Six Sales Best Practices That Will Make Your Competitor Nervous
Categories: Sales Conversation
There’s as much differentiation in how you sell as there is in what you sell. The most successful salespeople don't stand out from the competition by touting the features and functions of their latest product. Rather, they are diligent about articulating customer value and practicing good selling fundamentals.
A salesperson who focuses on value and solving problems with business impact will make a lesser competitor nervous every time. Use these best practices to differentiate yourself with your prospects and stand out from the competition.
1. Execute effective discovery to uncover your buyer's big business issues
The best way to rise above the competition with any buyer is to ask the right questions. Remember, deals are won and lost on effective discovery. Why? Because an effective discovery process uncovers the most pressing business issue. It allows you to attach your solution to the problem with the largest business impact on the business, which creates urgency from economic buyers. When buyers understand that they have a problem so big it can't go one more day without getting fixed, they’ll take action.
If you’re not able to identify your prospect’s pain points or business goals, you’ll be seen as just another vendor, trying to sell them something they don’t need. Uncovering business pain early and often will help you define the bigger business issues, those that are associated with larger titles, more resources and a larger budget. However, don’t just stop at finding that issue, you also have to uncover the impact. If your customer needs a more efficient way to conduct remote meetings, that’s good information to use in your conversations. But, if you can quantify that impact in dollars, you’ll be able to justify purchasing your solution much more effectively. Here are tips and best practices you can use to improve your discovery skills and repeatedly uncover big business problems and their impacts.
2. Remember to focus on value
Stay away from the bells and whistles of your new product and focus on the value it can provide to your buyer. While your competition is busy conducting product demo after demo, differentiate your solution by tying it to the business value for the prospect organization. If you jump into demos or conversations about features and functions too early, before focusing on the buyer’s desired outcomes, it’s often difficult to switch the focus back to your buyer in a way that will enable you to charge a premium. Let your competitors fall into that trap, while you keep the focus on your buyer.
Stay focused on the value your customer is hoping to achieve from purchasing and implementing a solution. Help them build a business case that favors your solution by keeping your sales conversations focused on their needs and business challenges, not your solution’s features and functions.
Use one of your current opportunities as an example. What is your prospect currently experiencing that has compelled him/her to seek a vendor? Identify the compelling event that has your buyer (1) searching for a solution and/or (2) taking your call. What is their before and after scenario? Their after scenario or positive business outcome is often the value you want to tie your solution to achieving. Once you understand that business value, you can more effectively adjust your approach, and use that knowledge to align your solution’s value and differentiation to your buyer’s needs, in a way that your competition can’t compete with. Here are buyer-focused questions you can use to uncover value drivers, before and after scenarios and other critical buying criteria.
3. Elevate the conversation to the C-suite
Get the decision to the decision makers. Many B2B sellers find themselves stuck in a frustrating cycle of “no-decision,” while trying to have a sales conversation with mid-level managers who aren’t qualified to make the final call. Leverage and move beyond technical buyers so you can improve your ability to sell higher.
When determining a strategic approach to bigger accounts, you need a plan to capture collective agreement on the need for your solution from people with influence in your buyer’s organization. We call this agreement from multiple decision makers a “Collective Yes”. Focusing on capturing a collective yes from multiple decision makers and people with influence in your buyer’s organization, is a strategy elite salespeople use to repeatedly beat competition and tough incumbents. It requires salespeople to:
- Elevate their sales message: Differentiate yourself by making your sales conversations relevant to high-level buyers. You get delegated to who you sound like, so focus your conversation on the business impact that demands this high-level attention and you’ll find yourself dealing with those who hold the purse strings. You can enjoy watching your competitors wallow with the technical buyers.
- Be in control of navigating the decision process with multiple buyers: If you’re not in control of navigating the decision process with multiple buyers to achieve a collective yes, your competitors can quickly move into your opportunity. Don’t just work with one or two people and get comfortable (even if they’re at a high level). Expand your reach and knowledge. Leverage each individual you’re working with to gain more information on a company’s business challenges, internal culture, key KPIs and measurements of success, and access to other decision makers.
4. Focus on the required capabilities
Two critical components to rising above the competition are defining what is needed to make your solution successful and gaining agreement on those requirements. If you’ve conducted your discovery process effectively, your solution’s key differentiators should be part of those required capabilities. If they are, it will be hard for your competition to sell your customer on their inferior solution. Game over.
When you’re up against a tough incumbent or competition you know your solution may be at a disadvantage for, you can still steer the deal in your favor and increase your win rates. Focus on improving your ability to stack customer requirements in your favor. Here are best practices and tips you can apply immediately to your live opportunities to get your buyer to anchor on required capabilities that favor your solution over tough competition.
5. Build a messaging framework you can use to repeat your success
What’s worked well for you in the past? Write it down, and build on it so you can use those tactics in future opportunities. In our Command of the Message program, we provide reps with a customized Value Framework they can use to repeatedly engage in a consultative sales conversation focused on value and differentiation in a way that has meaning to their buyer.
If you haven’t been through one of our deliveries and are unfamiliar with what a Value Framework is, here are some of the main topics it covers:
- It outlines what's important to the buyer.
- It categorizes what makes you different from your competitors.
- It provides great discovery questions that can be used to understand and quantify business pain and trap competition around a solution’s differentiation.
- It lists success metrics based on your solution’s proof points and customer testimonials.
The purpose of the value framework is to tailor it to your industry, organization and market. Then leverage it to articulate your solution’s value and differentiation in a way that resonates with your specific buyers. Use what you know works and consider sketching out the key components of the Value Framework. Tailoring it to your opportunities so you can adjust your message and approach accordingly. After you do this, we’d love to hear your results, feel free to drop them in the comments.
6. Prioritize pre-call preparations and activities
Having a seamless and professional presence (virtual or in-person) is the least your buyers expect in sales conversations. This expectation leaves no time to let up on basic best practices of pre-call preparation. Ensure you can achieve your desired outcomes in your next sales conversation and execute in a way that differentiates you from competition by doing the work upfront to make it happen. Here are a few pre-call preparation activities/tasks that are critical to execute before every sales conversation:
- Set aside sufficient time to execute critical pre-call fundamentals: Always go above and beyond. You’d be surprised how many sellers don’t put in even the bare minimum of effort when it comes to pre-call prep. Stand out by actually taking the time to execute pre-call planning effectively.
- Leverage role plays: Don't practice in front of your buyer. Run through role plays and scenarios with your managers, actively map out deals with them and get feedback on your approach.
- Compile necessary internal resources: Ensure you’ve got the internal resources, answers, and people you need to execute on your upcoming sales call.
Hone Your Ability to Execute the Fundamentals of Great Selling:
Your ability to execute the fundamentals of great selling will play a major role in your ability to beat competition repeatedly, including a do-nothing or do-it-internally decision. Elite sellers are constantly honing their craft. So if you want to be competitive and win better deals, find opportunities to build your skillset and improve your execution on the fundamentals. The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast covers sales best practices and timely tips you can use to get started. Subscribe on your preferred streaming platform to get notifications when our weekly episodes are live.