Sales Teams Understand Buyer Needs

Why B2B Sales Professionals Must Understand Buyers’ Needs

Why is understanding business needs so critical to B2B buyers?

When buyers feel confident the sales rep understands their pain points, they’re also reassured that the rep will find the best solution to address those pain points and fill a need. In fact, solving business needs is a high priority for B2B buyers. Sales professionals who understand these needs will solve fundamental business problems for their buyers and have a greater success at closing deals than their counterparts who choose not to listen at all.

However, gaining a deep understanding of these buyers requires significant effort, patience, and good listening skills. It’s a journey that can take quite some time to perfect. When you’re a sales rep and you’re selling a product or service to a business buyer, understanding the other person is critical to your career success. Among other items, you must discover:

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Selling to the B2B Market

3 Things You Must Know Before Selling to the B2B Market

In recent years, selling to the B2B market has presented new challenges for companies such as buyers’ growing tendency to vet vendors using online research and the interplay between the B2B and B2C buyer experience.

B2B buyers identifying and selecting their top tier of vendors for purchase evaluations—including the short list of contenders—often do so with very little or NO input from sales or company reps. Buyers also expect excellence from their vendors, based largely on their expectations from their experiences as consumers in B2C transactions.

So, what should companies selling to the B2B market know before they engage with their buyers?

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How to Win at a Higher Price Report

New B2B Industry Report Available, “How to Win at a Higher Price”

What are the chances you can win a B2B sales deal that’s priced higher than your competitors? As challenging as it may be, winning a competitive bid is not impossible.

How often do B2B buyers select the more expensive offering? In Primary Intelligence’s newest industry report, How to Win at a Higher Price, we examined nearly 900 B2B purchase decisions and competitive evaluations.

Our study discovered that 25% of wins sell at a higher price but selling at a higher price does pose a risk. Almost 50% of lost sales are priced higher than the competition.

That said, our research revealed that buyers will take into consideration the vendor’s product performance, company stability, customer support, and understanding of business needs and weigh the risk versus the value. If their evaluation shows high confidence in those areas, the higher priced vendor will win, but disadvantages in just one area may result in a lost sale. When vendors’ products show distinct similarities, buyers compare costs and frequently select the lower priced vendor.

Nonetheless, all is not lost. B2B sellers with the higher priced solution do close sales deals.

So how did a quarter of those wins in our study sell at a higher price?

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Identifying the Right Solutions for Customers

7 Problems with Using the Word “Solutions” with Buyers

Vendors and salespeople seem enamored with the word: “Solution.”

In my mind the term is vague, usually misused and a terrible waste of three syllables. Whether in marketing brochures, on websites or during sales calls, the phrase “We’ve/I’ve got the solution for you” seems presumptuous and self-serving.

How many buyers actually believe those statements to be true?

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Win Loss Analysis Definition

What is Win Loss Analysis?

At the most basic level, win loss analysis helps sales, marketing, and product leaders understand the reasons for their organizational wins and losses so that they can increase their win rates and capture more business in the future.

Win loss programs are important at all levels of the organization because it helps explain why buyers choose specific solutions and why they do not choose others.

At a higher level, win loss programs help transform organizations as they make fundamental changes to what are often systemic problems. When managers see patterns in buyer feedback that consistently show outstanding—or sub-par—performance, they can replicate best practices throughout their organizations and avoid root cause behaviors that hinder long-term success. In this way, win loss analysis is sometimes compared to Kaizen, the Japanese practice of continuous improvement.

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Sales Intelligence for Strategy

Win Loss Best Practice Series: Competitive Intelligence Leads to Strategic Decisions

Any electrical socket around you provides a tap to a near endless supply of energy. Inside the wires, there is enough power to run a houseful of gadgets, recharge your electric car or deliver an awful shock (don’t try that at home).

But, until you use the power to do something (turn on the lights, recharge your phone, etc.), it really doesn’t offer much value. For the electricity to be effective, it must power something that is important to you. Otherwise, it is just a bunch of electrons with potential energy sitting in copper wiring.

Your competitive intelligence is very similar to the electricity in your wires. You can collect as much competitive intelligence as you like, but until someone uses it to power change in your company, it really isn’t effective at all.

Competitive Intelligence for Strategy

Your competitive intelligence is most effective if it:

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Understand Buyer Perceptions in sales deals

How to Sway Your Buyers’ Decision in B2B Sales Deals

Although B2B buyers are most interested in product features and functionality when evaluating companies, buyer’s perception of your company can sway their decision in your favor (or not). Primary Intelligence discovered that 20% of buyers, approximately 1 in 5, rate vendors as “poor” in most company-related criteria.

While solution capabilities are typically the most important aspect in B2B sales evaluations, consideration of how vendors are perceived overall – including vendor reputation, service and support, and future direction – are also influential in the final decision.

How can you improve buyers’ perceptions of your company? Here are three best practices you can implement at your organization.

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Increase Competitive Win Rates

Win Loss Analysis Best Practice Series: Seven Marketing Best Practices to Increase Competitive Win Rates

No matter which industry you’re in, sales evaluations play a major part in your company’s success. While product features and functionality are usually the most important aspects in an evaluation, buyers still consider company reputation, service and support, and future direction in the final decision.

Here are seven best practices you can apply to increase competitive win rates for your company.

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CRM Data Competitive Advantage

Why the Quality of CRM Data is the Keystone to Competitive Advantage

Recently, The Economist published an article titled “The World’s Most Valuable Resource Is No Longer Oil, But Data.” That article focuses on the market domination of internet giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Google (among others). These profitable titans use their vast stores of data to capitalize on their size and maintain their market advantage. “Google can see what people search for, Facebook what they share, Amazon what they buy.” Their market intelligence comes from the quantity they collect, with quality being a lot less important.

For the hundreds of thousands of businesses that aren’t one of the internet behemoths, organizations that face a treacherous competitive landscape and possess far fewer data points to rely on, the quality of data is the key to using it to your advantage.

We think of Customer Relations Management (“CRM”) system’s primary purpose as being the facilitation of the sales process. Your sales reps need something to keep track of their deals in a manner that is superior to a spreadsheet. But, the truth is, if we just want to keep track of things, a spreadsheet would work just fine.

Another, better way to define a CRM is: “CRM aligns business processes with customer strategies to build customer loyalty and increase profits over time.” That’s a pretty inclusive definition that is clearly more than just tracking a transaction. And yet, how many sales professionals treat the CRM as a tracking tool?

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Apple laptop. Business discussion.

Win Loss Analysis Best Practice Series: Six Strategic Recommendations to Apply to Your Program

Win loss programs are important at all levels of the organization because they help explain why buyers choose specific solutions and why they do not choose others. Win loss takes us beyond market research and competitive intelligence.

Win loss analysis is more than just gathering, analyzing, and interpreting information about a market. It’s more than just sizing a market and understanding the growth rate, competitors, and buying segments. Win loss research is a sales, product, and marketing enablement tool focused on improving sales, improving the product/service, and improving a company’s market presence as a result of listening to customers.

Here are six strategic recommendations you can apply to your win loss analysis.

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Share B2B Customer Experience Insights with Employees

Six Tips for Sharing B2B Customer Experience Insights with Employees

At Primary Intelligence, broad access to customer experience (CX) information is viewed as a best practice since this gives employees, managers, and executives deeper insights into customer perceptions of the organization. Widespread access also allows individuals at every level to construct possible remedies to address customer concerns and gives impetus and support for new initiatives.

Research from the State of Customer Experience revealed the groups with greatest access to customer experience information are executive management (81 percent), sales management and leadership (79 percent), and marketing (74 percent). Interestingly, less than half (49 percent) of organizations provide access to customer experience information to their sales support and enablement teams. “Other” groups with access to customer experience data include support, human resources, legal, quality, engineering, and operations.

Share B2B Customer Experience Insights with Employees Chart

 

Even if the desire exists to share CX data, however, putting a mechanism in place to ensure customer feedback is available throughout the organization can be challenging. In fact, it’s a stumbling block that many companies encounter, especially when they’re large and geographically dispersed.

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Outcomes 2017 Speaker Spotlight: Debbi Tillman

Outcomes 2017 conference focuses forward in this year’s collaborative presentations and workshops.

Our conference is bringing together seasoned experts in sales, marketing, and product management to discuss current issues facing business professionals.

This year’s program features presentations from executives who will offer their unique perspectives and approaches to win loss and customer experience analysis.

Speaker Spotlight:

Debbi Tillman

Director of Program Management for Mitchell International

Implementing an Effective Customer Success Strategy session

Outcomes 2017 Debbi Tillman Director of Program ManagementDebbi has built a career around passion for the customer experience and began using the Customer Experience Survey in 2017.

Her concentration on the customer began over a decade ago leading insights and internal operational metrics programs for Starbucks Coffee Company.

She is especially interested in building holistic programs that marry insights with brand, culture, operational excellence programs and innovation.

Debbi is looking forward to collaborating with other conference attendees and experts at this year’s Outcomes conference.

She shared, “Our program has pushed us as an organization to deepen our customer relationships and focus.

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Outcomes 2017 for Win Loss and Customer Experience Pros

Outcomes 2017 Speaker Spotlight: Penny Queller

If you want to clearly understand how to use sales acumen and competitive intelligence to position your company to close more deals, then sign up for Outcomes 2017 conference.

Outcomes 2017 will be filled with helpful information and valuable networking opportunities. Collaborate and generate innovative ideas with other sales, marketing, and product management professionals.

This conference is an intensive and intimate opportunity to connect with business leaders and listen to their strategies.

Speaker Spotlight:

Penny Queller

Senior Vice President and General Manager for Monster

Leveraging Win Loss & No Decision Analysis session

 

As a powerful thought leader and relentless innovator, Penny leads Monster’s Staffing business unit and brings more than 20 years’ experience in all facets of talent acquisition technology and solutions.

Her progressive perspectives in talent management ensures HR and talent leaders represent a strategic role in driving organizational success regionally, globally and deliver true competitive advantage.

Penny is passionate about issues such as supporting women in the workforce, promoting diversity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility and was recently recognized by HRO Today – Superstar Award.

She is often quoted in business publications and speaks frequently as a Subject Matter Expert on recruitment trends and solutions at various industry events.

 

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Outcomes 2017 Speaker Spotlight: Dave Morfas

Outcomes 2017 conference focuses forward in this year’s collaborative presentations and workshops.

Our conference is bringing together seasoned experts in sales, marketing, and product management to discuss current issues facing business professionals.

This year’s program features presentations from executives who will offer their unique perspectives and approaches to win loss and customer experience analysis.

Speaker Spotlight:

Dave Morfas

Director of Marketing for Plex

Be Mindful of Root Causes breakout session

 

Outcomes 2017 Dave Morfas Marketing Director

Dave has worked directly with both sales teams and customers for twenty years in marketing, pre- and post-sales roles in the telecom and software industries for Tellabs, Consona, Aptean and Plex Systems.

He develops informed sales strategies that align product and company differentiators to prospect business needs, and uses best practices and insights from Primary Intelligence to deliver the path of least resistance toward winning new customers.

Dave is looking forward to learning from peers and sharing his experiences with win loss analysis at Outcomes 2017.

 

 

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Outcomes 2017 Speaker Spotlight: Jeff Moloughney

Are you ready to get on the fast track to discovering insights and achieving results with win loss and customer experience programs?

Outcomes 2017 conference is just 12 weeks away.

We are excited to feature our clients as speakers at Outcomes 2017.

These speakers will be sharing best practices and insights on how they use Win Loss and Customer Experience analysis to close sales deals, accelerate revenue, and achieve customer success. They’ll be showing you the best ways to reach measurable business outcomes.

Speaker Spotlight:

JEFF MOLOUGHNEY

Vice President Product Marketing for CA Technologies

Being Consistent with the Scheduling Process breakout-session

Outcomes 2017 Jeff Moloughney Product Marketing

Jeff guides teams to define product positioning, craft unique messaging, and build creative content designed to drive lead generation, fill the sales pipeline, and help customers transform ideas to outcomes, quicker.

His win loss analysis program provides the necessary intelligence to accomplish these responsibilities. Jeff values the detailed competitive information he receives from the Primary Intelligence team. This allows him to focus on other areas of the business.

Jeff is excited to meet the attendees and hear first-hand how other teams are managing competitive win loss techniques and discover the latest trends.
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Unexpected Benefits of Customer Experience Programs

Four Unexpected Benefits of Customer Experience Programs

Win loss analysis is not the only form of buyer analysis. Another one occurs long after the sale. Customer experience interviews focus more on the product and solution than on the buying process and provide insights on key capabilities, missing capabilities, and ideal market profiles.

Customer experience touchpoints should occur immediately after the initial implementation of your solution and again periodically throughout the life of the solution’s use. A common practice is to engage with customers every six months to measure their satisfaction and identify areas for improvement in product, support, and training.

During its research, Primary Intelligence discovered four unexpected benefits from Customer Experience programs:

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Prescription pills spilled on table

Customer Experience Insight Saves 1.5 Billion Dollar Renewal

In the dog eat dog world of pharmaceuticals, winning or losing your renewal contract has heavy ramifications. Knowing your customers’ experience and the key decision drivers that keep them coming back is critical when playing at this level, as the competition is fierce, and loyalty is in no way guaranteed.

Knowing your customers’ experience and the key decision drivers that keep them coming back is critical when playing at this level, as the competition is fierce, and loyalty is in no way guaranteed.

We helped a major pharmaceutical company that needed to win that fight come hell or high water. All suspense aside, you already know by the title of this post that they were successful in exploring the voice of their customer to win the deal.

By incorporating a customer experience program, our client successfully renewed a billion dollar contract. Here’s how we helped them do it.

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Win Loss for Competitive Sales

Win Loss Analysis for Competitive Sales: When You Know More, You Win More

 

Why Win Loss Analysis for Competitive Sales?

Win loss analysis is a branch of market research focused on understanding why companies win or lose new business opportunities. By implementing win loss for sales, you can obtain reliable, actionable, and unbiased feedback about how well your sales team performed in recent competitive opportunities. You can identify the best practices of your top performers, your competitive positioning within each opportunity, how well your solutions were received, and much more.

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Sales Presentations - Scripted or not?

Win Loss Best Practice Series: Scripted versus Tailored Sales Presentations

Is it better to have a scripted sales presentation or a tailored one? The guiding principle in any sales process should be listening to your buyer and tailoring your sales presentations to meet your buyer’s unique business needs.

Then again, having a template for your presentation is helpful because you don’t have time to reinvent the wheel every time you need to present to a new prospect. Just plug and play, copy and paste. Makes sense, right?

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Buyers sense of urgency - fire alarm

Do Your Buyers Have A Sense Of Urgency?

When trying to get to the end of sales cycles, sellers always seem to be in a hurry. In stark contrast, buyers frequently drag their feet before making decisions to spend money. Consider how often close dates slip for opportunities in the forecast. This discrepancy in decision time frames can cause sellers to close prematurely, offer discounts to accelerate decisions and pressure buyers. In extreme situations, deals can be lost. It often comes down to the seller’s or vendor’s agenda of needing to book orders at month, quarter or year-end.

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