Why your B2B sales enablement efforts aren’t working
Published on September 15, 2023
It’s no secret that B2B selling is more complex than it’s ever been. It’s less predictable because more buyers are involved in the process. In fact, recently LinkedIn reported that approximately every 6 individuals are involved in the average B2B sale. And in the technology sector, buying teams can be even bigger, averaging 14 to 23 participants. To exacerbate the situation, these buyers are further along in their purchase journeys and only seek the help of sales when they are finally ready to decide.
Recent research by CSO Insights showed that 70% of buyers define their needs on their own before they engage a sales representative. Additionally, 44% identify specific solutions before reaching out to a seller. By the time your sales rep finally gets a meeting, they’re going to face a very well-educated buyer – one who likely knows more than the seller about the solutions they’ve considered.
Stories drive decision-making in B2B selling
It has been proven that stories help persuade others. Because stories are received at one time, as opposed to in chunks, listeners are less likely to come up with counterarguments. So, instead of using a canned overview presentation loaded with bits of information, sellers should be prepared to share stories that focus on a customer’s specific challenges, questions, and concerns so a buying decision can be made.
Imagine a seller walking into a client’s office with a presentation already built that preemptively addresses the buyer’s objections or opportunities before they even needed to voice them. Better still, the seller would have a handful of relevant stories to tell about how other customers have overcome similar challenges or seized the same kinds of opportunities. It’d be nirvana if a sales presentation was built to remedy and satisfy a buyer’s pressing concerns at this precise moment so they can move towards a decision.
Now, you may be saying, “But how is that possible? That still means building custom content.” Yes and no. It’s difficult for content creators in product marketing and sales enablement to develop a unique presentation for every sales conversation. You’ve got limited resources. But what if you could give your sales force presentations that are 80–90% closer to the dynamics they find themselves in? That’d be a big win.
Structure a SalesStory™ around preemptive response handling
What is a SalesStory™? It’s a story you craft that addresses the barriers to decision-making. It can be customized to a particular role or title in a particular industry, with specific buying situations based on the nature of the relationship you have (think existing customer vs. brand-new prospect). You should build out your SalesStory™ using the most common sales arguments to help those that match this “sales situation” towards a decision.
To do that, go “objection harvesting.” Here are six tips for flipping the script and building your SalesStory™ so you can address a client’s objections and opportunities before they need to voice them.
1. Live and breathe the CO2 Model™ and consider objections and opportunities
The CO2 Model means “Consider Objections and Opportunities” and helps one explore the resistance-based and outcome-based thinking each person in a Buying Center might have. This approach lets you get inside the minds of your typical customers and their situations, and explore what sales arguments your sellers will need to win to help move the deal forward.
First, identify a topic you believe reflects a key consideration for your sales situation, list out the different roles that might be part of the Buying Center or decision process, and let the brainstorming begin.
Brainstorm every possible objection and opportunity that you expect this customer type to have based on their combination of criteria. Use the CO2 Model to consider any significant objections and opportunities related to:
- Your brand
- Your solutions
- Your approach
- Peer and expert opinions
- Their own previous experience, etc.
Remember, gather as many unique objections and opportunities as possible that might arise during the sales conversation. Make them as specific as you can to the profile.
2. Rank the objections and opportunities
Once you’ve come up with all the objections and opportunities relevant to a profile, rank them in order of critical relevance and/or impact for the deal to advance. Use your best judgment. If you’re co-creating this content with the support of salespeople, you get to tap into their experience or search for deal data that identifies the reason for lost opportunities to help.
3. Look for additional themes
After ranking, set your top five objections or opportunities aside on your whiteboard or sticky note wall. Look at what’s left to see if any other common themes emerge that are worthy of a response. If not, save these, as they may be useful downstream in the process.
4. Formulate your responses
Now it’s time to create your responses, which is the toughest part but worth the effort. You must arm your reps with strong replies to your customers’ toughest concerns. Start by crafting responses to the top five concerns you receive.
Make sure your responses matter using the MTR Approach™:
- Mention the core concern of the objection or outcome of the opportunity.
- Target your message so it clearly establishes the nature of your response and directly addresses it.
- Reaffirm your target message with proof, like 3rd party evidence, customer stories, or other data your team has gathered. Tell a story with the data so they see the impact.
5. Explore more reactions triggered by your responses
Don’t assume you’re done when you have a handful of perfectly constructed responses. You should assume buyers will have additional follow-up commentary based on your initial response. Buyers are likely to ask, “But what about … ?”
Objections are a lot like Russian nesting dolls — when you open one up, you find another inside, and another, and another, and so on. So, even though you’ve just laid out a well-evidenced response, you should assume your prospect buyer may disagree with what you’ve laid out. Remember, buyers are knowledgeable professionals in their fields. They’ve done their homework before they let your salespeople sit down with them.
Think about how this customer type might challenge what you’ve shared. Capture that and prepare a response to it. Then, do it again — imagine how they might resist, and craft another response for that objection or opportunity. It’s probably safe to assume a customer might have up to three or four follow-up issues you’ll need to respond to.
6. Build your SalesStory™ around this core content
Once you’ve completed steps one through five for your top five objections, scoop up the content you’ve now generated for each objection, and use your responses as the basis for your sales presentation. Remember, your buyers are ~70% into their buying journey.
You’re there to help them decide. So, why not build the meat of your presentation around the content that should address their burning concerns? You don’t have to set it up as, “You’re probably going to object to our XYZ feature, so … ” but you can reverse engineer it and make a section of your SalesStory™ focused on the topic of the objection. When you leverage the story principles in Resonate®, you can serve your best sales arguments in a way that makes your prospect the hero when they choose you.
Put the canned B2B sales deck back on the shelf
Imagine a sales presentation that your buyers actually like. It’s because it’s based on the information they’re seeking. Leave the canned presentations to your competitors. Remember, selling to a single B2B buyer is no longer the norm.
Your B2B sales enablement presentation will need to address the concerns of different roles and personas around the table. Give each person the insights they crave to make a collective choice. Lean into buyers’ concerns to serve them the content they need at this moment to remove the barriers that keep them from deciding. Bring a sales story to your customers that overcomes objections and sets up the opportunities they’ll experience once transformed when they buy from you.
Whether you want to train your whole sales enablement team, or you want a premiere presentation design agency to reimagine your core pitch deck – you know, you’re bread and butter, reach out to today to see how Duarte can help. We’ve helped the top performing brands in the world nail their high-stakes product launches, to transforming their assets that directly led to 3x their revenue in a matter of months.
Delivery, Presenting, Sales and marketing