Buyers are vulnerable people
Just like you, buyers have hopes, fears, and ambitions. They need to protect their position, answer their boss’ questions and increase their value to their employer. More than ever, buyers want to learn. They don’t have time for 20 questions along the lines of ‘what keeps you awake at night?’. Instead buyers value people who can give them real insight into their marketplace, the challenges competitors are facing and what these companies are doing to try and gain an edge. Buyers also know they don’t know all the answers. They need to look at alternate viewpoints, different ways of addressing the challenges they face. So, they want to work with experts who know the marketplace and can help them personally and professionally. These are the people to whom they award business.
Help buyers be better at their job
Effective sales people provide insight and knowledge in all these areas. Really successful sales people have a strong marketing team that provides this support on a continuous basis with content that can be readily tailored to different types of company and buyer..
Turn sales people into market experts
Identify the Market Knowledge Gap – how much does your sales team really know and understand about their prospects:
- What pressures are their clients under from stakeholders – Board, shareholders, other functions
- How are their top 3 competitors performing?
- What value does a new supplier need to offer to win business?
Ask clients for their market perspective
Use what you learnt from Sales to build a series of questions for an informal research exercise with clients and prospects to gain their perspective on the market and the factors affecting purchases of your type of offering. Correlate this feedback with that from Sales.
Ask the market
Review competitor websites for new messages, case studies, market observations, white papers. Equally, remember that companies are made up of people and engaging with them directly will, of course, give you a different insight. This is where social media comes into play. Find the community or group relevant to your client’s market and become a player. Ask provocative questions to stimulate discussion and encourage people to comment on market trends, competitor actions, regulatory or government moves. Undertake a survey and use the results to add weight to your own blog and use that as a vehicle to put forward your views – the responses will tell you a great deal about what people are really thinking out there.
Develop a clear, short, simple briefing.
For all this information to be useful and used by Sales, you need to pull it into a short, one page, market briefing. Use quotes and comments to highlight the key drivers influencing purchasing decisions of your offering. The last section should provide Sales with some BGQs (bloody good questions) to ask their clients, open ended questions that demonstrate knowledge and take the conversation to a more strategic and valuable level – for both parties.
Confess that sometimes you don’t have the answers …
and ask the people who work for you who probably do! Everyone loves being asked for advice and letting your team know that sometimes you really need it is a good thing. There is no better question you can ask a member of your team than ‘what would you do?’, and then make sure you listen to the answer and consider it even if you choose not to act on it. They will feel 10 feet tall and you might just have a different angle on something.