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Founder @ Kim Cram Consulting | Sales Leader and Coach
In the world of sports, we expect a new game plan every week depending on the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses.
So why do we run the same plays for every prospect?
In this episode of Closing Time, Kim Cram talks with Insightly’s Dave Osborne about how sales leaders can coach up their teams to understand each individual in the B2B buying committee and change the game plan on the fly for better outcomes.
They’ll share the four questions every seller should answer when working with prospects: Who are they? What matters to them? What pains/problems do they have? What is the impact of those pain points?
There are many parallels between sales leadership and sport coaching. Kim shares two types of coaches she’s encountered throughout her career. The first type of coach never deviates from the same game plan, regardless of the opponent. It didn’t matter who we faced; we followed the same offense and played man-to-man defense. Unfortunately, this approach proved frustrating. Despite her team’s talent, they didn’t achieve the level of success they should have. It was a year filled with missed opportunities. Conversely, the second type of coach left no stone unturned. They meticulously researched their opponents, thoroughly studying each player’s strengths and weaknesses. They entered every game with an intricate understanding of the rivals and executed their strategy accordingly. This approach allowed them to win games that seemed unlikely on paper. By exploiting the opponents’ weaknesses and neutralizing their strengths, they emerged victorious more often than expected.
Now, let’s consider how this translates to the business world. Buying committees are constantly evolving, and we’re witnessing an increase in the number of decision-makers involved in SaaS deals. In the past, two to three stakeholders would typically be part of the evaluation process, but according to Gartner, we’re now seeing six to ten decision-makers involved. Moreover, CFOs are taking on a more significant role in evaluating these solutions. To adapt to this changing landscape, it’s crucial to understand each individual’s role within the buying committee and what matters to them. It’s akin to studying the strengths and weaknesses of different players in a basketball game. By tailoring your approach to their specific needs and thought processes, you can increase your chances of securing a meeting or closing a deal.
This level of understanding should be applied throughout the entire sales process. From prospecting to delivering a demo, it’s vital to speak the language of each individual and address their unique concerns. Avoid the “one size fits all” mentality and instead cater your approach to optimize results. By demonstrating that you’ve done your homework and executing based on who they are and what matters to them, you’ll enhance your ability to achieve success.
When engaging with a buying committee, addressing the topics that matter to each member is crucial. To achieve this, there are four questions to consider. Let’s start with the first question: who are they? We need to determine the buying committee’s roles within the organization. For example, if there’s a CFO involved, but the person you’re selling to is a marketing professional or the end-user, their perspectives and priorities will differ significantly. Recognizing their roles enables you to tailor your messaging effectively.
You should also understand their personality types and thinking patterns. Different individuals have distinct ways of processing information and making decisions. By understanding their personalities, you can ensure that your messaging aligns with their preferences. Whether during the prospecting phase, throughout the sales process, or even in your follow-ups, your focus should be on catering to their unique mindset and who they are as individuals. Avoid adopting a rigid approach of “here’s how I do it, take it or leave it.” Instead, adapt your strategy based on the characteristics and needs of the individuals you’re engaging with. This personalized approach enhances your chances of resonating with each member of the buying committee and ultimately increases your likelihood of success.
Each member of the buying committee will have different priorities and evaluation criteria based on their roles and perspectives. For instance, the CFO’s focus might revolve around the return on investment (ROI) and the potential efficiency gains the product can bring to the organization. They are likely to consider broader, big-picture factors.
On the other hand, when dealing with individuals in marketing or similar roles, their concerns will be centered around what directly impacts them. Understanding how they are measured and what they are trying to achieve is essential. By putting yourself in their shoes, you can identify the specific pain points or frustrations they might be facing. For example, the end user’s perspective will differ from someone responsible for signing off on the purchase decision. The user will focus on how the product can address their day-to-day challenges and facilitate their job, while the decision-maker will approach it from a different angle. You can align your approach by considering what matters to each individual within the buying committee. Craft your messaging and value proposition to address their specific concerns and objectives.
Identifying and emphasizing your buying committee’s pain points is the third consideration. During the discovery process, dig deep and truly understand their frustrations. This is not about dragging them through unnecessary difficulties, but rather empathetically highlighting the weight of their pain. By doing so, you demonstrate your commitment to addressing their specific challenges. It’s akin to adopting a therapeutic approach, albeit not as a therapist, but as a solution provider. Simply presenting something as “cool” or interesting won’t be enough to drive a purchase decision. Instead, you must highlight how your offering can solve their specific and individual problems.
It’s important to note that different individuals within the buying committee will have distinct perspectives. A CFO, for example, may not be concerned with the day-to-day tasks that someone in marketing would perform with your tool or offering. When engaging with the CFO, you need to emphasize how your solution matters from a financial standpoint, focusing on numbers and return on investment (ROI).
It’s not just about gaining the approval of the decision-maker; you must address the individual problems and priorities of each member of the buying committee. By understanding their pain points, catering to your message accordingly, and ensuring alignment with their specific objectives, you greatly increase your chances of securing their commitment and moving forward in the sales process.
The fourth point in selling to a buying group is determining the impact of their pain points and problems. It involves defining and articulating the consequences of not addressing these issues. Measuring value can be done through factors like increased revenue, decreased costs, and risk mitigation. Calculating the cost of inaction and return on investment helps highlight positive business outcomes.
During conversations, ask how not solving the individual’s issues will impact their business. This prompts them to consider the significance of resolving the problem and reveals whether it’s a priority for them. As a salesperson, you should continuously remind them of the impact and benefits they discussed throughout the sales process. By speaking their language and emphasizing how your solution aligns with their goals, you shift the focus from making a sale to making a positive change for them. Try to strike a balance between highlighting individual roles, addressing what matters to them, and showcasing the impact your solution can have.
Remember, it’s not enough for you to know the impact; they need to understand it as well. If prospects respond with enthusiasm but fail to articulate the impact or its magnitude, it’s a sign to go back and do more work. Don’t miss the opportunity to dig deeper and explore how your solution can truly make a difference for them.
When you’re a sports coach, you draw up a new game plan every week based on who you’re playing. Let’s apply that same strategy to sales in this episode of Closing Time. Thanks for tuning into Closing Time, the show for Go to Market Leaders. I’m Dave. Osborne, chief sales officer at Insightly, and I’m joined by Kim Cram, a sales consultant and coach. Welcome to the show, Kim. Thanks for having me, Dave. Now, Kim, I know you love a good sports analogy like the rest of us, so would love to discuss your experience in playing for coaches that switch things up and those who don’t. Yeah. I’ve played for a lot of coaches in my career, but two of them are those that are just complete opposite. There was one that literally didn’t matter who we played, we had the same game plan.. We had the same offense. We played man to man defense. It was one of the most frustrating years of my life and we didn’t win nearly as many games that we should have because of the talent we had. And so it was just a frustrating year. On the flip side, we had this coach that was, everything was dialed in. Every opponent that we played, we knew exactly every player, what their strengths and weaknesses were, what the team did, and we would go and execute. And we won a lot of games that we shouldn’t have. And it was just because we executed better than they did, because we just, we exploited their weaknesses. We took away their strengths and we just, we’d win games. I love that. Now, if we think about how that translates to the business world, I think something that we’re seeing a lot of is buying committees continue to change and evolve. So, I mean, not so long ago, you may see in a typical SaaS evaluation 2 to 3 stakeholders that would need to be involved. But Gartner is saying that these days we’re seeing 6 to 10 decision makers involved in SaaS deals. Obviously, CFOs are becoming more involved than ever in evaluating some of these solutions. So love to hear a little bit about how you can see that translating into these purchasing decisions. Yeah, it goes from kind of all the different stages. You’re prospecting or you are in the sales process, but understanding who they are and what matters to them is really important. Again, you go back to like kind of the game plan of, Hey,. I know these individual players, like I was a point guard and the person. I’m guarding has different strengths than the post player and being able to again, look at those and what matters to them and how they operate and how they think. So thinking about each individual role as you’re trying to get them to say yes to a meeting all the way through the process of you’re doing a demo and you’re speaking their language to them versus this is how I do it. You know, they’re going to like it or they’re not, and I’m not going to change. No, like you’re going to cater it so that you can be able to optimize and get as much as possible because you’ve done your job and you’ve executed based off of who they are and what matters to them. Right. And as you consider each member of this buying committee, we need to make sure that they to your point, we’re addressing the topics that matter. Right. So there’s probably there’s about four questions that, you know, that I’ve seen that we need to consider. Right. So the first one being who they are. Yeah. When you think about who they are, there’s a lot of things that go into it. But I kind of look at who are they? What’s their role? I mean, you talk about a CFO that’s getting involved. Well, if you have a CFO that’s involved, but actually it’s a marketing person that you’re actually selling to or they’re the user. They’re very different personalities. So thinking about what their role is and how they think and what their personality type is like, so that you can be able to make sure that your messaging is on point. Again, even from a prospecting standpoint or throughout the process, how you follow up and what you show them in a demo or how you go about the close you’re focusing in on how they think and who they are versus again, here’s how I’m going to do it and take it or leave it. I love that. So let’s continue that thought. So let’s say we’re trying to sell a marketing product, right? So there’s obviously marketing stakeholders, but there’s also the CFO involved. So we’ve identified who they are. Second, what matters to them or what are they going to be evaluating in the process? Yeah. Each of them is going to be different about how they think and like what the priorities are. You look at like a CFO and they’re looking more like, Hey well, what’s the ROI on this and is this going to make us more efficient? And, you know, all these kind of bigger picture type things. Where somebody, and maybe it’s just that you talk about marketing or whatever that role is, the user and what actually matters to them. How are they measured? What are the things that they’re trying to accomplish? So thinking about it from a standpoint of, hey, what are the things that they are going to be dealing with it that are frustrating to them and that they’re saying, Hey, these are the things that, I want a promotion and to get a promotion, I got to do my job really well. So here’s what matters to me. So the user and what they’re dealing with is going to be different than, Hey, I’m signing off on this because and they’re looking at it from a whole different a whole different perspective is what they’re going to be looking at it from. 100%. And I think the third point is kind of a continuation of that, right? So the second is what matters to them. Third is, you know, what are the the pain points and problems they’re facing? Right. And not only identifying those, but dragging them across the glass in the process through discovery. To make them really kind of add weight to their pain. No for sure, because that is the thing we’ve talked about of how you’re really going to be focusing in on them. You focus in on their pain points and their problems. And, you know, you’re almost like a therapist, not really, but you’re really focusing in on, hey, what are those pain points and what are those frustrations? And digging into those. Because if it’s just something that’s cool, they’re never going to buy. So you’re focusing in on, what can I solve? But they’re going to be different people are going to think about it differently because a CFO, they’re not necessarily looking at the day to day tasks that somebody in marketing would be doing with your tool or your offering. So you’re really focusing in on, well, what does matter to the CFO? Because they’re going to be the ones that sign off on it. You can’t just focus in on the day to day and not really highlight and focus in on here’s how this is going to matter from a number standpoint and here’s how it’s going to matter from an ROI standpoint. So you’re having to cater your message depending on who’s involved and making sure that you’re addressing all of them, because you may have the buy in from the marketing person because this solves my pain points and problems. And the CFO goes eh it’s not really going to give us the ROI, we have some other priorities and then all of a sudden you’re off the table and you’re like, what just happened? We’ve solved the problems for that marketing person, but you didn’t hit the other and next thing you know you’re off. And it’s even true on the other side. The CFO loves it and they’re like,. This is going to be huge for us. And the marketing person is like,. I don’t know. I feel like I could do it better other ways. You’re like, But I have the person that’s going to sign off because sometimes we think, Oh, if we get the person that’s going to sign off on it, if we can get them bought in, then it doesn’t matter. And it’s actually you got to have every person bought in and it solves their individual problems of what matters to them or you’re not in. Absolutely. Which is actually cascades into that fourth and final point, is we’ve nailed those pain points. We’ve drug them across the glass. But making sure that we define and articulate what is the impact of those pain points. And you can measure value a number of different ways. Right? I think most simply, it’s increasing revenue, decreasing costs, mitigating risk. Right. But I think calculating or helping derive the cost of inaction or the return on investment. Right. And what are the positive business outcomes that are going to come about by moving forward with your particular solution? Yeah, exactly that. And one of the things that I’ve seen is, you know, those moments where you you start to dig into it and they talk about the pain point and their frustration. They’re talking about it and you start to dig in a little bit and you have that aha moment from their end and we’re like, Hey, well, how does this impact if you don’t fix this? How is this going to be? And you have that moment where they pause and go, Huh, Yeah, I hadn’t thought about that. And you like, you know, you’re trying to you want to learn it, but you also want them to understand and think about it. If this is just something that would be like, yeah, that be nice. Yeah, this is frustrating and this would be convenient if you’d help me with it. But it’s not a priority. If that impact isn’t big enough, then cool isn’t going to move the needle. But you start to have that where you start to like dig in with them and they start to like and they start to have these like, yeah, and it would be able we could be able to do this and we could be able to. And they start to have their wheels turn of all the things that they can do and they can accomplish when you’re involved. And then in a sales,. I want to then bring those up. I want to speak their language all throughout the process of, hey, remember how you talked about that this was going to open these doors and it was going to have this impact, and I’m going to remind them every other second that this is about them. This isn’t about me and me just wanting to make a sale. This is about me making a change for you so that you can have these things that are going to have this impact. So it’s be able to kind of balance those things out so that you’re not just, Hey, let me sell you my product. And here it is. Hey, again, focusing in on those individual roles and what matters to them and be able to highlight those so that everybody’s thinking on the same page of this is going to solve it and it’s going to have this kind of impact and we can’t live without it. Absolutely. To hear, That’s really cool or that’s nice. In some ways I don’t want to say it’s the kiss of death, right? But I mean, that should be a flag in some degree, right? Like, we don’t want to necessarily sell a cool solution. We want to sell an impactful solution, you know, one that’s going to move the needle for them. Yeah. So I just it’s one of those kind of buzzwords that if you hear that someone on the other end saying, Wow, that’s really cool. Like, I don’t necessarily take that at face value that you’re hitting the mark. That might be something you need to think about. Yeah. Dig in deeper with it, if they do say,. Hey, that’s cool. Yeah, yeah, we get that all the time. How about for you? Like, what is the impact? So now I want to, like, turn it into and see, is there something beyond that Cool and again, get their wheels turning. It’s not good enough for just me to know. They have to know. So dig into that a little bit and so that it’s not one of those like I just had reps. They loved it.. They thought it was so cool. And I’m like, Oh boy. But like, what are we going to solve and how big is it? And they’re like, They loved it. And like, that’s a no, we got to go back. We got a lot of work ahead of us. So if you do hear that, yes, it could be the kiss of death. But dig into it. We get that all the time. Everybody loves this part.. For you, How is it solving for you and how big is that impact? So digging in a little bit versus just walking away and missing the opportunity. All right, Kim, thanks so much for those insights. Super helpful and relevant for so many different SaaS sellers out there. Thanks again for joining us on Closing. Time. It’s great being here. Thanks, Dave. All right. Remember to like this video, tick the bell to make sure you don’t miss any episodes. We’ll see you next time on Closing Time.