Business as UNusual: Strategic Account Based Selling Tips for 2020
When was the last time any of you had a normal sale? I imagine that for many of you the answer is pre-March 2020. Hitting sales targets is never easy – but it has been even more challenging in 2020.
Like most other organizations in the business world, I imagine you didn’t have a “Pandemic Sales Playbook” kept in a secret vault or behind breakable glass waiting to be consulted during a global pandemic. The reality is: you are consistently updating and optimizing your sales playbooks to reflect the new market. If you aren’t - now’s the time to start.
My hope here is to give you some insight into what we’ve learned at Flawless Inbound during this precarious time and dive into elements of our own, recently overhauled playbook.
1. Be Selective with Your Prospect
Going to market with the psychology that anyone and everyone can be your customer is asinine. It was before COVID-19, and is even more so today. Now more than ever, you need to develop an ideal customer profile.
In 2018, we've adapted a simple but memorable acronym to help our Sales Team categorise prospects more strategically and serve as the framework for our ideal customer profile: BANT. Here's what it means:
B – Budget: Can the prospect afford Flawless Inbound?
A – Authority: Is the prospect a decision maker in their organization?
N – Need: Does the prospect need our solution or can they maintain the status quo?
T – Time: Is the timing right? Is the prospect organized from an implementation and budget perspective?
In 2020, we made an internal addition to this acronym: now it’s BANTC. While it’s no longer as reader friendly, the new “C” stands for the most important addition to our prospecting framework: Change.
C – Change: Is the customer willing and able to change so they can implement our proposed solution?
This is an important consideration with any strategic B2B sale – if the prospect is showing hesitation or averseness to new ideas, chances are you will lose the sale (I will elaborate on this later on).
The takeaway here is not the acronym, but the notion that your ideal customer profile is always evolving – and that you shouldn't be afraid of letting go of a prospect if they're not ready.
2. Beware of The Status Quo
Last Thursday, I attended a TEC Canada sales seminar led by Adrian Davis – a sales expert who has over 30 years of experience selling to enterprise accounts and helping CEOs with the execution of their own sales programs.
There was one takeaway that stuck more than anything else during Adrian’s presentation: many sales opportunities are not lost to a competitor but rather to a lack of decision making. The culprit behind it all is the status quo.
Whilst sales people nowadays are armed with abundant content, sales enablement tools, and competitor analysis, they often fail to realize that the status quo is their biggest competitor. Think about it for a moment: before you even have an opportunity to sell your solution, the status quo has already won your prospect over; the status quo has won them over for several years because it is easier to remain the same than to make a change.
In the B2B world, a prospect goes through three distinct states when faced with making a change: current state, transition state, and future state. The transition state is the warzone where salespeople compete and articulate the value their unique solution brings to the prospect.
In addition to competing against each other, salespeople also compete against the status quo which magnifies the true cost of change because it comes with a number of additional factors such as cost, time, risk, and disruption.
When faced with a business ultimatum, decision makers often resort to what is familiar to them, avoiding the unfamiliar and the aforementioned variables associated with change.
So what’s the key to beating the status quo? There’s no perfect answer. Firstly, you have to create awareness at the user and decision-making levels. Without support at different levels of the organization, your proposed solution will be dead on arrival.
Secondly, address apprehension the moment it arises. If your prospect’s doubt continues to escalate, they will choose to remain in the status quo. As soon as apprehension arises, ask your prospect “what are your alternatives?” Use silence to incite a response from your prospect. Give them the time they need to give a thorough and insightful response. Be an active listener here because whatever reaction your prospect gives you will serve as a basis for your solution.
If you can’t kill the status quo, you will never win at solution selling.
3. Leverage Account Based Marketing
Account Based Marketing (ABM) has been a rock star in 2020 as it’s an accumulation of prevailing sales and marketing best practices that are disrupting tried and true sales traditions.
Before digging deeper, it’s important to explain what ABM is: Account Based Marketing is a collaborative effort between sales and marketing departments to target and close handpicked “holy grail” accounts and their respective decision makers or influencers using hyper-personalized campaigns.
Oftentimes, ABM is referred to as a “flip your funnel” approach as you start at the top with identifying the decision makers and then deepen your relationship within the organization over various channels. The key to winning these accounts is to build advocacy within them.
At the execution level, ABM requires pillar pages, cluster topics, and industry case studies to connect your solution’s value to the decision maker’s specific pain points. When done successfully, this process can be replicated for similar organizations within the same industry.
Once your marketing department has done their part in attracting a handpicked client through masterful ABM, your sales team takes on the role of informative consultants when selling solutions to this account as they have the benefit of knowing what content connected with the decision maker they are targeting.
So why does it work so well? To put it simply, B2B decision makers like to buy from people and organizations they trust. Achieving trust requires several foundational pillars such as thought leadership, social proof, and exceptional customer relationship management to be built effectively.
Once you have figured out the right ABM strategy for your organization, the sales floodgates will open.
Food for Thought
At Flawless Inbound, we are always optimizing the way we sell – the market demands this. With new generations of young adults playing an active role in decision making processes, there may come a time where elements of this blog become obsolete - and that is perfectly normal. They key is to stay ahead of the curve whenever you can!
If you enjoyed reading this, I encourage you to sign up for our July 2020 workshop where we will expand upon these topics and go deeper into how sales and marketing alignment is the key to B2B success!
PS: And after that, there will always be more new workshops that adapt to current market needs. Stay tuned!