As we’ve discussed here (Who is Buying? Identifying the right stakholders in your deal) and here (Knowing the 5.4 people in your deal), how companies buy high-value goods and services has changed pretty radically over the last decade. So has the pressure on sales organizations to accurately forecast and drive revenue.
Meanwhile, the selling environment has never been tougher. Think about it. How much harder is it now to sell your offering compared to five or ten years ago? How much harder is it to find a high quality deal?
Here’s the problem: most of us in the business have been trained to sell to power. Get that meeting with the CXO. Tailor your message and content accordingly. Don’t waste your time with anyone else. Meanwhile, the buying center has grown. It’s no longer a specific role or title. It’s multiple stakeholders.
If we take a look at what separates elite sales squads apart right now, it’s not how well they sell (in the conventional sense). It’s their ability to build consensus across numerous stakeholders in the buying center. They realize it’s no longer about selling to one or two people; it’s about shepherding a group of very different people towards alignment and agreement.
So, how do you get experienced sales people to change their approach? It boils down to three requirements:
- A black belt in social selling. You have to understand the personality differences and preferences of each stakeholder. That means finding the “places” where stakeholders gather, then listening and responding. It could be a LinkedIn group, Twitter dialogue, an association or conference. Most likely, it’s a combination of these and many more.
- Lots and lots of it! You have to demonstrate empathy for the stakeholder and that starts by shifting the focus away from your objective to learning about theirs. Start by asking questions that fall outside of your sales rhetoric. What risks do they have to take to buy? What do they stand to win or lose? What are their personal goals within the organization? How are they being judged by their peers and higher-ups? What do they think about the competition? The key here is knowing when to listen and when to promote your offerings. (Hint: more of the former, less of the latter!) Related article: Empathy is the killer app!
- An understanding of how to identify and coach advocates for change. The folks at CEB (authors of The Challenger Sale and The Challenger Customer) call them “mobilizers.” These people are focused on growing the business and making the changes required to achieve that growth. They inherently have influence across the organization and are ideal partners for building consensus across the buying center. Roles and titles don’t matter here. We recently published a white paper with a list of questions to help you identify and qualify mobilizers – more info here.
The transformation from sell-to-power to consensus building is a journey (one that ARPEDIO’s tools support) – but it all starts with these three areas.
Stop selling; start consensus building. Learn more in our complimentary white paper, “A Definitive Guide to Pain-free Stakeholder Management.”