Diametrically Opposed Forces: Selling Value in a Buyer Controlled World

Updated: March 31, 2011

Alinean just had the pleasure of wrapping up a webinar with SiriusDecisions analyst Jim Ninivaggi, and this session contained important research and advice for developing the right B2B sales enablement strategy and tools to address key buyer changes into 2011 and beyond.

Here's our three key takeaway opportunities:
1) Buyer Facilitation versus Selling,
2) Buyers, Fueled by the Internet, Firmly in Control,
3) Most Prominent Inhibitors to Sales Achieving Quota is "Inability to Communicate Value Messages".

Buyer Facilitation versus Selling
The majority of B2B sales teams have faced an elongated sales cycle over the past few years. But the problem is not "why sales cycles are getting longer", it's why buyers are taking longer to make decisions.

However, solving this problem will be difficult for most teams, as sales remains inwardly focused on the traditional funnel based selling process, rather than having a keen understanding of how customers make decisions and actually buy - the buying lifecycle.

Understanding how to facilitate this buying lifecycle, especially how to connect and engage today's economic-focused executive, is a key to sales success, and establishes a roadmap for sales enablement.

Sales teams will need to analyze the buying cycle, understanding the key steps buyers take to make decisions, and implementing engagement methods and tools to help facilitate the process.

Buyers, Fueled by the Internet, Firmly in Control
With a wealth of information from vendors, analysts and peers, buyers are doing more research on-line. Executives and other key stakeholders are using the Internet to help them identify issues and opportunities, set goals and strategy and explore possible solutions.

At the same time, buyers are indicating that sales is often not prepared for meetings, and not adding value above and beyond what they can research on their own. As a result, sales is being invited later into the decision making process, if at all.

By not engaging early, sales is left responding to proposal requests versus helping to set strategy and recommend solutions - a sure recipe for smaller deal size and less competitive advantage. In order to succeed, sales needs to provide unique diagnostics, insight and advice to earn the right to engage with these empowered executives during critical early decision cycles.

Engaging earlier requires that sellers have the skills, processes and tools to "earn the right" to present earlier, and deliver unique value during the dialogue.

Most Prominent Inhibitors to Sales Achieving Quota is "Inability to Communicate Value Messages"
With two economic downturns in the last decade, B2B buyers have become more austere. Now over 90% of buyers are economic-focused, requiring quantifiable proof of bottom-line impact in order to prioritize, and invest in proposed solutions - a condition Alinean coined "Frugalnomics".

At the same time as economics are a prominent decision factor to customers, sales is indicating that they are having trouble communicating value messages to customers, and that, according to SiriusDecisions, this value communication inability is the number one inhibitor to achieving quota success.

These economic-buyers are significantly involved early in the buying process as the driver/catalyst for change, and again later in the buying cycle, to justify the investment and drive financial accountability. In early phases, especially in today's risk-adverse environment, it is often easier for these buyers to do nothing versus investing in a change. Therefore, sales must engage early to quantify the "cost of doing nothing" and to "make the case for change" in order to loosen the status quo.

According to SiriusDecisions, most sales are getting stuck in the last part of the buying cycle - justifying the decision & making competitive selection - the biggest cause of elongated sales cycles. Later in the sales cycle, sales needs to be able to provide a ROI business case for the particular recommended solution, as well as quantify competitive advantage, often using total cost of ownership (TCO) comparisons.

In order to fight Frugalnomics, successfully selling to these economic-buyers, requires new skills, processes, and tools.

Featured Research
  • Harnessing the Power of Speech Analytics

    The conversations between your customers and agents contain invaluable insights—if you have the right tools to easily interpret and act on this dialogue. Unfortunately, most organizations waste time manually mining only a subset of customer interaction data, or worse yet, do nothing with it at all. Speech analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for contact center leaders. It easily delivers real-time visibility into the full customer journey and agent responses, which are essential for driving higher customer satisfaction and business success. more

  • Budgeting for BI in 2018

    Is your business ready for Business Intelligence (BI) software? As BI software continues to improve, more businesses are moving to adopt BI sooner rather than later. Before you make that commitment though, it pays to figure out exactly how much money it will cost you to implement. more

  • Gartner Report: Gartner Magic Quadrant for Contact Center Infrastructure, Worldw...

    The 2017 Magic Quadrant provides Gartner’s annual analysis of the contact center infrastructure vendors. The report examines the innovations driving the market and compares vendors based on completeness of vision and ability to execute. more

  • Forrester Report: Artificial Intelligence with the Human Touch

    Artificial intelligence (AI) can’t replicate the human touch, but it can ease your agents’ burden by handling many simple, repetitive requests. A new Forrester Consulting paper offers a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both AI and humans independently, yet how blending them together can give your customers the seamless end-to-end experience they expect. more

  • eBook: Not All Cloud Contact Center Platforms Are Created Equal

    Everyone says they’re “in the cloud,” but most technology leaders would agree that not all clouds are created equal. When evaluating a cloud contact center solution for your business, it’s important to understand the difference between a true Cloud 2.0 application and traditional software, including which features to look for and why those features are important. more