buyer to make a decision.
Find buyers’ pain points. Tapping into buyers’ pain points could prompt them to make a decision sooner. It’s key to tie your features to how they solve their specific issues. Think concrete, not abstract. “Our security system ensures 24-hour surveillance of your property. We have a security team of 20 licensed security specialists working around the clock using state-of-the-art equipment to ensure your safety.” versus “We’ll watch your building.”
Look to the bright side when your buyer decides not to purchase any solution. You may feel there is nothing positive about a “no decision.” After all, you didn’t win. Treat this “no decision” as a possible win in the future. Here’s some advice from Program Consultant Ralph Nielsen:
“No decisions can be just as important as the losses, and in some cases, they may be even more valuable because they could turn into wins. They have just put the decision on hold, so we can discuss why and what our client can do when they open it up again in the near future. I usually call these gold nuggets, because there is immediate potential in some cases. We can provide our clients with the leverage and understanding they need to get it over the goal line and turn that no decision into a win. For the ones that don’t have immediate potential, we can still help them understand what is causing their prospects not to move forward, and see if there is anything our client could be doing differently.”
Plan a Course of Action:
One of the secrets to staying on top with your sales game is to always be in a mode of action planning. Here are few tips.
Gather detailed information. The more information you can obtain from your buyers, the more likely you’ll have the necessary repository needed to produce an effective action plan.
Leave no stone unturned. One interview with a buyer may seem futile to discover anything worthwhile. However, one opportunity may reveal something useful that may have gone unnoticed before. This one tidbit may be the keystone to the root cause of why you’re losing and may help with prioritizing your action plan.
Involve senior leadership. Be sure to invite your senior leadership to your sales debriefs/meetings. We encourage our clients to include their C-level executives to attend our Discovery sessions. Program Consultant RoxAnne Loosle, shared “During a discussion, it was decided that there was still an opportunity to present a better product/solution to the client, who had not finalized its decision. An action plan was developed to present the product and repair the damage done. It’s important to ensure that debriefs include the product leaders and sales leaders who can commit to actions and will hold the group and themselves responsible for completing them.”
For a replay of our Webinar with Primary Intelligence, “How Sales Teams Can Win MORE Opportunities through Understanding Buyer Needs,” CLICK HERE. For more information about Primary Intelligence, please visit: www.primary-intel.com