Let me be clear, in today’s environment winning is never easy. But we make things so complicated, we make it much harder than it should be. As a result, our win rates and results plummet.
- Never never never, regardless how tempting, never ever venture outside your ICP! The ICP is the set of customers that have the problems we are the best in the world at solving. Focusing on your ICP in your prospecting and throughout your qualification process means you are doing everything you can to “pre-program” things for success.
- When things get tough, for instance the economy, or even you may be behind in your numbers, narrow your focus even more. Think not only of those that are in the “bullseye,” but focus on those in the dead center of the bulls eye. This is very counterintuitive. Our natural reaction when times get tough is to broaden our outreach, to find more possible prospects. While this strategy keeps you busy, it profoundly reduces your win rates.
- Get engaged as early as possible. Most of the time, sellers get involved in the very final stages of their buying process. By then, they have done all the heavy lifting and the tough work. And they may not have done it very well. But because we get involved when they have made all the strategic decisions, we have very little ability to shift their thinking and maximize our ability to win.
- Get engaged as early as possible. In complex B2B buying, the customer doesn’t know what they are doing. They are doing something they don’t normally do, that’s a task added onto their day job. The majority of buying efforts fail roughly 37% of the way through their process–long before sellers are ever involved. As a result a number of very good opportunities are lost simply because the customer gets frustrated and gives up. Their problem is still there, they still have a need to change. They just don’t know what they are doing–nor should they, unless they are buying these things every day.
- Get engaged as early as possible (starting to see a pattern?). The majority of customers in our ICP may not even recognize the need to change, that there may be a better way to do things, that they may be missing an opportunity. It’s natural, they are consumed with just doing their day jobs, they may not be aware of opportunities to change and improve. Incite them to change.
- Get engaged as early as possible (this is the last one, I promise). The data shows the first seller in has a higher probability of winning, than all the other competitors. Tilt the odds in your favor.
- Whenever you get involved, don’t talk about your product! Even if your customer asks you! They don’t care about your product or what you sell. They care about their business problem, understanding it, learning more about why they should change, getting the right people involved, getting management support, understanding the risks, developing a project plan for how they manage the work to successful completion. Since they don’t know what they are doing, since this is something they don’t do every day, this is where they need the most help and value sellers who can help them with these issues. Sadly, very few sellers know how to help in this way, so our customers struggle. At some point, once they have done all that work, they will ask you, “How can you help?” That’s when they are ready to talk about solutions.
- Help them navigate their problem solving/buying process. Be an orchestrator, helping them get the right people involved in their project and getting the right resources from your company to help them. Be a sense maker, this is tough stuff, they are overwhelmed. One of the best things we can do is help them make sense of what they are experiencing. Be a confidence builder. Their biggest fear has little to do with solution/product selection. They are worried about messing up. Are they doing the right thing for the organization? For themselves? Help build their confidence.
- Waiting until they have narrowed their focus on possible solutions makes it much tougher for us as sellers. We can only compete on the basis of our solution, features, functions and price. Yet when the customer has developed a shortlist, any of the solutions they consider will solve their problem. So how do you compete to win? How do you differentiate your offerings over the alternatives? It’s really tough to win when any solution will work. Usually, the only differentiator is price/discounting.
- It’s tough to build our healthy pipelines when we wait until they are interested in products. So many who wanted to buy, needed to buy have failed. We never see them, we never get a chance to shift their perspectives and help them succeed. So a minimum of 60% of the opportunity we might have pursued and won, will actually never show up in our pipelines. Think of it this way (I admit it’s simplistic). Without changing your win rate, if each of 100 opportunities was for $100K. If you are only competing for the 40 that make it to the “tell me about your product point.” That means you are competing for $4M in potential opportunity. If you get involved early, with the same win rate, you would be competing for $10M in opportunity. Do the math, it’s easier to hit your goals if you get involved much earlier. Actually this point is not really about making winning easier. It’s all about making winning MORE easier. It’s a good thing!
Winning is never easy! But we make it too hard on ourselves and on the customer with our normal way of working. Look at how you can make it easier!