Today's buyers say engaging with sales reps likely impacts their final buying decision more than price or product (and Gartner says it too!). The promise of sales enablement is to help sellers get to a purchase decision in your favor. But, for two-thirds of the companies that have adopted it - that's just not happening.
Selling is really about helping buyers understand why and how to buy your product. Gartner calls it 'buyer enablement' and defines it as 'the provision of detailed information that helps buyers complete required jobs at each stage of the buying process (that a doozy of a definition!).
Supporting this process can be tricky. Buyers often circle back and revisit tasks - tasks that they’ve either already completed or started but not finished. The buying process is not linear. Sometimes it's more like a scavenger hunt. And it can be very complex too. Today's buying committees are often north of 10 stakeholders inside the company. They all may have different desired outcomes from the solution and certainly have different perspectives.
As these buyers work through getting on the same page, they need a savvy rep - one whom they can trust to guide them to a decision they have confidence in. This can help shorten the sales cycle by removing the friction that can end in a non-decision.
The result = shorter sales cycles by removing the challenges that stall buying decisions.
Conflicting Information Leads to Lack of Buyer Confidence
It turns out that today's buyers have almost too much information available to them. And it comes to them from every direction - vendors, analysts, third parties, and consultants. There isn't an easy apples-to-apples comparison across solution sets. Information overload leads to conflict and confusion. It stalls momentum by lowing the confidence buyers need to move forward with a decision.
Buyers become skeptical and often lose trust in vendors as they come across conflicting information during solutions evaluations. And that's a real issue as Gartner finds that buyer confidence drops 164% when they are doubtful of sellers. This is one reason why buyers sometimes 'ghost' sellers.
Buyers Access Information that Sellers Don't Control
A challenge for sellers is that buyers don’t rely solely on their conversations with them to gather information. They continue to do the research they started before they met your sales rep. In fact, 51% of buyers continue to access content from the vendor’s website and 31% continue to interact with marketing communications (Gartner).
To help buyers buy, sellers shouldn't pile on more information just because they can. Instead, sales reps must work to understand where a buyer is in their purchasing process. This helps them understand the key problems the buyer needs to solve to progress the deal forward.
Maybe it means helping buyers reconcile competing views from the information they've read. Or maybe it's providing customers with the information they're unlikely to come across on their own to address the problem they're trying to solve. [Hint: this doesn't mean features and functionality, but rather focusing on outcomes and value realization].
Reps Must Deliver Value to their Buyers
Tailoring conversations that deliver value to buyers is always a challenge for sellers. This is where simplified sales enablement can change the game in your favor. And it often requires a flip of the script. Instead of activating a sales playbook, bring a buyer playbook to the meeting.
In a typical fashion, you want to show your product in the best light. But this isn't the right approach. Too often, it comes across as biased and turns buyers away. Instead, they should take an approach from the buyer's standpoint that can help them sort through the information they have - and help determine what's valuable to solving their business problem. If sellers are armed with questions that can help guide the buyers through the 'muck' (technical term😜) to the right solution, they've done their job and can win the deal.
Sellers increase their value to buyers when they help them understand why specific claims have been made by competing vendors. Encourage your reps to provide information about issues that other customers like them have faced, and overcome with your solution.
Show reps how to call out key insights from the content buyers have seen on your website or through marketing campaigns. Help them understand how those takeaways relate to the problem they’re trying to solve or the outcome they want. Follow that up by sharing related content with a deeper context - personalized microsites are great for this.
If sellers can leave the conversation giving buyers clarity about the next steps to take that help solve their problem, they've made an impact. Offering a real-life example or a customer that's achieved a similar desired outcome helps buyers visualize your solution working for them.
Build Buyer Intent with Sales Enablement
Sales enablement has a big job in supporting buyer conversations. Using content, bite-sized learning, and tools like personalized microsites or DSRs (Digital Sales Rooms) to unite sellers with buyers helps your reps readily adopt and use a sales enablement platform.
Here are some tips that help sellers have more meaningful buyer conversations:
Organize your centralized sales content library based on buyer persona, stage, problem, and product to help sellers find and share the right content at the right time.
Use just-in-time learning to:
- Highlight key takeaways in content assets.
- Reinforce skills development training.
- Provide evidence to support claims.
- Educate sellers about buyers.
- Prep sellers for discovery based on buyer persona, problem, and stage.
- Introduce third-party content sellers can use for validation.
- Inform reps about competitor claims and how to explain them.
- Prompt sellers with problem-related case studies and use cases.
Integrate sales enablement with CRM and marketing automation to unify account data and understand pipeline velocity.
Use personalized microsites to extend conversations related to content shared by your reps
Analyze engagement by rep and buyer and content assets to gauge intent and effectiveness.
Sales enablement effectiveness is dependent on the approach you take to aligning your sellers to what your buyers want and need—at each stage of their buying process. Taking traditional sales methods and molding to the tools being used hasn't proven to meet expectations for two-thirds of companies that have tried.
This low success rate might be because it's difficult to adopt and effectively use all the fancy tools and features many vendors are peddling. They end up requiring a heavy lift from sellers - and are a higher cost to maintain since they're full of flashy bells and whistles that may not help buyers buy.
Want to elevate your sales reps’ ability to engage buyers and help them advance deals? It might be time to simplify how you orchestrate sales enablement technology and processes in support of their selling efforts.