Sales Productivity: How to Survive in a Competitive Market
Categories: Sales Productivity
Enable your sales team to pick up the pace this year, particularly if they’re in a competitive sales environment. Maybe you know what’s working well and what isn't, but you’re unsure how to move forward. Maybe you’re looking for strategic ways to course-correct existing challenges, while in the flurry to hit your number this quarter. In a competitive market, the best sales leaders are the ones who enable their teams to differentiate based on buyer needs. Define and align on what’s next for your sales team and how you can act now to enable them to survive and thrive this year. Here are a few areas to consider.
Equip your reps to align your differentiation to your buyer’s buying criteria
Ensure your reps can execute on your differentiation so they can consistently beat competition and win against tough incumbents. How well are your reps aligning your solution’s competitive differentiation to their buyers' business problems?
Often, buyers will have a desired future state in mind, and KPIs or metrics to measure results, but not necessarily a defined way to get there. They may not know exactly what required capabilities/features/functions they need in a solution to achieve their desired positive business outcomes (PBOs). The most elite sellers leverage this gap by guiding their buyers in defining the required capabilities of a solution implementation, and in doing so, influencing those technical requirements with their solution's competitive differentiators. Your competition may already be equipping their reps to execute in this way ...
How to act now:
Ask yourself, is there clarity amongst your sales organization on the business problems your solutions solve? Is there clarity around how your solutions solve those problems and how they do it in a way that’s different and/or better than competition?
Your solution’s technical features and functions help buyers achieve critical PBOs — which is why we often say the PBOs and the Required Capabilities are where the technical and business worlds come together. Elite salespeople discover both in their deals and connect them. As a result, they’re able to increase win rates and deal sizes, even in a challenging sales environment.
Clarity around your solution’s business value and competitive differentiation is what salespeople need to connect a buyer’s PBOs to the technical capabilities of a great B2B solution. When reps understand how to map buyer outcomes to your solution, they can leverage your technical differentiators to get buyers to anchor on required capabilities that your competition simply can’t match up against.
Help your reps make these connections by ensuring there’s clarity across your entire sales organization on how your solution is different or better than competition (including the do-it-internally competitor). To generate alignment on buyer value and solution differentiation, everyone in your company should have the same answers to these four essential questions:
- What business problems do you solve for your customers?
- How do you specifically solve those problems?
- How do you do it differently than your competition?
- What’s your proof?
With consistent answers to those questions, you can enable your reps to leverage agreed-upon solution differentiation and align it to their buyer’s PBOs, measurements of success and requirements for a solution implementation. Here is the proven framework you’ll want to consider building once you generate cross-functional alignment on answers to the essential questions.
Train your salespeople to instill value early and often in their opportunities
Making value negotiation an organizational competency is a proven way to thrive in a competitive market. In a competitive environment, making the right tweaks to your sales negotiation process can help you increase win rates and speed up time-to-close ratios, repeatedly.
Salespeople skilled at selling and negotiating value are the foundation of a successful sales organization, in any environment. If you’re looking to build stability in a competitive market and scale the business, assess your sales negotiation process. Ensure it provides your salespeople with the structure they need to minimize late-stage stalls and discounts, improve forecast accuracy and sell bigger deals.
Elite salespeople focus on capturing value early and often in their opportunities so they can leverage that value in the final stages of a deal to justify the need for a premium price. That skill set is the organizational competency that you can equip your entire customer-facing organization to hone and leverage.
Are your salespeople repeatedly losing value at the end of the sale and resorting to discounting or leaving money on the table? Is your negotiation process driving efficient time-to-close ratios or are deals getting bottlenecked internally and hindering your reps' ability to preserve value? An effective sales negotiation process enables sales teams to repeatedly negotiate on and protect value throughout the sales process. This type of revenue-driving negotiation process, leverages the value and differentiation of your company’s offerings, creates alignment across internal departments and provides sellers with a repeatable framework to use to preserve margin and increase cross-sells, up-sells, etc. Evaluate your own sales process against this definition. Here are the common red flags that indicate gaps in an organization’s sales negotiation process:
- Negotiations often coming down to price, versus value
- Loss of leverage with experienced buyers
- Inability to identify and manage customer tactics
- Inability to counter aggressive competitor tactics
- Difficulty managing the complexity of internal negotiations
How to act now:
Make value negotiation an organizational competency that propels your sales organization to an elite level. Shift your sales organization’s negotiation approach. Consider these questions as you look for opportunities to improve your sales negotiation process:
- What is your average discounting rate?
- What business issues do your solutions anchor to?
- What is your definition of a “good deal”?
- What are the customers’ alternatives to your solution?
- How do reps build a negotiation strategy?
Assess these questions with your company's cross-functional leaders. If there’s inconsistency in their answers, then there’s likely inconsistency in your sales organization’s negotiation approach. In one way or another, this inconsistency can hinder your sales team’s ability to validate a fit for your solution and close premium deals.
Enable your reps to repeatedly uncover buyer value drivers, align your solutions to those value drivers, and pull that alignment through into the negotiation. An effective sales negotiation process equips salespeople with the tools, content, internal support and messaging they need to instill value early and often in their deals. It provides sellers with a repeatable framework they can use to protect value throughout the sales campaign, win more and leave less money on the table. Find ways to do the same so your organization doesn’t just survive, but instead propels into a revenue-driving sales engine. Here are resources sales leaders have found valuable when working to assess and course-correct their sales organization's approach to negotiation. Leverage them as you work to make value negotiation an organizational competency, one that sets your company apart from competition.
Help Your Sales Team Leverage Differentiation and Negotiate on Value
If you're aiming to grow market share and improve your sales organization’s ability to compete — equip your sales organization with the processes, tools and content they can use to win more and preserve margin.
We've helped several sales leaders do just that, ClickSoftware and Zendesk are two examples you may find valuable. See how each organization successfully shifted their negotiation approach and changed seller mindsets. Their hard work has resulted in significant and long-term company impacts for both organizations.