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

Episode 60 · 9 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 ina planned, thought whole sequential way. They're just discovery questions. They've haddiscovery questions you would ask in the Value Bates conversation, but that at theend of that conversation the prospects of you know what party. You're right andyou need that. You're listening to the audible ready podcast. The show thathelps you and your team's sell more faster. Will feat your sales leader sharing theirbest insights on how to create a sales engine that helps you fuel repeatablerevenue growth, presented by the team if force management, a leader in BTBsales effectiveness. Let's get started. Hello and welcome to the audible ready salespodcast. I'm Rachel Clap Miller, joined today by Marty Merce Er. HiMarty, Hey Rachel, and thanks for inviting me back. I'm glad tobe back with you. We are glad to have you, Marty. Iknow we had traded messages back and forth about what kind of things you wantedto talk about and I had to ask you for a topic that was comingup with the people that you're working with, with the organizations you're working with,the sales teams you're training and you had mentioned required capabilities, stacking thoserequirements for the solution with a customer, and I'll let everyone out there nojust for fluency. Required capabilities is the command of the message. Term weuse a force management when we're saying that we're talking about solution requirements, thosethings that set the criteria for a purchasing decision. And let's just start withan overarching question, Marty. Why do you think wrap struggle with this concept? Yeah, it's a great question. That that is where you got tostart. I think what happens in the real world is, you know,we get this list of we first are talking the prospect. They say,Hey, here's the things I need a new system to do, here's thislist of requirements. They all tend to be very kechtical. So we kindof want to jump in. We want to jump in and show them howwe can do all those things that they've asked us to do. And soone of the challenges is I don't think in many cases they put together acomplete list. I think it's got a...

...surface level of what their problems are, and so we jump in, we take the bay, we jump inand we start showing them all you know how our solution can map into thatand when we get done we realize we narrow the scope of what our solutioncan do because we were only responding to the prospects list. And secondly,we're stuck with the price that maps to those capabilities and it turns into aprice game because the prospect said, well, Geez, you know, competitor ABCover there's is a lot less money than you. So that's that firstchallenge, which is the customer wants us to just jump around and do whatthey say on their list. The second challenge is we can't take the bait. We got to take a step back in instead of jumping in and showingthem all the things that we can do. Is We gotta ask some questions.We got to find out why those things are on the list and becausewe know at that point we haven't done any influencing at the list. Andso there's that challenge of instead of answering quickly, because it's the feel likea human reaction. I'm going to quickly answer your question, let's big astep back and ask deeper sense of questions to the build a bigger list thatmaps better to our price point. Yeah, it takes a discipline not not totake the bait right. So let's shift to those best practices around thistopic getting the required capabilities to be in our favor, which really has todo with making sure that our differentiation, our solution. Differentiation is part ofthe scenario. After what we want is is a collaborative list. We wantto list where the customer came to the conclusion that maybe we've already come tobased on the analysis in the homework that we've done. So we wanted tobe a clap to conversation, but one we've influenced based on on the questionsthat we've asked. But that way, when we start asking these deeper questions, we start getting in to see that the problem is bigger and deeper andwider than they originally thought. As we begin to help map in with thosecard capabilities are, they're beginning to see us differently the competition sellers, theyjust jump in into the demo right or...

...the present patient. We're going todig a little bit deeper. We're differentiating ourselves based in those questions and we'llend up with a much better list of a car capabilities that we influenced andthat prospects going to begin to see us not so much as a seller.I think they're going to see it's more of the problem solver and as anadvisor, which is a great place to be. Exactly. So you havementioned that, that saying whoever owns the decision criteria owns owns a customer,and that's a really important thing to think through. Yeah, that would say, you know, owning the customer bill. What I would go the step farther, saying we're really owning that selling and buying process. So when thethe prospect gets with their team internally, here's whatever, here's here's the waywe want as the future state. Right, we had this meeting, we askquestions, we help them build this influence as to required capabilities and we'redone. The competitors done, they go off and have another zoom meeting internallyand they're comparing the two presentations us in the competitor to this list of decisioncriteria. Are We influence? Right, we help build it. So that'sthat's owning that process and the cuspoper likes it because it was a cloud ofcollaborative conversation between the two of us. So that's the great spot to beis when they're making those decisions, they're comparing us to the competitor on aset of criteria that whelp to influence. That's what you want to get.Yeah, we sometimes use this concept of controlling the deal. It's controlling thesales process and it's really about being informed and understanding what the that decision criteriais, and so if you can influence it, all the better. That'swhat you need to do. And in order to influence that, you reallyhave to make sure you're properly positioning your differentiation in a way that has meaningto the buyer. And so how do you do that? We got todo deeper, we got to get to known better, we got to doour homework. Obviously we'll get to ask lots of questions to understand what areall their technical problems and the business impact...

...that solving those we're going to have, and so we got to really be thinking and planning those conversations, askingthese quality, value based conversations so that then when we get to present oursolution, we are differentiating on things that are important to us to differentiate onagainst our competition. But we're presenting a solution where the customer says, wow, that's exactly what I need. It's mapping into all my decision criteria,including the ones we helped influence, and we know that those are the capabilitiesin the differentiators will we're going to excel when they comparison the competition. Sothat is key, key step. Right, you're managing that competition. We've talkeda lot about it in our command of the message trainings that while uniquedifferentiators, things that you feel you had that nobody else has, are greatto have, but so often the deal is one more on those comparative differentiators, and this is one where it's a really hard habit to break this ideaof well, I need to sell on unique differentiators, and some sellers canget convinced that their success has always been on these unique capabilities and differentiators thatthey have and nobody else has. That's what unique means. You do itnobody else does. Well, one day the competitor is going to catch up, and not just the world of technology. We got something unique to day thecompetitors are going to catch up and they may have something unique today andwe are going to catch up to them. So you have to really say toyourself the way to win is on these comparative differentiators, things that wedo and they do, but we do them in a different way, ina better way that is meaningful through the prospect. So if you got aunique you got to sell on it, but I think your competition is probablygot a unique one as well. So one of the things I told ourcustomers just stop saying the word unique. Everyone puts the word unique in frontof the word differentiator every single time they talked about it. And you justtalk about your differentiators, some of which happen to be unique, the majoritywhich happened to be comparative. And we...

...have a lot of our customers thatI've work with they only have comparative differentiators, which is okay, because you're goingto stack that list required capabilities. But these competitive comparative differentiators, andwhen I tell them is you're just going to win by the sheer weight andvolume of that list of capabilities. That's the thought process you got to havewhen you go into these nd of these opportunities, into these world. Yeah, the most successful sellers really know how to use the comparative differentiation in orderto help the customers reach the conclusion that those are critically important and, aswe always say, that's done through great discovering. You mentioned it earlier,Marty. Dig Deeper you want to hold, you want to really learn what thecustomer needs so you can link those comparative differentiators to what's important to thebest way to do that is through great questions and discovery it. I feellike every time I did these podcast I'm always coming back to great discovery.And then here we use a concept called trap setting questions, which are ourform of discovery questions, but I know a lot of reps get tripped upon them. Yeah, and there is sort of a mystery. There's athere's a couple things on the mystery. One is some people don't like theword trap. Think we're trying to trap the customer. Of course that's notwhat we're trying to do. We're trying to trap the competitor. So latelyI have been especially is we is we're spending so much time, you know, working with sellers globally and some of the words trapped don't translate well intothe languages. So I've been saying the word set up questions. You're settingup the competitor or you're influencing influence questions. So I found on whatever word youlike. The point is this. We need to be asking questions ina plan thoughtful, sequential way. They're just discovery questions, same kind ofdiscovery questions you would ask in the value based conversation, so that at theend of that conversation the prospects is you know already you're right and you needthat. But add that to the list. When we do the Demo, youshow me how you do it. It's so that's one of the mysteryis it is in industry. You got... think about it ahead of time. You need to know the decision criteria. Came to bill as. You wantthe customer to say that they need and then you just walk them throughthat value based conversation. Where are they today, the negative consequences and wherethey would like to be in the future? The other this outcomes and what doyou need to get there? While I require capability that you know you'rebetter. That's all that perhaps sending question process is. I think where peoplefall apart is they try to wing it and you can't wing it. Yougotta plan out where you want to end up, so that you ask themright questions and you get the where you want to end that. Yeah,and that's really I know how you teach it. It's if you want toexecute this well as a salesperson, which involves asking great questions, but mappingthose, uncovering the required capabilities and mapping your differentiation to them. This ideaof stacking them, and you really have to do that by planning and startingwith the end in mind. So what you want is that list that youbuilt with that prospect. You want them to ask the competitors show them thesame thing. Remember your you set up the competitor. You Stack the listof things that you know that you're either uniquely or comparatively better. And sowhat you're really trying to project into future is that that prospect. So today, here's the things I want you to show me by seeing this from anothervendor, and you know, chuckle, chuckle, but they really can't domost of those and they're going to kind of fumble around a lot. Lookvery good. And remember, the prospect thinks they built the list. Theydid build the lists. So they come out of that meeting saying, well, the only company that can work is the first one that I talked toyou last week because you know, they help. They help me see thatthe competitor can't do what they can do so that that's where you want towhere you want to end up. Yeah, so I'm curious, Marty, whenyou're talking about prep and we talk so much about prep and the importanceof prepping and practicing, and you mentioned it too, when you're planning yourtrap setting questions or focus questions, you...

...can't wing it right. You haveto you have to plan. So how do you prep those question tracks soyou can get the conversation of where you need it to go? But itall goes back to that, to that family based conversation and understanding where theyare today in those negative consequences, how bad at it. We got tomake that feel very painful, and then driving that conversation to a better futurestate where the positive business outcomes would be excellent, incredible. And so atthat point the customer needs to be asking of themselves, what do I needto get there? Why don't have it today? Now we're back to influencingthat list of require capabilities. Some of those we know we want to getinto the conversation so we're asking questions specifically to get the prospect to say,yeah, I do want that, and some of them neighbor bad up andwe know we're really good at it. But it's like anything, ifsiness anythingin sports, if you don't have a game plan, you're you know,you'll get somewhere, but it won't be where you want to get. Andso that's back to proper planning. Understand the customer using your precall plan andusing your value framework and discovery guys that you built that with us, toknow the end in mind, know where you want to get. Yeah,your colleague Brian Walls Sheet has a question that he often are. He likesto when we talk about gaining trusted advisor status. Are Digging deep and hehas a phrase that he says to the customer. You know, whether ornot you move forward with us is not the point. There are some certainthings you need to do with or without us. And what are they?So taking your solution out of it and getting the customer to talk about justthe current state, whether or not you're in the your they buy your solutionor not. There's a existing issue that that they need to solve and toget them to talk about that. And you know some of some of thethings, like what Ryan would talk about it, what I would talk about. I was sort of characterized his style. Some people are not quite as comfortablein being a little more certi but I would even say, Hey,here's the list of put together. How many email it to you and when? How many Xually Z comes in.

I want you to ask them toshow you how to do those things. In fact, I wouldn't even careif you said in the email, because these are things you said you needed. So I mean again, that might be a little sertive for some folks, but most of my customers are customers that I deal with. I askedthem your competitors, aren't they always usual suspects? Don't you know who theyare always going to look at? Yes, well, then don't worry about it. You could say the company's name, you know, because you know they'regoing to talk to him. Right, right. It's so true. Andand you know your point about sending them the list. If it's reallythere's, it's there's right, and it has the thing to do with whatyour solution is. If you've stacked those requirements, well, here we go. So I guess one of the topics that might be coming up for peoplelistening to this is how do we handle requests from prospects, questions from prospectswhen they ask us about a capability that we don't do or we don't dowell or we know we have a disadvantage around? It's come up every singletime that we work the customers and that's one of the reasons why people don'tget deep in the traps any questions is they're worried about this scenario when theprospect says, Oh, what about capability x, Y Z and so whatI coach them up on is to embrace that. Actually love that statement,because the first question you want to ask automatically, without any hesitation, verycalmly and stagingly, just to say hey, that's interesting. Before we get intothat, though, let me ask you a question. What's the positivebusiness outcome of having that specific capability? And you got to Zip your lip, you got to be quiet and you got to get them to begin tostumble around. I think mostly they'll stumble because the competitors are not using committedthe message in the competitors aren't using the language of positive business outcomes or carcapabilities. What I think will happen in...

...most cases when you ask that questionis that first the prospect might say, what do you mean by positive businessoutcomes, and then you can sort of smiles it. Hey, great question, let's dig into that. Or they may finally say, you know what, those guys didn't really talk about positive business outcomes. I don't know whatmother this is outcome would be. And then you get to say, wellthen, is it that important to have that? I think a lot ofcases they'll say, I guess not, and now you've eliminated yep, butget embrace it, kind of chuckle a little bit and ask them that simplequestion. What positive thing is going to happen if you had that capability?Yeah, that's a great way to get after that. I'm curious, Marty, what you would say if I'm a manager and I'm almost inspecting for differentiationand a deal, what am I looking for when I'm seeing those required capabilitiesand how am I making my reps and sure that they're stacked in our favor? Well, yeah, so you said two things. There since stack inour favorite right. So the first thing is there has to be a stacklist. I think this is add nauseum all the time. You can't winon one or two things. If you say that your seller, Hey tellyou why. They requite gettabilities you in the prospect put together and they saythree things, coming to look at him and say you can't win on threethings, you need six or eight or you know some number that that's muchbigger. So the first step is the number of card gettabilities that you haveinfluenced of a reasonable amount that you feel is going to give you some weight, if you will. And secondly, what differentiators are those connecting into,so that you know we are either uniquely or comparatively better and we've only linkedto unique convert sort of shine away from these things where the prospect may say, oh well, the competitor can do that too. We got to coachour sellers. It's a look the deals, one and last and comparative. I'mglad you got a couple uniques, but we need to get four orfive more comparatives in there so that again...

...we can begin to stack back that, because we can show, and maybe just tiny nuanced ways, how arecomparative compared of differentiators are better. So it's sort of a quality quantity conversationyou got to have with your sellers about that list of require capabilities. Yeah, that's that's a great point. We do have some awesome resources for managerson coaching wraps, so I will link those up in the show notes.We also have some other great differentiation differentiators. Were type resources that I will linkup in the show notes. So be sure to check that out.And, as Marty ends, we wrap up. I always like to saywhat is the bottom line and all this? If you had to share a closingthought about this critically important topic, what would it be? Well,I didn't make this up. I stole it from one of our guys,although I don't know who as it said it, but they said the birthplaceof differentiation is that stacked list of required capabilities that we've influenced. You can'tjust start throwing out your cool shiny objects. When you do made of looking toocomplex, you got to look too expensive. The birthplace is in thatlist of required capabilities you want to differentiate. You got to create a great list. What other thing in my clothing thought is trying to find out thedate that the competitor is going to do their demo or the competitor is goingto do those feet their presentation. Assuming you got that stack list capabilities,and I want you to put the date on your calendar so when that dayshows up you can just smile all day long going that there's a competitive ofyours scorming around and fumbling because they can't map up to the car capabilities thatyou've influenced. That's right. Game on, game on, Marty. Well,thank you so much for joining me for this conversation today. I'm gladto be here. I hope you hope you buy me back again sometime soon. Oh, of course. Of course, Marty, and thank you to allof you for listening to the audible ready sales podcast. At force managementwe're focused on transforming sales organizations into elite...

...teams. Are Proven methodologies deliver programsthat build company alignment and fuel repeatable revenue growth. Give your teams the abilityto execute the growth strategy at the point of sale. Our strength is ourexperience. The proof is in our results. Let's get started. Visit US atforce MANAGEMENTCOM. You've been listening to the audible ready podcast. To notmiss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. Untilnext time,.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (147)