The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast
The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast

Episode · 3 years ago

Aligning with Your Buyer

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Uncovering business problems provides you, as a salesperson, the ability to effectively map your solutions to the customer's required capabilities. Senior Partner Paul DeMore shares his best practices for aligning to the buyer in your discovery questions.

Hello and welcome to the force management podcast. My name is Rachel Clap Miller, and today we are talking about a critical component to sales success, building buyer alignment. We're going to talk more about executing discovery and executing great follow up. I'm joint now by Paul Demore, who is our senior partner. Hello, Paul, Hey Rachel, how are you good? I'm so glad to have you on our podcast today, your first inaugural appearance. Very excited and the reason we decided on this topic because it really came out of a conversation that you and I were having about research aligned to the buyer. This research came from primary intelligence. It looked at bedb buyers and in their research they uncovered one point five billion dollars in lost under revenue that vendors could have won. And the number one reason why those vendors lost, or the one factor that would have made a difference, is if they understood the buyers business needs. Absolutely. One of the points we're trying to make here as we talk about pre call planning and executing great discovery, is the more that you can demonstrate you understand the buyer, the better luck you'll have. Yeah, and I got to tell you right at the beginning to like your topic about buy our alignment rather than product positioning. Right, we're it's it's interesting is we're specifically talking about the buyer as we prepare for our sales calls. And you know, one of the things that we've talked about over the years is something that we got some research are read about at one point in time when we talk about seller deficit disorder. Right, as a seller, you walking into a real opportunity and, whether you know it or not, the executives look at you with two strikes. Right, number one is you don't know my business and number two is you don't listen. And and in order to overcome that, we need to better understand their business and come prepared with a bunch of questions to listen to how they're doing their business today. Right, you're starting from behind the a boll right. They already think you're going to you're a chisty salesperson. Then is going to wait forgot about right, and...

...it reminds me of when you're walking in there and you got new product releases, you got new solutions that you want to go to market, you want to talk about it, but in reality you need to wait and understand what it is. And so, from a sales point of view, the thing that I like to talk about or what we call three critical sales skills, right, really critical sales skills. Yeah, and these are these are fundamental in nature, right when you hear about them the first time, like, for example, the first one from a seller is to uncover the customer needs, is to truly discern what the customer really needs, and it's from their point of view, not your solution. So truly understand what the with the the needs are of the buyer and and and specifically why you're going to be in a meeting with them. Number two is provide value and differentiation, because in reality, if they could do it without you, they're going to do it without you, right. So there needs to be a way for you to provide value and also differentiate why your solution is better than the competition, number one, but also against the competition of do nothing. And then the third thing is ultimately negotiate value. And if you're able to to do that, started at the beginning of the campaign, everything gets easier. Is the further you go on. And when I say they're fundamental sales skills. They are. But my comment to other people is I will talk in say compare it to golf. Right, I'm a golfer. Are you a golfer? I try, I'm really good on the driving range. Well, if you think about golf, you your tea off, you hit the ball in the fairway and then you put it on the green and you want or to put and if you do that all the time, you're going to be a professional golfer. But we all know the reality is it's not that easy. And so when we think of uncovering customer needs, there are people out there that do a much better job, which support the proof point that you shared at the beginning about the more you know, the better chance you have a winning right it these critical sales skills you can run through in your light. You...

...sit there need to say, of course, right, of course it's easy to get to get the ball in the green. Until any of you have set on the tea box and try to get a they're right, let alone in front of millions of people watching at home. Right, it's not. It's not so easy. So, as we think about it, I think those critical sales skills they're seemingly easy, but they're basic sales fundamentals and no matter how long you've been doing this, you really have to force yourself to take a step back and say this is not about me and my solution. I need to uncover those needs first, because I can't even talk about my solution in a way that matters unless I know what those needs are. So it really forces you to hold tight to those fundamentals, if you remember them well, and that's it, and I'll because you have a lot offering, right, if you're a software high tech firm that has a lot of solutions, you can do a lot of things. But in reality, unless you're specifically talking about the things that you do that aligned to the problems that they have, you're talking about things that they're not interested in and you are going to get people to start to phase you out. Such a down shut you down. Yeah, right, so we it's seemingly easy. We know it's not. So let's talk a little bit Paul, and how we uncover those challenges and executing effective discovery. You've been doing this a while. When can you jump in on an initial conversation and you know your goal is to uncover challenges. How are you approaching it? What are you doing? So it's you know, it's a lot of preparation ahead of time, right, and you know we talked about you better oppreparing internally and practicing your call internally, or are you better off doing in front of the customer? Obviously you do it in the background, right. And so it always comes down to really defining the roles on who is coming with you. So, if you're a seller, what is your specific role in the call? Right, if you're a pre salesperson or solutions consultant, or even your management right, if it's the manager with you, who is doing what and what is a great outcome...

...from your point of view? Right, in order to advance the sales cycle. A lot of times we used to use this expression back at PTC, back in one thousand seven, nineteen, ninety eight, the good old day. Yeah, the good old days. But we we should talk about the black hole where you would go into a sales call, have a great discovery and nothing would happen, right, and the reason being is you didn't attach to a business problem. So how do you avoid that? Number one is to align the right people. The second thing is around precall planning is to start to figure out, using your background the web, who who with the company? Where the latest press releases? What are the value drivers that they're focused on? And then take it down a level. Who are the people that are going to be in the room with you? Who are you connected with on Linkedin? How are they connected with your other customers? Right, and where do they come from? And if they are, what I always like to ask sellers if they are new into a senior leadership position and they're in your meeting, why were they hired? Right, if they're, if they're, if they're a senior leader and they were hired, they were hired to fix a business problem. Right. So we need to understand that a little bit more than the last thing to do is talk about discovery questions. What are the questions you're going to have already prepared when you walk in that are both open ended and close ended? Open ended using Ted, yeah, right, tell me, explain to me. Described to me right, having fun with that, to facilitated discussion, but then also the closed ones that allow you to get specific when you're actually going to go to scoping or proposal, you have the specific information. HMM, how do you know in the conversation? So if you know your roles to drive the discovering, you open up with your first discovery question, how do you know you have enough to move to the next topic? Are you taking great notes? Are you, I aming the other people on the call, like how are you maneuvering that conversation to make sure you're really uncovering what you need to know about that business problem? Yeah, so the first thing is that really helps with that.

And this is a great tidbit little thing to ask, and I challenge the people that are listening to the podcast the next time they ask on a call, when they do the introductions, is to specifically ask the B I or what is a great outcome that they're looking to achieve for this call right by getting what they would define as a great outcome. Well, let you ensure that you're moving in the right direction. Yeah, that's a great point. So, and it goes back to what we were saying earlier. You're trying to align to the buyer and what he or she wants to get to so hown'. Ask what they's a great outcome for them at that at the start of the call, when you finish the call. As long as you hit that outcome, you've won, even if you still have to go and do more discovery and you have to do more. And another thing we always like to talk about is having is being audible ready, right, having the ability to pivot on the call depending on who is in attendance or what the specific outcome is, right, and what their desired outcome is. And then the other thing is it's always being patient. Right. You see a lot of sellers that want to immediately start talking about who they are and what the greatest releases are, like a dog on a bone, right. And so what we need to do in a first call discovery. A good outcome for us as a sales organization is it come out with a business problem, differentiate yourself is a seller so that you can help them solve their business problems and then ultimately earn the right to advance. Right. Okay, so let's talk about you're having a great conversation, you're in discovery. You know you're pushing to you that great outcome at the end of the call. It's really critical. You have to own the next step because you're not going to get it all done in one call, right. So what are you doing as a salesperson during that call to ensure you're able to play it back in a way that's meaningful to that buyer? So that's a great question. And and and obviously take a notes. We're all taken notes, but then it comes back to...

...what are notes that are actually going to help advance a sales cycle and what are notes Nice to have right? And when I like to think about what are the ones that we could do to start build our value message, to communicate everything that we heard? And so when I am going through it, I try to get it into four buckets. Okay, right, the first bucket is truly the background of the organization, the company that we're dealing with and and and maybe the future of where the company's going or what their growth goals are for the next so many years. But what is the background about the business and what they're trying to achieve? The second thing is it's listening to the challenges. Right, what are the things that they're struggling with today that's really causing them to have the meeting with you? Right, at the end of the day, they're having a meeting because they have a business problem that they can solve. It's your job to figure out what that is. And then the third thing is, if you're able to, as a company, address those challenges, what are the positive business outcome ms that they're looking to achieve after they partner with you? And then, ultimately, what are the required capabilities needed to achieve those positive business outcomes? And and if you could do that, you're starting to build out a value based conversation that's all about the buyer right, because up into this point the backgrounds about the company. Their challenges are about the company, the PVOs are about their company and the required capabilities on how that company be successful. We are having a buyer base conversation and outside in conversation about them. Yeah, you're by the activities that you're doing. You're ensuring that that happens. Right now, overcoming seller diffages such order your differentiating yourself as a seller, and you're also helping them get to a place that they can get without yourself, your help. Sure, so you're taking great notes. Right. You got it together, I think, as you defining the roles, probably in your precallplanning, you know...

...the person who's going to be playing back the the what we heard right so how do you validate what you heard when? Yeah, how are you doing that? So that that's so, that's a great call. So all of a sudden you have you have your call and your first discovery call is great, right, and and you're starting to understand this. Typically, at what I would do is send up an email, a fill allow up email. Right, you used to do letters, not anymore, but we send out follow up emails. That was ninety seven. Ninety seven. They were effective. Well, the type? No, but you would send out a follow up email and, thinking the people in the room, I always outline the outcome that they wanted to achieve and make a sentence or two about that and then say hey, based on what we heard, you know, based on the call, this is what I heard, you know, and I would review, maybe not the background, but I would review their challenges, their PBOS, positive business outcomes and the required capabilities and then talk about the next steps that we agreed to. and and it's email. So I understand that not everybody reads emails, right, they don't print them out, they don't digest them. But what you do on the next call? The first thing you do is validate everything you heard, right, and and the way we do it here at force management is we do a what we heard section. That will show the background and challenges. Will Review that with the audience and then say, is there anything we're missing? Is there anything I didn't get correct the first time? Then the same thing with the PBOS and the required capabilities. Once you get the buy in on what the required capabilities are, that's when you can pivot the conversation to start talk about how you do it and how you do it better than the competition. Right. Sure, for those of you have had commanded the messages that back nine of that value of framework, and I think those emails are so powerful because they help frame the next conversation. I think it also is a great sign that you are opening this dialog with the prospect the buyer, that you're kind of in this together, like we're developing the case for the solution together, and one of the...

...things email does is helps you, helps you assist them to make the case internally, because those can easily be forwarded. Yeah, and it's the same thing with your champion and anything you write, anything you write you want to go with. The assumption in my little world of happiness is that I live in that it will be forwarded onto the right people. So I truly believe that I make sure that that's the case. The other thing, you know, what that you learn about champions and the people that are going to get the job done. You know, the question we used to ask back and new hire training was who's on site more at the buyer, the you or the champion? While the champions they are ninety nine percent of the time right. So you need to start take your value based message and have it start to be able to be repeated internally by others that are in the buying process well necessarily having to come from you. Yeah, do you think? I always like to ask where do people go go wrong with this? Where does it go wrong? And I think you might have touched on him. I'm going to ask if you think this is where people go wrong. It seems to be if we talk about seller deficit dis order and you're doing great discovery, you hear the problems that align with your solution and you get excited right. to solve it. So you want to just start talking about the how we do it. But it's really that discipline to hold back. Would you say? That's where the land mines people hit sometimes. Yeah, and I and and and one of the comments you have when you talk to sales leaders is you ask a sales vice president is how long into a sales call does it take your sellers to start talking about your company and your products? Right? Is it ten minutes? Is it fifteen minutes? And a lot of times they laugh and they say it's within the first five. Whether it's true or not, I don't know. But the idea is is to truly attach yourself to the BIS biggest problem and to really do effective discovery, because it will differentiate and it will give you better results. Right now, great discovery precallplane.

You can't really underestimate preparation. That's probably kind of the bottom line here. As we talked about all this, absolutely and and and when would like, I said, definding the roles, having your material set up, being albol ready to pivot if you need to, but also knowing what it takes to be successful in the call, you'll be in great shape, great, awesome. Thank you so much, called war. Thank you, Rachel and joining us. Thank you to all of you for listening to our podcast. Don't forget subscribe soundcloud and itunes.

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