In the first part of our three part series we highlighted the top 3 sales prospecting challenges in 2017 revealed in the Richardson Selling Challenges research and how to overcome them by improving collaboration between marketing and sales.
In this second part, we’ll go over the biggest challenges buyers face when making a purchasing decision and how sales professionals should respond to increase their chances of closing the sale.
Status Quo Bias in Decision Making (or No Decision Making)
Today’s buyers face richer information environments than ever before. But the overload of data can be overwhelming, and have a negative effect on customers’ buying decisions, sometimes resulting in a “no-decision.”
Most companies record a “no-decision” as a "loss" to the status quo. Before all that information, buyers naturally stick with the processes or solutions that they’re already using, resistant to the risk of something new and hesitant to stretch outside of their current comfort zones.
According to the research, the biggest challenge for buyers when making purchasing decisions is combating the status quo (26%) and for sellers is creating a compelling case to avoid a no-decision (16%).
The key to overcoming the “no-decision” challenge is to arm your sales reps with the right value messaging, tools and training to deal with each situation and help facilitate the buyer to overcome their biases and sort through what matters most in order to find value among the options.
To combat the buyer’s status quo, sellers should:
- Highlight the status quo as a loss that is immediate and certain. A loss of better opportunity costs and benefits unrealized, tapping into our human psychological desire to avoid losses, particularly those that are certain.
- Frame their proposed solution as a low-risk alternative to the status quo. This helps to neutralize the risk that potential buyers inevitably associate with making a change.
- Make sure that your content includes examples of people and/or companies who have successfully adopted your solution and derived significant benefits as a result of that decision.
Product Differentiation to Ease Decision Making
Customers can be attracted to a large number of choices, but when it comes the time to make a purchase, too many options can make decision making difficult and lead to fewer sales.
21% of respondents said that comparing their options was a top challenge for buyers when making purchasing decisions. Being able to differentiate from low-cost vendors and propose a unique value proposition was their biggest closing challenges.
Salespeople can add value by helping buyers diagnose their unique situations, and identify the best solutions that meet those exact needs. They can listen to prospects and uncover what they think is the most valuable benefit, to adapt their presentation to that benefit. This way buyers can make an informed decision that drives the results they desire.
As you build your value proposition you need to consider the following:
- Profile your market: Document the size of your market, and identify your major competitors and how they’re positioned.
- Segment your market: Understand the problems that your market faces. Uncover your prospect’s true needs and wants to identify what you can deliver to solve their issues. Then group your prospects into segments or personas so you can efficiently market to each group.
- Define how you deliver value: there are three high-level methods for delivering value to your customers. Focus on the one that best describes your company and offerings: operational efficiency (the lowest price), product leadership (the best product), or customer intimacy (the best solution & service).
Once you’re confident you’ve nailed a unique value proposition that both sets you apart from your competition and represents what your target market wants, make sure to make it a central part of your marketing efforts, across your website, case studies, testimonials, blog articles, social media, etc.
Consensus in Decision Making (with Multiple Stakeholders)
With more stakeholders involved in every B2B purchasing decision, reaching consensus has become more difficult, claimed 16% of respondents.
According to Brent Adamson, principal executive advisor at CEB and co-author of The Challenger Sale and The Challenger Customer, the growing number of stakeholders isn’t an issue because of the quantity of people involved, but because of the diversity of opinion inherent to the sales process.
“Each stakeholder represents a different part of the organization, held to different metrics, with a different agenda and buying criteria.
Sellers can break through the noise by providing relevant insights, and demonstrating value. If they help stakeholders navigate alternatives, see their shared interests, and find common ground, they’ll be able to move the buying process along.
But, in order to provide value, you need to first evaluate your customer’s buying process, by asking the following questions:
- How many people are involved in the buying process?
- How many people should get involved?
- Who do you want involved in the deal?
With this information at hand, you need to consider all stakeholders’ unique view of what’s important and what represents value to their part of the business: financial, technical, strategic, or partnership, to position your solution so that it resonates with each individual’s value lenses. You can also support your stakeholders by providing additional marketing material, working alongside them, and building stronger relationships with them.
Now that you have the keys to influence your customer's purchasing decisions, it's time to re-evaluate your sales development process and optimize it for success.