3 Ways to Increase Your Sales Velocity
But why are sellers losing momentum right now? The near-term economy greatly contributes to this pitfall. Customers are facing increasing uncertainty. This uncertainty influences customers to change their plans, usually without the seller’s knowledge. This makes it more difficult for sellers to position a solution in a way that connects with the customer’s needs.
The depth of the customer’s uncertainty makes this challenge particularly difficult.
To win, sellers must help customers overcome the inertia that sets in when there has been too much uncertainty for too long. The benefit to doing so is not just winning the sale, it is the possibility of the seller rising to the level of a trusted advisor which creates future opportunities. How do sellers do this?
Quantify the Customer's Pain
In many cases, when people are considering a purchase, it often adds to their uncertainty rather than reducing it. They might be unsure about how long it will take to see results from the solution they're thinking of buying. They might worry about the risk to their reputation if the solution doesn't perform as expected. These concerns, combined with uncertainties about the business environment, can easily deter them from making a purchase.
The key to overcoming this uncertainty is to build the confidence of the people involved in the decision-making process. This is crucial because top executives, such as CEOs and CFOs, are now scrutinizing investments more closely than ever before. They require a high level of assurance regarding the ROI because they have numerous competing priorities vying for funding. Additionally, explaining the value of the solution is a high-stakes task because there are multiple decision-makers, each with their own understanding of value, involved in the process. Therefore, sellers need a method to accurately identify the customer’s challenges so they can connect the value of the solution in a way that resonates with them. This process unfolds in three stages.
First, the seller must ask questions to grasp the extent of the customer’s challenges. They need to understand how severe the challenges are, how frequently they occur, and in which parts of the business these issues are present. This provides the seller with insights into the pervasiveness of the customer’s problems, who is most affected by them, and how the customer is currently managing these challenges. This detailed information is crucial for the seller to effectively communicate the value of the solution in a way that directly addresses these specific challenges.
Second, the seller must comprehend the cause-and-effect relationship between the challenges and the people within the customer’s organization. This understanding reveals how the solution can tackle problems experienced by different stakeholders across various areas of the business.
Third, the seller should inquire about other functions within the customer’s business that are affected by the challenges. By doing so, the seller gains a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s needs. This wealth of information equips the seller to pinpoint and communicate the aspects of the solution that will be most relevant and compelling to the customer.
Restore the Customer's Buying Vision
When sales professionals create a buying vision, they are essentially combining the goals, challenges, and concerns of everyone involved into a clear and unified picture. By linking these elements, they enable the customer to feel confident about moving forward because they can now clearly understand the problem they are facing. In essence, something unclear and vague becomes well-defined and tangible.
This process of clarifying the customer’s buying vision is incredibly beneficial for both the seller and the customer. It provides the seller with valuable insights into what the customer truly needs to succeed. Without this shared understanding between the seller and the stakeholders, effective selling isn't possible. The ultimate aim is to help the customer visualize themselves using the solution in a way that feels authentic and achievable.
Sellers can achieve this by quantifying the impact of the solution. They do this by focusing on the tangible and measurable outcomes that the stakeholders can expect. By understanding the customer’s challenges, sellers can confirm the value of the solution. The most effective way to do this is by using a well-structured statement that outlines what matters to the customer, how the solution will assist them, and the specific results the solution can deliver.
Next, the seller needs to ensure alignment on the current situation. This involves gathering feedback on the issues discussed and exploring how these problems affect other stakeholders. It's also an opportunity to gain insight into the overall business strategy.
Lastly, the seller must align on the future state. This means understanding how the stakeholders perceive the capabilities and value of the solution. During this phase, it's important to encourage questions and objections. Addressing these concerns openly is crucial because it’s better to uncover and deal with them upfront rather than letting them fester beneath the surface. Finally, the seller should confirm the reasons why it's essential for the stakeholders to act now. This step reinforces the urgency and importance of making a decision.
Illustrate the Risk of the Status Quo
Research conducted by McKinsey indicates that the value of new-business revenue is almost twice as high as that of core business revenues. Generating revenue from new business ventures is not just a competitive advantage; it's a necessity. With the rapid changes occurring in various industries, businesses must find innovative ways to grow. Despite this urgency, many businesses are resistant to change. Why is this the case?
The answer lies in our natural inclination to stick with the familiar—the status quo. In response, sellers must convince customers that maintaining the status quo isn’t merely a delay in making a choice; it's a deliberate strategic decision. Essentially, it means applying past methods to tackle future challenges. Some experts refer to this phenomenon as “active inertia,” a term coined by Donald Sull, a researcher at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Active inertia occurs when initial success reinforces the belief that sticking to the same formula will guarantee continued success. However, in a constantly changing environment, relying on unchanging methods poses significant risks. Sellers can help customers break free from this status quo mindset using three key strategies.
First, they need to build a consensus among stakeholders to support the proposed solution. This is crucial not only because modern buying decisions involve multiple decision-makers but also because sales professionals are more likely to challenge the status quo when they have the backing of influential decision-makers. When one member of the buying team takes the first step, it becomes easier for others to follow suit.
Second, sellers should demonstrate the costs associated with maintaining the status quo, including the missed opportunities that come from not embracing the proposed solution. In a world where industries are undergoing rapid changes, businesses face a critical choice: adapt or risk falling behind. Sellers need to illustrate that choosing not to decide is essentially assuming that past strategies will continue to work, even as the business landscape evolves.
Third, helping customers overcome the status quo requires clear and concise communication. Purchasing decisions are just one among many priorities on a customer’s plate. Each of these demands their attention. Therefore, sellers must make it effortless for the customer to take the next step. This involves conveying the solution's capabilities in a manner that is not only clear but also directly relevant to the specific challenges they face.
Regaining Sales Velocity
Momentum is one of the most powerful forces in selling. Yet many sellers are seeing inertia set in as some customers await more clarity on how the near term will unfold. To regain sales velocity, sellers need to properly quantify the customer’s pain so they can articulate the value of the solution in a way that resonates. They must restore the customer’s buying vision so that the stakeholders are clear on what steps they need to take. Finally, sellers must underscore the risk of the status quo to remind buyers that inertia carries a cost.