Get Beyond the Technical Buyer
Getting beyond technical buyers and in front of economic buyers requires you to make distinct connections between your solution’s technical capabilities and the business pains of your prospects.
Conversations around technical requirements and buyer decision criteria can either propel a deal forward or cause problems that are difficult to overcome, like small deal sizes, stalled deals or discounts. Elite sellers take on this challenge by focusing on connecting those technical requirements to business challenges that have significant financial implications. This connection helps you move your deals higher in the customer organization, increasing the value and the price. Here are some key steps to make it happen:
Execute great discovery to define big business problems
To move beyond the technical buyer, you’ve got to attach to a big business problem and the economic buyer(s) that owns solving those problems.
Leverage the technical buyer you may be already working with to start making the connection between your solution’s technical capabilities and the big business problems that exist in your buyer's organization. Ask great discovery questions that make them connect their problems to individuals higher, wider and deeper in their organization. Questions like:
- In what ways do these challenges affect others in the organization(i.e. executive leadership, product, sales, marketing, etc.)?
- What would be their next steps when implementing a solution?
- How do they typically measure success?
- What risks do others face in your organization if XYZ challenge isn’t solved?
- Who do you typically work with to get resources for purchases?
Your ability to move higher, wider and deeper in an organization, depends on your ability to uncover big business problems and be relevant to those key decision makers in your buyer’s organization.
When you’ve secured time with high-level leaders, ensure you're prepared to ask meaningful questions and earn your right to keep talking. Leverage your discovery process to build business acumen and uncover their biggest business pains or challenges. Ensure you’re capturing all the necessary information attached to these big business problems. As you uncover what your buyer's current business pains are, ensure they’re urgent enough to demand a solution, ask yourself:
- Are the positive business outcomes (PBOs) that they’re sharing with you compelling enough for an economic buyer to re-allocate discretionary funds?
- Do the problems addressed have a sense of urgency, if they’re not solved quickly are you (and the buyer) aware of the consequences the business will face?
- Do you know what your buyer’s before and after scenarios are?
- Do you know how they are going to measure success?
Before turning to how you solve the challenges they have, make sure you are ready to present the capabilities of your solution in a way that shows how they’re aligned to those business issues.
Remember, once you start to talk about your solution, it makes it much more difficult to flip the script and dig deeper into your buyer’s biggest business challenges. Beyond missing out on big opportunities, if you start to have conversations on features and functions too early, you’ll likely get delegated down to who you sound like or lose the opportunity altogether.
Here’s our best resources to help you execute great discovery:
- Our Most Popular Content on Executing Effective Discovery
- Execute Great Discovery [Podcast]
- Playing Back Your Discovery Sessions With Buyers [Podcast]
Use active listening skills to get more from every valuable conversation with high-level buyers
Great discovery questions can only get you so far. If you’re not prepared to really listen to what your buyer responds with, you may find it difficult to dig deeper or pivot decisively. With an economic buyer's time being so valuable, you are limited in what you can achieve in each conversation. Make sure you’re listening in a way that’s valuable to your buyers, and your ability to progress the opportunity efficiently. Ask yourself:
- How well do you prepare to listen to the answers your buyers share with you?
- Are you waiting for your chance to talk or are you truly listening, in a way that will help you build rapport, and allow you to better connect technical solutions to complex business challenges?
- Do you know how to pivot your discovery question flow if your prospect gives you an answer you weren't expecting or didn’t want to hear?
- When your prospect is sharing their answers, do you listen for verbs, adjectives, descriptions and feelings? These descriptors are a sign that there's room to further open up the conversation and show that you have a genuine interest in your buyer’s current challenges.
Building up your active listening skills can help you dig deeper in your discovery conversations and improve your ability to be consultative in a way that builds trust.
Understand what preparing to actively listen looks like and how you can refine your listening skill set to sell more, faster. Here are some of our best resources on active listening skills:
- Why Your Active Listening Skills Are Crucial to Hitting Your Number
- Improve Your Active Listening Skills [Podcast]
- Playing Back Your Sales Discovery Sessions [Podcast]
Influence buyer solution requirements during discovery
As a salesperson, your ability to influence the required capabilities with the value and differentiation of your solution is directly tied to your success. More often than not 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. The most elite sellers leverage this gap by guiding their buyers in defining their own solution requirements, and in doing so, influencing those technical requirements with their solution's competitive differentiators. Even if your buyer has some idea of what they need to do to get from point A to point B, you can still leverage your discovery process to steer them away from competition.
Use trap-setting questions to influence your buyer’s solution requirements:
Regardless if the economic buyer has solution requirements in mind or not, you’ve got to be able to ask the right questions and get them to come to their own conclusion on what their final solution requirements should be. Even work to get your buyer to rank their requirements (which can help to remove competition from the running). After all, people don’t argue with their own conclusions.
Use trap-setting questions that highlight the value that the customer will receive as a result of a differentiator that you have, and one that your competitors do not (including a “do-nothing” or “do-it-internally” competitor). Here are a few resources you can use to improve your ability to trap the competition around your differentiation and effectively influence buyer criteria:
- Overcoming Sales Challenges: Change the Decision Criteria
- How to Ask the Right Questions in Your Sales Conversation
- Our Most FAQs From Salespeople [Podcast] (covers trap-setting questions in depth)
Propel Your Opportunities Forward:
Once you understand where the intersection between both the technical and business worlds are, you can improve your ability to carry on high-level conversations and validate a premium at close. Being able to connect technical conversations to high-level business problems is a key attribute of sellers who continually move beyond the technical buyer, and close better business, repeatedly. We cover discovery, active listening tips and more sales skills that top performers leverage to close high-value deals — all on the Audible Ready Podcast.
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