why buy, why you, and why now
although the enterprise sales process has many steps and stages, it ultimately has to answer three questions for the customer. check out this “From Impossible” excerpt to see:
3 Things Every Enterprise Customer Wants To Know
#1: “Why should I do anything?” The easiest way to help a potential customer answer this question is to identify their important initiatives. Every large company has strategic business initiatives that are always going to be funded and that are driving IT investments. Once the sales and marketing teams have uncovered these, they can begin to define the unique value proposition.
The key here is to seek first to understand and then second to be understood. Listen first, sell second. The problem with telling a potential customer what you think they need before you understand what they think they need is that:
- You’re basing your position on a known set of requirements from a broad base of companies instead of unknown specific opportunities.
- It positions you as more of a commodity play or just a vendor – as opposed to a partner who can help transform the way they conduct their business.
#2: “Why your solution vs. your competitors’?” No one knows more about your solution than you do, so you should be consulting with your target customer to craft what success looks like. By doing this, you’re more likely to win the criteria-setting battle, because you’re essentially pre-positioning and differentiating your enterprise/SaaS product over that of your competitors.
This helps block the competition, as you’re helping the prospect learn to see the world, and success, through your lens. The sales team’s job here is to help a potential customer define success in three distinct buckets:
1.) business criteria
2.) architecture/scale criteria; and
3.) feature and functional criteria
This is also the best time to prepare messaging, metrics, and marketing to address three audiences:
1.) enterprise-level (C-suite, senior vice presidents)
2.) workgroup-level (VPs, directors, managers);
3.) user-level (groups of individual contributors and their direct managers)
Since most companies spend most their messaging effort on the level 1 or 3 audiences, forcing your company to constantly see its prospects and customers through this three-level lens affects your win/loss ratio. At this point of the sales cycle, there are many tasks that have to be guided by the project owner – usually the salesperson.
This is where they show their value: by coordinating the right resource, action, or message – at the right level and at the right time – to determine success or failure. The best enterprise salespeople are coaches or entrepreneurs, ensuring all the audiences at a prospect are receiving what they need, that resources are rallied from your company, stumbling blocks are uncovered and avoided, and surprises are eliminated.
Your biggest competition isn’t just other startups, perpetually licensed on-premise packages, home-grown solutions, or incumbent vendors. It’s inertia. It takes a lot for a Big Company to decide and successfully implement a new solution. Enterprise salespeople often can’t achieve that big account escape velocity, and lose to Do Nothing and No Decision more often than to any other competitor.
#3: “Why now vs. investing in another area of our business?” Now you have to turn the value proposition into a quantifiable business case. This kind of “ROI diagnostic” as a selling tool gives you three advantages:
- It aligns and maps your product’s capabilities, operational benefits, and financial value with the company’s key strategic initiative to help your enterprise-wide proposal compete for capital with all the other proposed initiatives, programs, and projects.
- It improves visibility into the current operations environment, by providing a snapshot of operational inefficiencies and challenges.
- It helps insulate you from pricing pressure and ensures that the plan for implementing your solution delivers on the most important business objectives first, which ensures a shorter time to value.
If landing bigger customers is new to your business, you’ll have to staff up with more customer-facing resources than you expected or wanted — professional services, customer support, etc. Investing in these kinds of roles and people pays off in securing and expanding these customers – and in getting the best marketing resource there is: happy customer references.
Don’t obsess so much on getting new customers that you forget to invest in current ones. This includes turning them into unassailable external references and advocates. Because good products – and even many great ones – don’t sell themselves. You need champions who will help sell them for you.