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

Episode 60 · 6 months ago

Stacking Customer Requirements in Your Favor w/ Marty Mercer


Competitors catch up to your solutions. When they do, your “unique” differentiators won’t hold up.

Marty Mercer stops by the podcast to provide tips on steering a buyer’s solution requirements away from your competition (including an impending “do nothing” or “no decision”).

He teaches how to effectively prepare for conversations around decision criteria, so you can build out a list of buyer solution requirements that will validate a premium price. He also covers what to do when a customer shares a capability that you know your solution is at a disadvantage for.

This episode is one of those that you’ll want to save and come back to time and again for a refresher when you’re up against challenging competition or need a solid win.

Here are some additional resources on influencing customer requirements:

- Navigating the Decision Process with Multiple Buyers [Podcast]


- How to Ask Trap Setting Questions


- Prepare and Practice to Confidently Execute Sales Calls [Podcast]


- Front-line Manager Coaching Resources 


Check out this and other episodes of The Audible-Ready Podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website. 

We need to be asking questions in aplaned, thoughtful, sequential way, they're just discovery. Questionsthey've got o discover questions youwould ask I evaluates conversationso that at the ind of that conversation, the puspects is you know what partyTeri a you need that you're listening to the audible, ready,podcast, the show that helps you and your teams sell more faster willfeature sales leader sharing their best insights on how to create a salesengine that helps you feel repeatable revenue growth presented by the team: F,forced management, a leader in PTB sales, effectim Tis, let's get started hello and welcome to the audible, ReddySales Podcast, I'm Rachel clapmiller joined today by Marty, Mercar Hi Marty,Hey Rachel and thanks for it inviding me back, I'm glad to be back with you.We are glad to have you marty. I know we had traded messages back and forthabout what kind of things you wanted to talkabout, and I had asked you for a topic that was coming up with the people thatyou're working with with the organizations you're working with thesales teams. Your training and you had mentioned required capabilitiesstacking those requirements for the solution with the customer and I'll.Let everyone out there know just for fluency required capabilities is thecommand of the message term. We use at force management when we're saying thatwe're talking about solution requirements, those things that set thecriteria for the purchasing decision and, let's just start with anoverarching question Marty. Why do you think rap struggle with this concept?Yeah? It's a great question that that is where you got to start. I think whathappens in the real world is you know we get this list of we FRIS Ar Taukingthe prospect they say, hey here's the things! I need a new system to do.There's this list of requirements. They all tend to be very tectical, so wekind of want to jump in you want to jump in Tand show them how we can doall those things that they've asked us to do, and so one of the challenges is,I don't think in many cases they put...

...together a complete list. I think it'sgot a surface level of what their problems are, and so we jump in. Wetake the bat we jump in and we start showing them all up. You know how oursolution can map into that. Then, when we get done, we realize we narrow thescope of what our solution can do, because we were only responding to theprospects list and, secondly, were stuck with the price that match tothose capabilities and it turns into a price cave because the prospect sayswell Jeez, you know competitor ABC over. There is a lot less money than you so,but that's that first challenge, which is the customer, wants us to just jumparound and do what they say on their list. The second challenge is, youcan't take thebate. We got to take a step back instead of jumpingin andshowing them all the things that we can do is we got ta. Ask some questionsGoin to find out why those things are on the list and because we know at thatpoint we haven't done any influencing at the list and so thereis thatchallenge of this Ben of ansering quickly becaus it. That feelslike a human reaction. I'm going to quickly answer your question. Let'spick a step back and ask deep percens of questions to build a bigger listthat maps better to our price. Boyt yeah. It takes a discipline that not totake the bait right. So, let's shift to those best practices around this topic,getting the required capabilities to be in our favor, which really has to dowith making sure that our differentiation, our solution,differentiation, is part of the scenario a so what we want is is acollaborativelist. You want to list where the customer came to theconclusion that maybe we've already come to based on analysis in theHomewok that we've done so we wanted to be a clavter conversation, but onwea've influence, based on the questions that we've asked fo. That way,when we start asking these deferent questions, we start giving him to seethat the problem is bigger and deeper and wider than they originally thought.As we begin to help map in what those wit, car capabilities are they're,beginning to see US differently, the...

...competition seller they just jumped inand did the dimo right or the Presyn fation we're going to dig a little bitdeeper or differentiating ourselves based in those questions and will endup with a much better list of cardatabilities that we influenced andthat prospect's going to begin to see us not so much as a seller. I thinkthey're Goin to see as more as the problem solver and as in Adviteser,which is a great place to be exactly so. You have mentioned that that sayingwhoever owns the decision criteria owns owns a customerand. That's a reallyimportant thing to think through yeah. That would say you know only thecustomer, but what I would go, the step farter say were really owning thatselling and buying process. So when w the prospect gets with their teaminternally, here's Whar here's there's the. What we want is the future stateright. We had this meeting. We askd questions we Hont to build thisinfluence, Lice, O recuardd capabilities and we're done thecompetitors done. They Co often have another zoom meeting internally andthey're. Comparing the two presentations US ind, the competitor tothis list of decision criteria. Are We influence right? We out build it. Sothat's that's owning that process and the customer likes it, because it was aclar of collamrative conversation between the two of us, so that's thegreat spot to Beis when they're, making those decisions they're, comparing usto the competitor on a set of criteria that we help invence. That's where youwant to get yeah. We sometimes use this concept of controlling the deal. It'scontrolling the sales process and it's really about being informed andunderstanding what the dact decision criteria is, and so, if you caninfluence it, Al all the better, that's what you need to do and in order toinfluence it, you really have to make sure you're properly positioning yourdifferentiation in a way that has meeting to the buyer. And so how do youdo that? We got a dig deeper. We got to get Tho nowone better. We got to do ourhome regordiously Wel Gott. Ask Lots of questions to understand what are alltheir technical problems and the... impact that solving those eregoing to head av it. So we got to really be thinking an planning, thoseconversations, Hav Assen, these quality value, based conversations, so thatthen, when we get to present our solution, we are differentiating onthings that are important to us to differentiate on against ourcompetition, but we're presidenting a solution where the customer says ow.That's exactly what I need it's mapping into all my decision criteria, andclethe ones we helped influence, and we know that those of the capabilities andthe differentiators, where we're going to excel when they compare, is to thecompetition. So that is a keyky step, Rightyou're, managing that thatcompetition and we've talked a lot about it in our command of the message,trainings that while unique differentiators thingsthat you feel you have that nobody else has are great to have. But so often thedeal is one more on those comparative differentators, and this is one whereit's a really hard habit to break this idea. Well, I deed to sell on uniquedifferentators, and some sellers can get convinced that their success hasalways been on these unique capabilities and different shaters thatthey have, and nobody else has that's whay unique means you do it. Nobodyelse does well one day the compateris going to catch up. I mean that's justthe world of technology. We got et the unit today the competors are going tocatch up and they may Hav something unique today and we are going to catchup to them. So you have to really say to yourself. The Way to win is on thesecomparative different chaters things that we do and they do ut. We do hem ina different way in a better way that is meaningfor to the prospect. So if yougot a unique, you got to sell on it, but I think your compeditions probablygot e Nique one as well. So one of the things I tell our customers is stopsaying the word unique. Everyone puts te Vergitic in front ft of the weredifferentator every single time. They talk about it and Jjust talk about yourdifferen engators Tember, which happened to be unique, an majoritywhich happened to be comparative and we...

...have a lot of our customers that I'vework with they've only have comparative differentiators, which is okay, becauseyou're going to stack that list Wi car capabilities, but these competitcompared to differentiators and when I tell Hem, is you're just going to winby the sheer weight and volume of that list of capabilities. That's thethought process you got to have when you go into these entities.Opportunities, inthies world yeah, the most successful sellars really know howto use the comparative differentiation in order to help the customers reachthe conclusion that those are critically important and, as we alwayssay, that's done through great discovering you mentioned it earlier.Marty dig deeper. You want to hold. You want to really learn what the customerneeds, so you can lenk those comparative Differenc geators to what'simportant to the best way to do that is through great questions and discovered.I feel like every time I get these podcast, I'm always coming back togreat discovery, and then here we use a concept called trap, setting questionswith our form of discovery questions, but I know a lot of raps get tipped upon them yeah and there is sort of an issue. There's there's a couple thingson the mistery one is some people, don't like the word: trep Thi we'retrying to strap the customer. Of course that's not what we're trying to dowe're trying to trap the competitor. So lately I have been especially as we isweare spending so much time. You know working with sellars globally and someof the words trap. Don't translate well Ino other languages. So I've beensaying you word, set up questions you're, setting up and competitor oryourinfluencing influence question. So I fel Li. Whatever Word Delight, thepoint is this: We need to be asking questions in a plan, thoughtholdsequential way, they're just discovery, questions same kind of discover,questions. You would ask n the Valu based conversation so that, at the endof that conversation, the prospects is, you know what Marty you're right andyou need that. Let's add ot to the list an when we do the demo. You show me howyou do it, and so that's part of the...

...mystery. It is an industry. You got tothink about it ahead of time. You need to know the decision, Criteri GameAbiliie. You want the customer to take that they need, and then you justwalking through that DIA base conversation. Where are they today thenegative consequences and where they would like to be in the future, the Ouof the business alcoms? And what do you need to get there Wola a requireheepability that you know you're better? That's all that perhaps sendingquestion process is, I think where people fall apart, is they try to wingit and you can't wing it. You gotta plan out where you want to end up sothat you ask the right questions and you get to where you want to end upyeah, and that's really. I know how you teach it it. If you want to executethis well as a salesperson which involves asking reat questions butmapping, those are uncovering the required capabilities and mapping yourdifferentiation to them. This idea of stacking them- and you really have todo that by planning and starting with the end Ed mind. So what you want isthat list that you built with that prospect. You want them to ask thecompetitors to show them the same thing. Remember you set up Ti Copeditor, youstack a list of things that you know that you're either uniqualy orcomparatively better, and so what you really trying to project in the futureis that that prospect said Hey hou're, the things I want you to show me I'seen this from another vendor and you know chuckle chuckle, but they reallycan't do moth of those and they're going to kind of humble around a lot.Look very good and remember the prospect thinks they built the list.They did build the list at so they come out of that meeting say well. The onlycompany that can work is the first one that I talked to you last week, becauseyou know they help. They help me see that the competitor can do what theycan do so that that's what you want. What O you want to end up: Yeah Soi'm, curious Mardy when you'retalking about Prap, we talk so much about prap and the importance ofprepping and practicing, and you mentioned it too, when you're planningyour trapsetting questions or focusquestions, you can't wing it right. You...

...have to you have to plan. So how do youpret those question tracks, so you can get the conversation of where you needit to go, but it all goes back to that O that fently based conversation andunderstanding where they are today in those negative consequences and how badat its we got to make that feel very painful and then driving thatconversation to a better future state where the positive isiness outcomeswould be excellent. Incredible it's on thatpoint. The customer needs to be asking themselves. What do I need to get there?Why don't have it today now we're back to influencing that list of requirecapabilities? Some of those we know we want to get into the conversation, sowe're asking questions specifically to get the prospect to say yeah. I do wantthat and some of them they brought up and we know we're really good at it.But it's like anything in business, anything in sports. If you don't have agame plan you'R, you know you'll get somewhere, but it won't be where youwant to get, and so that's back to proper planning understandn thecustomer, using your precall plan and using your value framework anddiscovery, guys that you built ot with us to know the end an mind know: Whatdo you want to get yeah your colleague Brian Wall? She has a question that heoften h he likes to when we talk about gaining trusted, advisor status ordigging deep, and he has a a phrase that he says to the customer. You knowwhether or not you move forward with us is not the point. There are somecertain things you need to do with or without us, and what are they so takingyour solution out of it and getting the customer to talk about just the currentstate, whether or not you're in the your they buy your solution or not,there's a existing issue at that they need to solve and to get them to shockabout that. And you know some of some of the things like what Rian would talkabout in what I would talk about. I was sort of characterize his style. Somepeopleho are not quite as comfortable and being a little more ascertive, butI would even say: Hey here's telistic quit together, I'm going to email it toyou and when Howbany xliz comes in, I...

...want you to ask them to show you how todo those things. In fact, I wouldn't even care if you send in the email,because these are things you said you needed. So I mean again that might be a littleassertive for some folks, but most of my customers are customers that I deawith. I ask them your ial competitors. Aren't they always h? Usual setspects,don't you know who they are always going to look at? Yes? Well, then,don't worry about it, you culd say the company's name. You know, because youknow they' going to talk to them right right. It's so true an and you knowyour point about sending them the list. If it's really theirs, it's theirs right and ithas nothing to do with what your solution is. If you've stacked thoserequirements. Well, there we go. So I guess one of the topics that might be comingup for people listening to this is: How do we handle requests from prospectsquestions from prospects when they ask us about a capability that we don't door we don't do well? We know we have a disadvantage around. This come o everysingle time that we work with customers that and that's one of the reasons whypeople don't get even the trap. AIY questions is they're, worried aboutthis scenario when the prospect says. Oh, what about you know kipability Xyz,and so what I coach him up on is tombrace back actually love thatstatement, because the first question you want to ask automatically withoutany hesitation, very commonly instremely I's just to say, Hey, that'sinteresting before we get into that, though, let me ask you question: What'sthe positive business outcome of having that specific capability and you Goy toZip your lip, you got to be quiet and you go to give them to begin to stumblearound. I think mostly they'll stumgle, because the competitors are not usingcommanded. The message and the competitors aren't using the languageof positive business out comes o a...

...carriciapabilities, but what I thinkwill happen in most cases when you ask that question. Is that first, theprospect might say what do you mean by positive business outcomes and then youcan sort of smile and say hey great question, let's dig into that or theymay finally sayd. You know what those guys didn't really talk about positivebusiness outcomes. I don't know what myother misis outcome would be, andthen you get to say well, then, is it that important to have at? I think a lot of cases. They'll sayI guess not now. You've eliminated Yep, but IFF embraces kind of chuckle alittle bit and ask him that simple question. What positive thing is goingto happen if you had that capability yeah, that's a great way to get afterthat. I'm curious smarty what you would say if I'm a manager and I'm almostinspecting for differentiation and a deal. What am I looking for when I'mseeing those required capabilities and how am I making my reps in sure thatthey're stacked in our favor wel yeah, so you said two things: there sit thatAtat in our favorite right. So the first thing is there has to be a stacklist. I think this is adnausium all the time you can't win on one or two things.If you say your seller, Hey tell you what thole cin git abilities you andthe prospect put together and they say three things: I'm o look at Im Tan SA.You can't win on three things: Youneed, six or Eigh from you know some numberthat that's much bigger, so the first step is the number of recardcanabilities thatyou have influenced of a reasonable amount that you feel is going to giveyou some weight if you will hen. Secondly, what differenttradors arethose connecting into so that we know we are either uniquely or comparativelybetter and if weve only linked to jauniqe. U were sort of shine away fromthese things, w where the prospect may say: Oh well, the competitor can dothat too. We've got TA coach, our sellars say: Look the Dealis one of thelast IME compareative, I'm glad you got a couple of uniques, but we need to getfour o five more compartives in there.

So that again we can begin to stacktack that, because we can show- and maybe just pinting nuance ways how arcompared to heard of different changes ware better. So it's sort of a qualityquantity conversations. You got to have wheth your sellers about that list ofrequire capabilities. Yeah! That's that's a great point. We do have someawesome resources for managers on coaching raps, so I will link those upin the show notes. We also have some other great diffrenciation,differentiators type resoarches, that I will link up in Thi shownit, so beSharin to check that out and as Marty Asas we wrap up. I always like to saywhat is the bottom line and all this, if you had to share a closing thoughtabout this critically important topic, what would it be? Well, I didn't makethis up. I soldd from one of our guys, although I don't know who was insteadof but they said, the birthplace of differentiation- is that Stacke list ofrequired capabilities that we've influenced. You can't just startthrowing out your cool shiny objects. When you do may end up looking to oucomplex, you got to look too expensive. The birthplace is in that list ofrequired cap abilities. You want to differentiate. You got to create agreat list, one other thing. I my clothing thought is tryng to find outthe date that the competior is going to do their demio or the competitorisgoing to do. Thosetheir presentation, assuming you', got that stack list payabilities, but I want you to put the date on your calendar so when that dakeshows up, you can just smile all day long, knowing that there's acompetitive yours scorming around in fumbling, because they can't map up toCuar gapabilities that you've influenced that's right game on game onMarty. Well, thank you so much for joining mefor this conversation today, I'm glad to be here. I hope you hope Youiby meback again, sometimes too. Oh of course, of course, Marty and thank you to allof you for listening to the audible, ready sales podcast at force management.We're focused on transforming sales...

...organizations into elite teams, areproven methodologies. Deliver programs that build company alignment and fuelrepeatable revenue grow. Give your cheams the ability to execute the grossstrategy at the point of sale. Our strength is our experience. The proofis in our results. Let's get started visit us at force. Managementcom you'vebeen listening to the audible, ready podcast to not miss an episodesubscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Until next time.

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