Another fantastic panel discussion at the SalesHacker conference 2017, this time involving 3 sales leaders in the IT Services/Software space discussing how they approach enterprise deals in 2017. Namely, Rita Mokbel (Global Head of Sales, Ericsson), Lacey Bell (AVP of Sales, Adobe) and Jesse Cournoyer (Sales Leader, Vidyard).
Jesse kicked things off by suggesting that the first part is a mindset switch from selling to SME's to focusing on large B2B corporations. You move from a quick, transactional sales to longer, more relationship-based selling which takes a structured, well-considered approach. This was broken down into 3 parts which I have done my best to summarise below:
- Don't just go for the logo: make sure there are 3 to 4 use cases per account, so that if one falls through, you have back-up arguments & a strong reason to partner with that organisation.
- For Rita, the key was planning for your outbound prospecting:
- Know what the company needs, their current strategies, their priorities etc.
- What stage of the buying journey are they at already?
- How do we differentiate ourselves from our competitors?
- Position yourself as a subject-matter expert and someone who understands the needs of a potential customer and has a way to solve them. The organisation you are targeting will have a budget they need to spend - they want to spend it with the right person. You should be aiming for expert-to-expert communication.
#2 The meeting:
- Do your homework: Lacey Bell made the point that you need to show your knowledge to the company you're dealing with. For example, using tools like Ghostery, Sales Navigator or Built With to work out what tools the organisation and how your own solution could fit in. Equally, demonstrating your knowledge establishes your own credentials from the outset.
- Be clear on the outcomes: What do we want to get out of this meeting?
- Understand the customers' goals as well as your own: you may want a signed order form whereas they may only want to shake hands and start to build a rapport.
- Be prepared for every situation: it can go well, go ok and go badly. How do you react and how do you lead the discussion?
- A very useful tip from Rita was also, you need to be aware that not every person on the client side will be at the same stage of the customer journey. You need to account for this.
- Spending time with the right people: be clear on who are the business decision-makers. One technique is to map our the target and everyone who is involved. Doing this in a team environment can reveal some big differences in opinion which are vital to understanding the inner workings of your client.
#3 The tricky bits inbetween:
It's the bits in between meetings which are especially tricky to handle in enterprise sales. Bearing in mind that some sales cycles might last for as long as two years, it is important that you the salesperson achieve a number of important things.
1. Expand the conversation: You need more than one champion, with Gartner citing 6.8 key influencers in every business decision, if you have only one real advocate, you are at risk. If you haven't spoken to them already, don't be afraid to reach out. To this aim, Lacey suggested on getting creative with the different ways you can get in touch with people, sharing insights with them etc. View their profile on LinkedIn, connect with them, send them a relevant piece of content, 'bump into them' at an event etc.
2. Sticking to a plan: Jesse advocates working backwards from when you want to close everything off and launch with the client. Set out a timesheet with key dates, objectives and things to be achieved with buffer times in between each key date. Lacey went one step further and suggested that embedding a time sheet into each and every email so that both sides are up-to-date.
3. Understanding their aims, not just yours: Rita Mokbel made the point that the key is to understand what everyone wants to get out of the deal, both at a business and personal level. Furthermore, she wisely stressed that the buyer journey is not linear and that each key stakeholder & business decision-maker will probably be at a different point on this journey. Accounting for this & acting in the right manner is crucial.
4. Trusted partner vs. a salesperson: To achieve your goals, you need to be a trusted partner working to solve the client's problems, not a salesperson.
As they all stressed, enterprise sales is a long and difficult process but by having a strong team with a flexible but trustworthy process, it becomes a whole lot easier.