Understand Buyer Perceptions

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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Handling RFPs You Didnot Wire

Sales Tip: Handling RFPs You Did NOT Wire

In the first months of my career I received an RFP from the US Coast Guard Academy. My initial excitement faded as realized it was for equipment totaling about $6,000. Despite the fact that they had several of these devices installed and there was no competition I had to make a detailed response that included posting a security bond. I spent a few hours in my response, won the business and probably netted less than minimum wage for my time and effort. I came to despise the RFP process whether it was for commercial or government entities.

When receiving an unsolicited RFP many sellers get excited. Some even delude themselves into believing their offering is a perfect fit and they have a great chance at winning the business.

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Increase Competitive Win Rates

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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Sales Reps Quotas Fourth Quarter

5 Ways to Survive the Frenetic Fourth Quarter

A constant reality for salespeople is quota pressure. There are years when everything goes well and hardly a thought is given to whether numbers will be achieved. If 2017 has been a year like that I hope you’re enjoying it.

Remember that coming off a strong year often means starting January 1st at zero with more aggressive numbers to make. For B and C Players most years are a grind to achieve quotas.

On average about half of salespeople meet or exceed quota.

I wanted to provide my thoughts about how to manage to your number:

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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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Costly Mistakes Sellers Make

Sales Tip: 2 Costly Mistakes Sellers Make When Squeezed

“I need your best and final price.”

This question marks the beginning of the pricing squeeze and is often asked after multiple vendors have issued quotes or proposals. Very often it’s asked by a non-Key Player that senior management designates to make this request. Sellers can waste valuable time and leave money on the table if they make the wrong responses.

Two (2) examples of BAD and COSTLY responses:

  • “Where do I need to be?” This is the worst possible response a salesperson can give. It amounts to acknowledging a discount is in order. Beyond that sellers give the impression they have unlimited authority to discount. This response allows buyers to wrest control of negotiations because smart buyers will specify the price they want to pay, not the price they’re willing to pay. Final pricing is strongly influenced by how low the bar is set. I refer to “Where do I need to be?” as the 6 most expensive words salespeople can utter.
  • Offer a lower price. This can backfire and the buyer’s end game is usually to leverage lower pricing to pressure the vendor of choice to discount. There may also be instances where the price given becomes the starting point for negotiations if and when decision makers get involved. Once a seller makes a concession it becomes a slippery slope as buyers press for even better deals.

Try This Approach Instead:

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Outcomes 2017 for Win Loss and Customer Experience Pros

Outcomes 2017 Speaker Spotlight: Jarod Greene

If you want to clearly understand how to use sales, marketing and product acumen 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:

Jarod Greene

Vice President of Product Marketing for Cherwell Software

Uncovering Weak Spots and Barriers to Success session

Outcomes 2017 Jarod Greene Vice President of Product Marketing

Jarod Greene is the Vice President of Product Marketing at Cherwell Software.

A recent Primary Intelligence customer, Jarod worked closely with Sales Enablement and Product Management to shorten sales cycles, increase average deal size, and improve win rates.

He attributes much of this success to the work performed with Primary Intelligence.

His primary application of win loss analysis has been within messaging and position, sales training, and product development prioritization and validation.

Jarod shared, “I’m excited to meet other B2B sales and marketing leaders to share ideas and best practices. Win loss has exposed me to methods and approaches that extract insight from evaluators that I otherwise would not have gathered. 

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Best Practices for Handling Sales Proposals

Sales Tip: Best Practices for Handling Sales Proposals

As a sales manager one of my least favorite activities was creating forecasts every month. One of the things that made it difficult was the fact that in my mind most sellers generated proposals too early when developing opportunities. They believed it was a step toward getting orders.

In my experience, a proposal represents activity but not necessarily progress.

I’ll share with you some thoughts and best practices for handling sales proposals:

  1. Issuing proposals too early
  2. Purpose and role of proposals in the buying cycle
  3. 10 questions sellers should ask themselves before issuing proposals
  4. Stale proposals
  5. Withdrawal strategy

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Outcomes 2017 Speaker Spotlight: Frank Visgatis

If you are looking to visibly understand how to improve sales performance to win in a highly competitive market, then sign up for Outcomes 2017 conference.

Outcomes 2017 will be the event for 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:

Frank Visgatis

President & Chief Operating Officer for CustomerCentric Selling®

Co-Speaker for Delivering Outcomes; Not Data with Ken Allred, CEO

Panelist for Outcomes Success Panel with Nick Siddoway, VP, Delivery & Transformation

Outcomes 2017 Frank Visgatis President & CEO CustomerCentric Selling

Frank is an American author, entrepreneur, keynote speaker and Sales and Management consultant. He is known for his sales training and consulting work worldwide with global organizations in high technology, software, travel and other B2B and B2C organizations.

Frank authored CustomerCentric Selling (Second Edition) published by McGraw-Hill in December 2009, which introduces the new needs of selling in a buyer-driven world. He also contributed work to the original CustomerCentric Selling published in November 2003 and Rethinking the Sales Cycle published in December 2009, also published by McGraw-Hill.

Frank shared, “I’m very excited to be a part of the Outcomes conference this year. Primary Intelligence has a great focus on buyer needs, which is the core of what CustomerCentric Selling® has been delivering since 2002. I’m looking forward to participating with the other speakers so I can contribute my thoughts and insights on what organizations can do to better align with their buyers and make a direct impact on their revenue performance.

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How to create superior buying experiences

Sales Tip: The Buyer’s Bill of Rights

The 4th of July holiday is the time of year when Americans pause to give thought to the freedoms our forefathers treasured and were willing to fight to secure. Oppression was and is a powerful motivator.

Since 1993 I’ve railed against traditional selling approaches. In the last decade buyers have leveled the playing field in starting to dictate how they want to be treated. I regret to say most vendors have failed to align with this changing landscape.

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Outcomes 2017 Speaker Spotlight: Bob Acosta

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:

Bob Acosta

Senior Vice President, Casualty Sales for Mitchell International

Be A Support Tool for Sales & Account Representatives session

Outcomes 2017 Bob Acosta Senior Vice President Casualty Sales

Bob is committed to continuous improvement and development of each member of his national sales team. He is a passionate supporter of the win loss analysis program, which he credits for influencing the modification in his organization’s messaging and sales approach.

Using lessons learned from interviews and recommendations from Primary Intelligence has been a large part of his team’s improved win/loss ratio resulting in increased confidence among team members.

This is Bob’s first year to join the Outcomes conference and he is looking forward to learning from peers and presenters alike.

Bob shared, “I’m excited to connect with others driving change through client and prospect feedback within their organizations.

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Win Loss Analysis: How to Calculate Your Win Rate

 

How to Analyze Sales Win Rate

If you pare down to the simplest method, calculating your sales win rate is the number of pursuits you win to the number you lose. So if you are involved in 100 sales engagements and you win 40 of them, you have a 40 percent win rate.

However, where do you draw the line as to what constitutes an engaged sales deal? You could look at every lead provided to the sales team or you could choose to include only the deals that get past a certain stage in the sales process.

Some organizations only count leads that are “sales ready” as true opportunities.

“Sales Ready” is when the prospective buyer Read more

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 a win loss program, 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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Understanding Why Good Sales Teams Lose in Competitive B2B Opportunities [eBook]

We spoke with a customer who did not to choose our client’s solution following an extensive evaluation. The main reason for this loss was that the customer had no confidence in our client’s ability to deliver a solution based on the fact that the client did not fully understand its customer’s business needs. This was represented by the ratings for sales performance, solution features, and company drivers.

One of the reasons that our client did not adequately understand the customer’s business needs was that the sales team didn’t take the time to ask the right questions. This was evidenced by the client presentation and the shallow responses to customer questions when asked about solution capabilities. Our client’s implementation plan was also questioned as being “really quick” compared to other vendors, another indication of our client’s lack of understanding of the customer’s business needs.

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how to think like your customer

Sales Tip: How to Think Like Your Customer

In order to think like the customer, salespeople need to talk less about product features and talk more about real life situations to which customers can relate. In CustomerCentric Selling, we call this a usage scenario. Usage scenarios work when selling any product or service to any business or consumer. Over the years, we’ve worked with a wide range of companies in a variety of industries spanning the gamut from retail banks and companies offering credit card sales to merchants, overnight delivery services, and temporary housing providers.

All benefited from this approach, even in cases where the offering was just one in a crowded field of entries. In fact, our experience suggests that in situations where the offering is perceived as a commodity – that is, interchangeable with the competition – the most powerful differentiator is the buyer’s conversation with the salesperson.

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Sales Tip: The Power of “No”

Many people have unusual thoughts about selling. I wanted to share two strange views people have shared with me:

1. One person’s definition of selling was: “Saying yes to buyers until you have to say no.

2. Another offered the advice: “Never confuse the sell with the install.

The message from both was the same and reflects a belief that sellers should say whatever is necessary to get the business and sort things out after getting the order. Certainly following this approach doesn’t make a positive buying experience a likely outcome.

In my experience, there are times when by saying “no” sellers can establish credibility with buyers. In some cases, they can improve their relationship. I wanted to share some examples.

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Proposals - Activity or Progress

Sales Tip: Proposals – Activity or Progress?

As sellers become competent they start to recognize the difference between sales activity and progress. When first going on quota virtually every seller is busy. Many are overwhelmed as they try to perform activities they’ve never done before. Over time most sellers start to understand what activities move opportunities forward. This understanding allows them to be productively busy. Competent sellers recognize buyers that will just waste their time, situations with low probabilities of success, situations where they can’t gain access to decision makers, etc.

In my experience writing proposals Read more