14 February 2023 |

Thriving through an uncertain economy.

By Alex Alleyne

The Current State.

Inflation is rising, global market growth is slowing down and buyer sensitivity is at an all-time high.

For our sales teams, this poses a major hurdle to overcome regarding how we engage with our customers.

The main trends I am seeing in the market are longer sales cycles and heightened scrutiny on every purchase.

This means that the need to drive a compelling return on investment for a customer is more important than ever before. Below I expand on a few strategies to keep in mind.

The “ROI calculator” is your friend

We have all had a “bluebird” deal close throughout our career. A deal that lands on our lap, we haven’t had to execute our sales process effectively and somehow we find a way to get the deal over the line.

Those days are long behind all of us, with CFO’s now scrutinising every decimal point on their P&L.

This means that no matter what product, service or solution you’re selling, it is critical that your team takes the time to build an ROI case.

This starts by working with an identified customer champion, to gather key data and metrics, to help you to understand their current state, compared to the quantifiable difference your offering will make for them.

Ensuring the impact is measurable and quantifiable is critical, as this is all a CFO ultimately cares about.

Recently, I have seen a rise in the role of the Value Engineer within SaaS companies. This is a relatively new role who dedicate their entire 9 – 5 to building out ROI cases alongside customers.

A business case can only be built with strong customer input, not alone. Therefore a staple part of a Value Engineers’ role is to spend time in the field with customers. 

Make sure your field teams are out, in-front of customers, deep diving their current state to then be able to lead with a compelling ROI case for their customers’ future state.

In the absence of having a value engineering team, your sellers need to become their own value engineers throughout time and proximity with customers.

You can’t BS your way through knowing the product

Through these challenging economic times, we need to set a higher bar of sales excellence. A key component is to ensure your teams know and understand your solution like no other.

A team that understands how your solutions’ capabilities map to measurable business impact equates to a deal-winning formula each and every time.

Going through your company’s standard onboarding process is not enough; that’s simply the foundation.

Anytime I start in a new role, one of my first missions is to seek out my most accomplished technical colleague and to find 30 minutes with them per week, for the first 4 – 6 weeks in my role.

The logic isn’t to become a master of the solution overnight, but to ensure I am clear and competent with the unique differentiation of my offering.

Your teams should be committed to evolving their product knowledge daily. The closer they get towards mastery of your offering drives increased customer trust during uncertain times.

Customers are becoming more thoughtful about how solutions can help them to drive more revenue, de-risk their organisation or drive increased efficiency.

Through heightened knowledge of your offering, you are then able to match capabilities to the outcomes that truly matter for your customers.

Ultimately, it’s about doubling down on conviction

When your teams know and understand your solution, it inherently breeds conviction. 

Conviction then drives increased customer trust and confidence which ultimately creates an incredibly impactful feedback loop.

Buyers are apprehensive about committing to any purchase. Our role is to instill belief in their decision-making through the depth of our knowledge combined with conviction in our vision.

You can have the best service offering in the world but if you aren’t able to articulate the impact effectively to a customer, then having a great solution becomes meaningless.

One way I have gone about driving increased conviction throughout my teams is through role plays.

Getting each seller to spend time working through each part of the sales cycle within a controlled environment, where a colleague plays the role of customer and another as an evaluator.

Part of the grading criteria is based on conviction and the seller’s ability to build a bridge of trust with their customer through their competence during the role play.

If you find that your sales team is selling scared during this economic climate, commit them to a series of role plays to help them move past this blocker.

Remember that driving conviction within your team starts with you. If reading On Target helps you to do that even 1% more effectively, then I have served my purpose here.