Solving Enterprise Sales woes

By : |June 19, 2019 0

There is a reason – a well-founded one – why Enterprise Sales are also called Complex Sales. For, far from being a short-term, low risk transactional communication, it is all about forging personal relationships and building trust across multiple stakeholders involving heavy investment over a long period of time.

“Good salespeople sell lots of product, but great salespeople make lots of customers successful.” – Mark Birch

True – Relationships, Trust and Success are three elements of the virtuous circle that covers the Enterprise sales paradigm traversing from good to great.

Flurry of Hurdles

Enterprise Sales is mired in maze of challenges. At every stage of Seller’s journey, there are number of pitfalls and hurdles that may hamstring a seller’s efforts towards sales closure and further loss of recurring sales opportunities. A significant dent in business prospects of start-ups and small business set-ups. Challenges are both external and internal. While internal challenges are easy to comprehend and tackle, it is the external challenges that many times prove to be the last nail in the coffin.

Prospecting, i.e the process of identifying the next new customer is increasingly becoming akin to finding needle in haystack, in today’s mature internet era. There is no dearth of information online and yet the market pie seems stagnant. For finding new customers and achieving an accelerated growth it is imperative to dive into the untapped segment of database called ‘Whitespace’. However, what if the ‘right’ customer moves out of the organization in the process of leadership rejig? What if the prospective company itself undergoes re-structuring and re-organization?

Qualifying the prospects and evaluating the probable buyer initially involved manual interactions, today almost 70% information is collected without any verbal conversation involvement.1 Investigating and understanding the client’s issues and possible strategic impact of solutions and services being offered along with the expected value-add is the deciding aspect of this phase. But then how is the ‘value-add’ determined? Can it be measured under the metrics of revenue accrued or risk taken or even cost optimization? Even if it is measured, can it be applied reasonably for all the buyers? It is notable that 82% of B2B decision-makers think sales reps are unprepared.2

Estimating the purchase propensity of the possible buyer is dependant upon elements that make up the organizational behaviour in terms of decision-making. Though we hope that companies make fact-based rational decisions with unswaying determination of the larger good, yet many times decision may happen to be entirely subjective.

Determining sales motion for higher productivity and quicker impact also involves seamless system integration. This by every mean is a herculean task if the it is a big-size company with complex legacy structures in place. Further, quicker turn-around is almost always a mirage because of the complex process inherent in conducting due diligence by various units like IT department, legal department, vendor management etc before the sales can be closed.

Last mile connect for sales closure goes beyond accomplishing buyer’s signature on the dotted line. It comprises of sustained customization of the product/services in lieu of the evolving customers’ needs and taking feedbacks. This also involves establishing good rapport for long-term business gains and staying ahead of competition. However, we know that the market is dynamic and the needs are continuously evolving/changing. The products/services may be perfect in resolving yesterday’s woes but may fall short of meeting today’s needs! In cases where the sale is indeed converted, salesperson may have lost out on important information if the product/service is scalable or if it is in complete fitment to the market needs. Further, what if the customer wishes to renegotiate the cost post signing the deal?

Other myriad issues like aging products, non-scalable products/technology deficit in solution designing, dependency on the legacy systems, gaps in sales processes, high turn-over rate of sales rep, skill deficiency in sales rep are some of the internal limiting factors that may act as blockade.

Hammering Hurdles

With the hole in the doughnut acknowledged, let us now attempt to sell it! [take-on Harold J. Shayler’s quote “As you travel down life’s highway…whatever be your goal, you cannot sell a doughnut without acknowledging the hole.”]

We all understand that in the world the only limiting factor is the ‘mindset’ and ‘attitude’. Therefore, in the attempt to triumph over the sales hurdles, it is important to begin with the right attitude. Enterprise Sales, more often than not have big deal size with heavy investment running up to good timeline with an average of 6.8 decision makers3 involved and high scale of perceived purchase risk. It is thus imperative that salespersons understand that these complex sales are driven primarily by quality and not quantity, and work around the solutions to completely fit into the needs of the buyer and aligning it with the market needs as well.

Prospecting, i.e the process of identifying the next new customer is simplified surely via ‘Whitespace discovery’. However, the step should also be coupled with through background research of the prospects and the company. A detailed report on individual leads is a must before an attempt to initiate a connect. Lot of it is easy now given the play of Data analytics holistically. Right from the spoc’s roles & responsibilities, influence they exert, world views that may have an impact on the business growth and expansion amongst others. It helps greatly in predicting the future of the organisation, imminent changes that may happen and also serves well in exploring a mutual connect with the prospect. Face to face meetings especially when arranged in the prospect’s surrounding helps in understanding the company, work culture, organisational chart beside forging a human connect with the spoc. A warm and thoughtful initiative to connect goes a long way in building personal and trusting relationships.

Qualifying the prospects and evaluating the probable buyer for ‘value-add’ the sales attempt offers. Sales person need to understand the pain points of the prospects – both explicit and implicit. This understanding needs to be mapped against their key business priorities. The organisation’s motivation level, their focus in achieving the set priorities, both quantified and qualified impact it aims to deliver also uncover the challenges that business is facing or ‘may’ face in future.

The product/service then must be customised basis the current and futuristic need of the organisation, keeping it aligned with the business urgency and actual/perceived consequences. Various stakeholders must see related and relevant business value in the offerings. The offerings must be empathetic to their pain points to get validated.

Onboarding, thence, is still not a cake-walk. Paradoxically, this process shall work backwards starting with business priorities leading up to implementation minutiae. A checklist that is both practical and aspirational along with being methodical then comes into the grasp. This enables both the stakeholders and salespeople to stay on the same tangent while executing the project at hand and also paves way for future business. A cost renegotiation or challenge to the product/service at any given time can be handled by circling back to the business urgency discovered earlier. It is important to note that even after purchasing a product or service, 42% of buyers still reviewed a company on a third-party site.4

Finishing line in the Offing?

A converted lead or a signed deal is not where businesses stop. The unsaid rule in a successful relationship involves making yourself indispensable and continuing to provide unique and time-tested offerings. On these lines begins the quest of increasing market share, expanding the customer reach and deliver recurring sales.

It shall pay well if persistent heed is paid to W. Clement Stone’s words, “Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman – not the attitude of the prospect” while traversing the path of Seller’s journey.

Never-ceasing innovation and customization in products/services providing cost and resource optimization is the cornerstone of increasing market share and retaining customers for longer. Cross-selling and up-selling are successful only if pursued on the bed of trust and successful association. Relationship building also shouldn’t stop at individual spoc/prospect only. An attempt to widen the horizon, build own network within the organisation, to understand the collective mindset are also imperative steps in selling. It helps garner insights to differentiate between the ‘need’ versus ‘want’ of the product and also build in-roads into as many stakeholders as possible.

By Snehashish Bhattacharjee, Global CEO, Denave

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