Delight customers and achieve your goals while saving up to 30% off the entire Insightly platform.
Best value– save up to 30%
Co-founder @ Growth Forum | Host of the Skalable Growth Podcast | Sales Practitioner
There is a ton of noise in today’s B2B buying journey – budget constraints, resource management, fear of change, pressure to choose the perfect solution…
…and things get even more complex when more than one stakeholder is involved. Your champion must now advocate your product internally, gain consensus, and manage the complexities within his or her company.
If your buyer remains overwhelmed, your deal may get stuck in the pipeline…for good. How can you enable your champion and eliminate friction within the buying process?
The answer is called Buyer Enablement. What is buyer enablement, why is it important, and how can sellers master it? In this episode of Closing Time, Chip is joined by Luigi Prestinenzi to talk through buyer enablement strategies that are proven to help B2B sellers make the consensus sale.
You’re likely familiar with the roles of sales or CS (customer success) enablement, which describes the process of aiding your sellers with the necessary tools and resources to best perform in their roles. Similarly, buyer enablement refers to the strategic process of equipping potential customers with the information, resources, and guidance they need to make informed purchase decisions. It goes beyond traditional sales tactics by focusing on educating and empowering buyers throughout their decision-making journey – the focus is on the buyer and their journey, not the sale.
In today’s B2B selling environment, where complex products or services are often involved, the decision-making process usually includes a committee of stakeholders rather than a single individual. More players = more complexity. That complexity doesn’t just make your job as a seller more challenging, but it also impacts your buyer, aka the “champion.” This is where buyer enablement truly shines – it ensures that all stakeholders are well-informed, engaged, and confident in their collective decision, ultimately leading to consensus and successful sales outcomes.
The reality is that more individuals are participating in buying committees than ever before – Gartner reports an average of 6-10 decision-makers in the typical buying group for a complex B2B solution. How can buyer enablement help?
Consider a recent interaction Luigi had with a client in Israel: his client (an enterprise sales rep) was on the verge of finalizing a deal when the head of growth indicated that their CFO wanted to speak with him. This trend of expanded involvement is becoming more common, especially in a challenging economic environment. Sellers need to anticipate and prepare for additional personas to enter the conversation at any stage in the buying process. To help enable his buyer champion, Luigi’s client role-played with his champion to ensure he was armed with the right information to speak with his CFO (e.g., budget, ongoing costs, impact, implementation, ROI, etc.).
Engaging with a CFO or other decision-maker shouldn’t be a cause for concern – preparation is key. In some cases, we should help our buyers present to their CFOs. This might involve role-playing like Luigi’s client did, anticipating objections, and developing responses to ensure consensus. True buyer enablement involves collaborating with our champions within the organization. This means supporting them in facilitating internal discussions even when direct access to the committee isn’t possible. We shouldn’t expect the CFO or CMO to be willing or able to sit on a demo call with us – by establishing strong relationships and showcasing the benefits that align with our champion’s objectives, we enable them to navigate these conversations internally on their own.
In the dynamic realm of modern sales, achieving success requires more than just a transactional approach. Think transformational, not transactional. Sales reps are now catalysts of buyer enablement, orchestrating a dance of engagement that resonates with potential clients and guides them through the intricate path of consensus sales. But to truly succeed in enabling the buyer and engaging multiple decision-makers, you need to be proactive in your selling approach. Here’s how:
Imagine you’re pursuing an opportunity. Instead of rushing into action, take a moment to strategize. We live in an age of incredible tools like LinkedIn and data enrichment resources – leverage these tools to your advantage before you even begin reaching out. Use Sales Navigator to quickly map out the entire organizational structure and gather contact details in a matter of minutes. Before you make that first contact, answer the following questions:
What does the organizational structure look like?
Where can you make an impact?
What is the main problem my product can address and the secondary points of interest?
How will you involve other stakeholders once you engage with your initial contact?
Plan ahead for a multi-threaded approach. Your outreach isn’t just about making a connection; it’s about sharing a valuable perspective. When you secure that first meeting with your potential champion, think ahead. Develop a strategy for involving the next person in the conversation. Your point of view should be compelling and relevant to your champion’s needs and others in the buying committee that you intend to reach out to; remember, their needs may (and likely will) vary from your champions.
Keep in mind: you’re not just a seller; you’re a problem solver. You’ve helped organizations overcome specific challenges and achieve specific outcomes before, making you the master of this specific field – apply your expertise throughout the buyer’s journey. Understand that they might not be as well-versed in the intricacies of your solution as you are, and it’s your job to guide them through the process. Anticipate the path that needs to be taken to reach a successful deal. Plan this out even before your first call, and once your champion is on board, validate this path.
Remember, it’s about preparing and guiding, not reacting and responding.
Many sales consultants and trainers claim that the traditional method of conduction discovery calls is dead. You know, the method where salespeople flood the call with dozens of questions for the customer to answer? Yeah, that discovery call. Rather than engaging in a meandering Q&A session, Luigi recommends that sales reps bring forth a hypothesis, a viewpoint about the buyer’s business. By presenting a hypothesis, the seller demonstrates a deep understanding of the buyer’s industry and challenges without the buyer needing to tell them directly. For instance, drawing on real cases of similar customers in the industry who have tackled comparable situations with successful solutions can substantially enhance the seller’s credibility. This has a twofold benefit – it immediately adds value to the buyer and concurrently validates the proposed solution.
Forming a solid point of view also saves you and your buyer valuable time. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge how valuable your stakeholder’s time is when you join the call. Consider what value you are providing them for the hypothetical hourly wage that they make. Relying solely on a discovery process to unearth pain points and then present solutions falls short of delivering genuine value. By initiating a conversation anchored in a well-informed perspective, sellers can elicit deeper insights about the buyer’s organization and its challenges. Crafting this viewpoint necessitates astute research – not just about the buyer’s profile but also delving into the industry’s nuances. Scouring association publications, their company’s website, LinkedIn, and immersing oneself in the sector’s intricacies contributes to this research-driven superpower. Sellers who immerse themselves in a particular sector, grasping its language and dynamics, inevitably attain momentum. Replicating successful interactions becomes more feasible as the shared insights resonate with like-minded buyers.
Salespeople who effectively embrace buyer enablement witness tangible outcomes, such as enhanced deal velocity, and increased deal sizes that become more predictable. By establishing a point of view, reps build invaluable rapport with prospects. This rapport is crucial because it positions you as a proficient expert, fostering a higher level of trust. Consequently, prospects are more inclined to open up and engage in meaningful conversations about specific topics sooner – this accelerated engagement allows quicker access to the buying committee.
In practical terms, the result is a noticeable reduction in the time it takes for deals to progress – both in terms of sales closure and gaining insights into the opportunity’s viability. A common challenge observed during pipeline audits is opportunities lingering for extended periods, often due to sellers clinging to hopes of their closure. Buyer enablement tackles this issue by facilitating earlier decisions, whether it’s a definitive yes or a constructive no. A no in this context isn’t negative; it provides clarity about the current status and offers insights into adjustments needed for progressing the opportunity.
Buyer enablement’s core strength lies in hastening the decision-making process. It does this by establishing a structured approach that outlines the necessary steps to guide the buying committee toward making a commitment.
How do you help your buyers break through the noise
and feel confident to purchase from you?
We’re going to talk about buyer enablement today on Closing Time.
Hey, everyone, this is Chip House.
I’m CMO of Insightly.
And today on Closing Time,. I’m joined by Luigi Prestinenzi.
He’s a sales coach, a trainer and host of the Skalable Growth podcast.
Welcome, Luigi.. Thanks for having me, Chip.
You bet. Super great to have you.
So today we’re talking about buyer enablement.
So what’s your intro pitch to help the guests out there understand
what this topic’s all about?
Oh. It’s an interesting term, right?
We’ve heard of all different types of enablement
sort of topics over the last few years, but the reason why I’ve absolutely fallen
in love with buyer enablement
is because if we actually truly think about it, our role
as a sales
professional or as a company that’s trying to get somebody else to buy
our product is essentially to educate them, is to enable them,
is to give them the confidence that the decision they’re about to make
is the right decision for them.
And so for me, the buyer enablement piece is all about
not just enabling the one buyer, but especially selling in B2B enterprise.
There’s more than one person now involved in the decision making process.
And buyer enablement is making sure that we’re aligning all people
in that committee, getting consensus, educating and ensuring
every person in that committee can see the benefit and the value to them
so that they can confidently arrive at a point of decision.
So, I mean, there’s a ton to unpack there.
So the first thing is just using the language buyer enablement,
which I think is very kind of friendly to the people you’re trying to sell to, which is,
and it puts the salesperson or the marketer,
you know, immediately in the shoes of who they’re trying to impact.
I mean, so just the name in and of itself is sort of new and refreshing from,
you know, this is
the way to look at sales and marketing and go to market in general. So
and then so the second thing you kind of unpacked there
a little bit,. Luigi, was you’re selling to an org.
So there’s, in today’s B2B environment, it’s not just one person you’re
trying to influence.
There’s multiple people inside of a decision making process
over a journey, right?
And I think I love the way that you framed that up, because
if we think about sales enablement or marketing enablement,
from your perspective, it’s about, you know,
how do we enable your own team to achieve success?
That’s essentially what buyer enablement is, right?
How do we achieve our customers to achieve success?
And we need to start changing the way we think about this because it’s not
about us. It’s about them.
And you’re absolutely right.
More people are getting involved in that buying committee.
I was on a call with a client last night from Israel,
and they said they’re at the last,
they had sent in the quote already.
They’re waiting for it to be digitally signed.
But then the head of growth came back and said, hey, our CFO
wants to have a talk to you. Right.
And he said he’s now starting to see a pattern of this happening more and more.
So I think that’s another opportunity for both,
you know, marketing teams and sales teams is to start to understand that
in an economic environment that might be getting a bit tougher,
the CFO and other people
are going to get involved in these decision making decisions.
And if you’re not preparing for it, if you’re not thinking about
the additional personas that might be getting involved in the conversation,
then you’re not truly able to enable them as a committee
to get consensus and arrive at that point of decision.
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense.
So if you are a salesperson and you’re used to kind of
doing an org level sale, right, where you’re interacting maybe
with a CFO, marketing person, a salesperson, an ops person,
somebody on the CS side, you’ve already kind of built that muscle tissue.
And so now it doesn’t freak you out when somebody says, Hey,
I need to bring in my CFO.
You should be prepared for it.
And then in some cases,
we should be preparing our buyer anyway to present to the CFO
because they’re going to have to go get their budgetary approval and again,
one of my other clients, I love this concept of what they implemented
during one of our coaching sessions was
they actually took the time and they role played with their champion
on presenting the business case to their executive team.
And they discussed with them
what would be some of the objections that might come up.
And then they worked on those objections.
They worked on the responses.. They worked on,
How would you then respond to it?
How would you then get them, you know, get that consensus?
And I love that because that for me is true
buyer enablement, because if we have a champion,
if we have built a relationship with somebody
and the benefit to them is quite significant and the business case
for them is something that’s going to enable them to achieve their objectives,
then it’s our job to help them facilitate those internal conversations
in the event that we can’t get access to those people in the committee.
When you have a committee right
I mean, if you think about a general buyer’s journey
and you’re trying to make an impact such that
a prospect knows you, likes you, trusts you, right.
And so you’re trying to multiply that times two, three, four times, right?
And so, so talk to me about truly doing an org level engagement
where you’re successfully enabling the buyer and truly multiple buyers,
somebody truly within that group might be the actual economic buyer
and others are influencers.
But tell me, take us through the steps, Luigi,
for how a salesperson can best approach that.
Well, I think the first thing is in any pursuit, right?
Any new pursuit plan, and this is where. I think sometimes sellers are quick
to react, they’re quick to go to market, chase down prospects, build their lists.
I mean, we live in such a luxurious world, Chip.
I know back in you know
I’m not that old right, i’ve hit 40, but I’ve been selling my entire life
we didn’t have access when I first started selling to tools
like LinkedIn or data enrichment tools that you could literally build
in sales navigator you can org map.. You can literally sit there
and in 5 minutes
you’ve got the entire org map and then you’ve got all the contact details
and then you can actually do a quick search and find out all this information
about the org map. Right.
It used to take us, you know, literally hours upon hours
to do that research back in the day.
And I think we don’t actually
utilize those tools to our advantage before we start to reach out.
And for me, again, if I’m reaching out to an opportunity,
I want to kind of think about, okay, what does this structure look like?
Where is the problem that I know
that I can have an impact?. Where’s a secondary point?
Because I want to make sure multithreading and then what is my pursuit
plan around this opportunity and what does my point of view need to look like?
And also think step two or three, when I do get that meeting, say,
with this person that could possibly be my champion,
what’s going to be my strategy to then leverage
the next person to come into that conversation?
And these are the things
that we should be thinking about when we’re pursuing opportunities, right?
Because if we’re not in our pre-call planner, if we’re not preparing for that,
then we’re not actually building
our action plan with our
prospect about getting the other stakeholders involved in the conversation.
Like we should be thinking about that earlier in the piece
and not being reactive in the sales process.
Because as a sales professional
we solve these problems every single day.
We’re working with organizations around a certain problem
and helping organizations achieve a certain outcome.
Just like with Insightly, right?
You’re helping customers
shorten the sales cycle, increase win rates, right?
That’s what you helping them with every single day and drop the cost
And you’re seeing patterns when engaging with buyers,
you know, certain things and you also know how
sort of a deal needs to be constructed in order to get to an outcome.
So therefore, you should also, the seller should be
then guiding the buyer through this process as well,
because you’re doing this all the time.
The buyer is not necessarily buying what you sell all the time, right?
So they might not have the level
of education on what needs to happen to get this deal done.
And this is where we need to be
preparing that at the very first moment in our pre-call
planner, give consideration to what might that path look like
and then validate that with that champion once they’ve decided that, yes,
this is something we want to investigate further.
So I know that’s a long a long answer, Chip.
But I’ve gone around the few different spots but
it’s not just an easy response is saying, hey, you know, do this to get this.
And you dug into a couple of things there that
I really liked and one is sort of that informed process
where you’re sort of building confidence with the buyer.
We had Doug Landis on, Luigi,. I think you’re familiar with Doug
and he goes as far as saying is, hey, the discovery call is dead,
you know, and because you and I have all been on
the calls where you have a salesperson and they just ask
you endless questions, you’re wondering, where is this going? Right.
And you’ve added maybe zero value at that point
as a salesperson if you’re just asking questions, right.
Versus showing up with a hypothesis about their business, a point of view.
Hey, I’ve seen customers like you in your industry with a similar situation.
They’ve solved the problem in this way and you’re actually
truly adding value to the buyer right then in the process
and you’re building confidence
and you’re validating your solution by doing so.
And so you know, what
tools, you know, what other tips do you have to help a salesperson develop
a strong hypothesis that’s truly buyer helpful?
I’m a big, big, big fan of the point of view
because again, if I’m going to speak to a buyer,
you know, if we think about it, the very first thing
that we’re getting time from a buyer and time is valuable.
Like, you know, if you think about a C-level executive,
if you actually, if you do the calculation and what does it cost us?
What does it cost the C-level executive to give an hour,
half an hour of their time to a salesperson?
It’s actually you know, it’s a couple of hundred bucks potentially.
We’ve got to be asking ourselves, what are we giving them for that hundred
$200 of their time?
And if we’re just turning up and you’re
right, doing a discovery and, you know, trying to find the pain
so that we can then present a solution, that’s not really creating any value.
So that point of view for me is fundamental because a point of view
allows us to have a conversation.
It allows us to then conduct a discovery
because the point of view will open the conversation to a
how is that impacting or is this happening for you and your organization?
Now, the best way to come up with that point of view
as a seller, if I’m speaking to 50 CMO’s,. I’m going to start to see some trends.
I’m going to start to see some opportunities, right?
Plus my own research.
This is why doing research on your ideal customer profile, but going
deeper, going deeper into the industry, looking at association publications right.
The more and this is why I often say research
as a sales professional is your superpower,
because your ability to research
and learn about that sector allows you to come up with that point of view.
And you know, often. I know early in my career
that when I started selling to one industry, look, one type of company,
I would find momentum in that sector and I would land two, three, four,
five similar companies in the same sector. Why?
Because I started talking their language.
I started learning about their sector.
And then I’m able to share that insight with other people like them.
Because the thing is, our buyers don’t have all the answers.
And there was a study done by Vanilla Soft which was pretty cool,
which they surveyed I think it was about 5000 senior decision makers.
I’ve got to confirm how many people it was.
And they actually said
if you’re a sales person getting time on my calendar.
88% of the respondents said our minimum expectation of you
is, know my industry, know my challenges, and know my problems.
Right.. And have some sort of insight to share.
That’s the minimum expectations that buyers have today, because otherwise,
why should I give up my time to you as a seller
if you’re not going to help educate me or share any insight with me?
Doesn’t make sense.
You know, and as a buyer, you know,. I obviously buy software.
You can feel it, it’s palpably different when the salesperson
understands your business and what you might be struggling with.
It truly is an entirely different situation.
Well, you started to drill into it a little bit there, Luigi.
And as we’re coming to the end, so talk to me about outcomes.
What specific outcomes do you see as a salesperson?
Rather, you know, deal velocity
or maybe deal size that you’re truly able to predict
or do a better job at as a salesperson when you crush the buyer enablement piece.
The opportunity for sellers, when they’re able to come up
with that point of view, you’re going to build
in most cases,
the rapport that you build with your prospects.
You increase that rapport
because they see you as a professional.
And I think this is really important, right?
They see that you’ve got capability.
So the level of trust is higher.
Their willingness to open up is there
and you’re able to get to a point of conversation
about a particular topic sooner and therefore, if you can do that quicker,
you can then get access to that buying
committee in a shorter timeframe.
So what will happen is, you’re right, deal that velocity
that time to sale will shorten or that time to know will shorten.
And I think this is really important, we often see, you know, when I do like a
audit, I find that there’s some opportunities there that are just stuck
and they’ve been in there for 100, 150 days and you’re like, Why are they still there?
Because sellers kind of hold onto them.
That’s the worst outcome for sellers
to just hold onto opportunities that are never going to close right.
Because their hope, they’re using hope is a strategy.
So when you
truly think about buyer enablement, you’re able to get to an outcome sooner.
A yes or no.
And a no is not necessarily a bad thing because a no could be, OK
now we know exactly the current state of play
and what we need to do differently to maybe progress that opportunity, right?
So that’s the key thing with buyer enablement.
It allows us to move to that point of decision quicker
a very clear process on what are the steps that we need
to facilitate in order to get that buying committed to a point of decision.
That’s amazing, Luigi.. So, BANT is dead.
The discovery call is dead.. Buyer enablement is fully wired
and in, but it’s just crazy how this space has changed.
So any final thoughts?
No. Look, if you want to enable your buying journey,
I guess you’ve got to sign up to Insightly because that’ll help you
shorten the sales cycle and increase your win rates.
You bet. Well played.
Well, hey, so thanks so much for showing up on this episode
of Closing Time, Luigi, it was really amazing.
And thanks to all of you for joining us on this episode.
We’ll see you next time.