I have read a number of business books over the years as a B2B sales executive. A small few were inspiring… some read like I was doing everything wrong… and most were the same message presented in a different format… but nothing provided me the insight I gleamed from sitting on the other side of the desk.
The person you are pitching has heard it all. Your service is best in its class. Your product is cutting edge and intellectually innovative. Your new software will save the company so much money it will pay for itself in a year. And I am telling you that not one of these value propositions can get you into position to close a deal with the ultimate decision maker without meeting these 3 Critical Requirements:
Does the company need what you are selling? It seems so simple that it is surprising more salespeople do not figure this out before trying to schedule a meeting. Instead, they seem to fall in love with the prospect of pitching the company (or the brand), and expect the prospect will love them back once they shoulder the burden of mutual discovery.
Hint – if you want anybody at the C-Level to spend a moment of their time answering your cut and bleed questions, do some homework to understand their needs, their current strengths and weaknesses, and their competitive agenda.
Maybe the company does need your solution to ease their pain, but old pain becomes dull to stakeholders (shareholders, employees, customers) and so will the ointment you are selling if it is irrelevant.
Solving today’s market problems, or even better is something relevant to growing their business tomorrow, is how you will attract attention. And if your business addresses the most pressing issue at the C-Level, back it up with your bullet point value presentation and make it easy to connect the dots.
Hint – do not pitch a tomorrow solution to close a deal today. Bleeding edge solutions demonstrate foresight, but can stumble here because it is not relevant this fiscal quarter, or the other requirements to pass GO.
Sometimes the company has a relevant need, but buying your solution is not a priority. Yes, your software could streamline distribution channels. Unfortunately, our top priorities are downsizing, acquiring a competitor, and moving offshore production to India.
Your role as a sales professional is insisting that your business solution is priority one, but you may have to talk to a number of contacts at every level to understand the bigger picture, affordable pricing and the current decision landscape. But if the deal is large enough, then meeting the other two requirements puts the opportunity at the top of your pipeline.
Hint – the balance sheet never lies, and there are a number of resources that can show you the financial health of the most qualified prospect. If they are a public company, the annual report is readily accessible. And most companies will tell you exactly what their priorities are if you can read between the lines.
Don’t think… KNOW
Due diligence is the difference maker. And there is a distinct difference between pitching a company what you think, and what you know.
Any deal worth winning requires a pitch strategy, and selling at the top in B2B sales is not a numbers game. Compete on what you are capable of delivering tomorrow and play to your strengths. As a smaller player you can be nimble and innovative. As part of a larger firm, you can dazzle the team with your sales approach strategy to the company that should already know about your business—but not how you intend to deliver unique value specific to their requirements.
This applies to writing or refining your business plan too. Pipeline forecasts look good on the conference room wall, but if your business does not satisfy NEED + RELEVANCE + PRIORITY requirements in your customer community, then you might want to spend some time and energy figuring out how to arrive at this crossroad and influence more buying decisions.