Editor's note: The topic of B2B buying consensus is crucial in Sales today. Several analyst firms, including CEB, SiriusDecisions, and MHI Global, have published studies on the effect that multi-stakeholder buying groups have on B2B buying decisions. CONSENSUS™ hopes to give leading voices within our industry the opportunity to share their thoughts on this important topic. Each post explores the question: “What do you think of the research on multi-stakeholder B2B buying consensus?”
This post is from an interview with Mario Haneca, Marketing & Sales Excellence Expert at Showpad. Showpad helps align sales and marketing through a robust Sales Enablement Platform.
Scaling our sales organization is essential to sustaining our growth. One of the biggest challenges is teaching all of our sales reps how to partner with Mobilizers— active customer stakeholders—who can persuade their fellow decision makers to change the status quo.
Our biggest competitor is the status quo, i.e., customers doing the same things as they’ve been doing for the past two to three years. Reps who partner with Mobilizers from the beginning can successfully challenge the status quo.
Even when a VP of Sales or Marketing gets excited about our capabilities after seeing our first demo, if we haven’t engaged with a Mobilizer, the process can stall when it comes to setting up a second or third meeting. And these deals may stall for up to four or five months! We’re not the only ones who struggle with stalled deals. According to Corporate Visions, 60% of the opportunities salespeople put into their pipelines never close.
Our customers’ buying groups typically include a VP of Marketing, a VP of Sales and, since Showpad is a cloud-based solution, a Salesforce IT manager and a security person for single sign-on. Also, if they need to acquire tablets, IT, and hardware procurement will get involved -- not to mention legal (for privacy issues), and compliance officers. So the 5.4 number that CEB has published is not exaggerated. Before a customer signs a purchase order, their buying group can easily involve six or more people.
Another factor that contributes to stalled deals comes from the disappointing experiences prospects have had in the past with failed implementations: they can become risk averse to buying and implementing a new sales enablement solution. Also, IT is much more in the driver seat today than they were in the past, due to privacy and security issues.
Compelling events help to create momentum for customers to move quickly. For some of our customers, a compelling event could be a bad experience they’ve had with a failed Wi-Fi connection while trying to do demos for prospects at a trade show. In the medical sector, regulatory issues can create compelling events: medical device companies can’t risk sending out outdated procedures to a surgeon who could be doing the wrong thing in the field based on the antiquated information. Also, if our prospects sense that their competitors are adopting our solution, that can create a compelling event as well.
Capitalizing on these types of compelling events requires that you have the kind of content that engages Mobilizers out in the digital marketplace -- before they’ve finalized their supplier selection criteria. We teach our sales and marketing leaders to take an integrated approach that includes three key elements:
- Understand the buying process.
- Build Commercial Insights into your content for the buying journey.
- Teach Mobilizers about your type of solution can help them change the status quo.
Very few companies have integrated these three things. Commercial Insights connect the value of your solution to the customer’s higher-order business drivers. It’s critical to make this connection early in the buying process while there’s still time to shape the customer’s buying criteria. The type of collateral that marketers typically create tends to work well in the later stages of the funnel, but it’s not valid for initial buying consensus discussions. You’ve got to help Mobilizers understand how your type of solution can help them change the status quo. Salespeople also need access to more visual storytelling materials, including video.
It’s a combination of technologies and processes that begin with understanding what you’re missing before you can select the right tools. Personally, I feel that, on the technology side, CONSENSUS could be a part of the solution because it automatically personalizes your value proposition to the unique needs of each buyer. CONSENSUS and Showpad would be a potent combination with CONSENSUS helping to drive the buying consensus conversation early in the sales process and Showpad coming into play later in the funnel.
We appreciate Mario sharing his thoughts with us on buying consensus. Key takeaways from our conversation include the following:
- Teaching sales reps how to partner with Mobilizers is critical for scaling growth.
- The status quo is your biggest competitor.
- Compelling events create openings for building momentum if you have Mobilizer-friendly content.
- Success requires that you combine the right technologies with the right processes.
To learn more about Showpad click here. And click Watch Demo below to see how CONSENSUS can help drive buying consensus by automating custom demo videos.