How to Stack Customer Requirements in Your Favor
Categories: Sales Discovery Process
If you want to steer a buyer’s solution requirements away from your competition (including a “do nothing” or a “no decision”), there are a few key areas of your sales conversation that you can focus on to successfully stack customer requirements in your favor.
In a recent episode of The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast, Marty Mercer, Force Management Facilitator, talks about how to effectively prepare for conversations around decision criteria in a way that enables you to validate a premium price.
Here are the top two challenges salespeople face when influencing decision criteria and how to execute against them.
1. Competing directly against a competitor:
Remember unique differentiators are fleeting. Your competitors catch up to your unique solutions. When they do, your “unique” differentiators won’t hold up. Solution capabilities are where the technical and business worlds intersect. This connection is where you can differentiate your solution from seemingly similar competition because in one way or another your solution’s technical capabilities are different or better than your competitors. Use this knowledge to your advantage. Your goal should be to get your buyer to define their required capabilities for a solution implementation in a way that favors your technical capabilities. Start by helping your buyer define the requirements for a solution implementation that will enable them to achieve their desired business outcomes.
Do your buyers even know the specific technical requirements they need from a solution to achieve a successful implementation? A buyer might have a desired future state in mind, and even metrics to measure, but they may not have strategically thought through what it will take to go from point A to point B. Help them connect these business and technical worlds by asking questions to make them think through this issue and define the specific capabilities that they will need to ensure success. Ask great trap-setting questions to help your buyer strategically define their required capabilities in a way that aligns with your solution’s differentiation. Use these questions to trap the competition around the technical capabilities of your solution that make it different or better than competitors. When executed correctly, these questions will help you get your buyer to anchor on required capabilities in a way that your competitors simply can’t measure up to.
How to build out a trap-setting plan and question flow:
Be strategic and always prepare in advance for your discovery sessions. If you are strategically trying to align the customer’s requirements with your differentiation, you and your account team can’t wing it. Think from your desired end game to now. Consider:
- What are the solution requirements that favor your solution’s technical capabilities over a competitor’s?
- How do those requirements support your buyer in moving from their before scenario to their after scenario?
- What questions can you ask the buyer to help them reach this conclusion on their own?
Use these questions to prepare your question flow in advance and focus on helping your buyer come to anchor on required capabilities on their own. Use this process early and often in your deals to constantly steer your buyers toward your solutions.
2. Selling to a customer who shares a capability your solution doesn't do as well as a competitor:
What do you do when a customer shares a capability that you know your solution doesn’t do as well or doesn’t have altogether? First don’t panic and don’t ignore this information the buyer is sharing. Use this information to your advantage by asking, “What is the positive business outcome (PBO) of having that specific capability?”
What happens in most cases when you ask that question is (1) the prospect will not have a PBO in mind, or (2) they might say that there isn’t a PBO connected to that capability. In that exchange, you’ve opened up the opportunity to help your buyer define the positive business outcomes they truly want to achieve and eliminate a capability where you know you fall short. Either way, this question sets you up to steer the conversation in your favor.
In any opportunity, to win against competition, even in a company with an incumbent, you can significantly improve your chances if you execute these two things successfully:
- Attach your solutions to your buyer’s biggest business problems
- Attach your solution’s differentiation to your buyer achieving the desired PBOs
How to successfully execute on both of these critical steps:
Execute effective discovery to uncover and attach to a big business problem that demands an urgent solution. If you’ve done the work to uncover and attach to big business problems, use the right question flow to trap competition around your solution’s competitive differentiation. Then, after you’ve helped your buyer reach their own conclusion about other critical buying criteria, make it essential for your buyer to rank all of their requirements.
If you’ve successfully helped your buyer define solution requirements that favor your solution, they will likely put those higher on their list of importance. After all, people don’t argue with their own conclusions. Through the process, those items that you’ve helped them decide aren’t as important, won’t have as great an influence on the final deal. Your solution is now the top choice and you can validate the need for a premium price because of it.
Of course, to fully validate to your buyer that your solution can do what you’re saying, you’ll have to leverage your proof points successfully as well. That’s a topic we cover more in depth here. We also cover how to maximize the effectiveness of proof points often, on The Audible-Ready Sales Podcast, here’s one episode you may find helpful.