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what matters to buyers
16 April 2015

What Matters to Buyers? Be an Expert in Customer Currency

In the last post, we talked about how to make your sales presentations better – improving the focus of the content and delivery. This week, using more examples from our clients, we present a more specific context of your proposals – a mistake that’s made quite often when we listen to sales pitches which is The Seller Is Not Speaking In The Customer Currency.

Each buyer and member of the buying committee {both formal and informal} has their own currency – problems and outcomes of our solution that are valuable to them. With buyers performing more independent research to source solutions to problems, they are forming larger internal buying committees – sourcing experiences and opinions before they reach out to sellers for their insights, pricing or proposals.

 

The mistake we see on many pitches and proposal is that sellers are not addressing their solution in the context of each buyers’ role. The Value Currency of each level in an organization is different. Many sales people think they are customizing their presentations by changing the names on the front page but true customization is presenting your solution to each buyer in terms of how it impacts their responsibilities and performance – their Positive Business Outcomes {PBO’s}. If you are skillful enough to get an audience with the CEO, chances are you’ll still have to sell your solution down at the user level and vice versa, using the PBO’s that matter to each and the appropriate metrics, data and insights. Speaking to each individual buyers’ outcomes, experiences, and risk unlocks their “Value Vault” so you can get to the REAL issues at stake for them. If you only have one contact, one connection that you’re selling to in a prospective company, you’re missing an opportunity to build tremendous consensus, advocacy and sponsorship. Being “single threaded” with only one contact is a tenuous position – increasing the chances you’ll be out sold by someone who aligns all the decision making committee with their solution.

Here’s a brief guide to speaking to the Value Currency of each potential member of the Buying Committee:

What matters to the CEO or Board President?

At this level, it’s all about total performance and accountability. CEO’s are responsible to the Board of Directors and to shareholders/stakeholders. They are hired to increase performance and thus, profitability. They care about the economy, tax incentives, green initiatives, the industry, market share, innovation, competitive advantage and market trends. They are big picture focused and many times deal with quickly shifting priorities. Showing up and presenting your suite of capabilities and how your fancy user dashboard shows you accuracy down to a single penny spent doesn’t mean much to them when they are faced with cutting $2M of expense, closing 10 locations or expanding in to 5 global markets. Think, speak and act in top level priorities instead of front line execution. How does your value proposition fit in to their big picture?

What matters to VP’s and Directors?

Where as the CEO is responsible for the entire ship, VP’s and Directors own a specific business segment. Their divisions have set budgets and purchasing decisions are considered against those budgets as to how the solution will improve productivity and what reporting and KPI’s are present to judge performance. VP’s and Directors are also keenly in tune with their competitors and want to know how solutions will enhance market position or increase their competitive advantages. How does your solution uniquely give them the edge?

What matters to Managers and Users?

At this level, your capabilities and technical features need to be at the granular level for the buyer. Performance, compatibility, interruptions and down time are all of great concern to them as they are the “legs” of an organization and cannot afford to hinder or detract from the performance. At this level, CHANGE is quite often a major objection as the Managers and Users are responsible for the hands on implementation of those changes and a bad decision here could quickly cost them their job. Other considerations for purchasing are quality of work life, their customer experience and customer service and support. How does your solution limit their perception of risk and how will you manage the change?

What matters to the Administration?

Don’t forget that there is an influencer in the buying committee that Sales rarely ever speaks to but can potential sink a deal: The Administrators – mainly accounting and purchasing. Due diligence for your solution might include selling your administrative buyers. They care that your PO’s are issued so they fit their systems and that their accounts payable is streamlined and compatible – both so there’s not extra burden on them, but also that they are not tied up with missing PO’s, late notices, invoice messes and other nuisances that keep their “machine” from operating efficiently. Customer service and experience are also keenly important to this stakeholder. How will you demonstrate your compatibility and support?

What matters to the Business Owner?

All of it – depending on the size and scale of the business. Small business owners may be wearing all the hats, juggling all the roles and want to know the big picture to granular details of your offering. There are usually internal stake holders and influencers that hold some of the positions above but to truly understand what’s important to their decision making process here, don’t assume, ASK and respond, plan and present accordingly. How are you addressing the concerns of the hectic business owner?

Think about who and what matters when you’re selling and speak to the risks and rewards of each influencer. What is the currency they value? That’s much more intensive than simply changing the name or swapping slides in your presentation. Being extraordinary at selling really takes a lot of effort. The more complex a product, idea or opportunity, the more insight, empathy and leadership is required from the Sales Professional. With modern buyers, closing sales looks less like the winner-take-all arm wrestling matches of long ago and more like conducting a symphony where every one wins and makes beautiful music together.

Until next time, keep kickin’ butt!

-sks