When CEB reported that 57% of the buyer’s journey was happening without the engagement of sales, it led to the mistaken assumption that sales had no role in the early part of the buying decision. Similarly, when SiriusDecisions reported that 67% of the buyer’s decision-making journey happens digitally, once again the assumption was that sales had no role in the process. Yes, buyers do leverage online tools to do their early stage due diligence and research when they believe they have a business problem that needs addressing. How that became translated into buyers never talk to sellers at that stage is interesting.
I never viewed either of these statistics as something to be afraid of, instead, I saw it as an opportunity for salespeople to find ways to be out in plain sight when buyers were in that early education and research phase. How to engage buyers online whether through content or direct interaction has been the subject of many of my blog posts and that of many others in the sales profession. When it comes to improving sales pipeline or what to do to move deals along to close, what isn’t talked about enough is that your most challenging competitor is the status quo.
Planning for status quo.
Status quo is Latin for existing state. Typically when buyers decide to maintain the status quo, they are often resistant to the risk associated with doing something differently than they do today. If your deals are stalling out because buyers do nothing and stick with the status quo, one reason this is happening is that the risk they associate with making a major change to a new solution was not mitigated. That’s where you have an opportunity to help them. If the perceived risk of making a change is greater than staying with what they’ve got, you won’t close the business. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you will help buyers assuage their fears with data to back you up, which then positions you more strongly for moving a sales opportunity along to close.
Let’s talk about ROI.
A key theme that emerged from Demand Gen’s 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey Report was the subject of ROI. That’s an important hurdle that salespeople have to help buyers get over. Overwhelmingly respondents said they are feeling the pressure of financial scrutiny from corporate. And when asked how their purchase process had changed over the past year, the survey revealed that 61% said they “conduct a more detailed ROI analysis before making a final decision.” Now that company leadership has increased scrutiny on the financial side to justify purchase decisions; it is easy to see why buyers proceed with caution.
More decision makers also increase the odds of status quo winning.
Another contributing factor to overcoming status quo is the number of decision makers now involved in buying decisions. This new reality is especially true if you are selling into a complex B2B environment. CEB has said their research indicates that 6.8 people are involved in the decision-making process these days. I would say that those numbers are conservative because there are far more people inside an organization who have influence into the ultimate decision than you may realize. The stakeholders involved in these buying decisions are in a variety of roles, work in multiple geographies or regions, each with a unique perspective on the challenges and pains that a particular business problem may be causing. They also have their unique opinion on what will be the right solution to correct the situation.
There is good news.
The challenges of beating your toughest competitor in any deal situation – status quo – provides an opportunity for salespeople who understand this challenge and plan for ways to overcome it.
In Demand Gen’s Report, there were four top reasons why buyers ultimately choose a winning vendor. They are:
98% – Timeliness of a vendor’s response to inquiries
97% – Demonstrated a stronger knowledge of the solution area and business landscape
94% – Demonstrated a stronger knowledge of our company and its needs
90% – Provided content that made it easier to show ROI and build a business case for purchase
Notice that these buyers didn’t say, we choose a winning vendor because of their product pitch! The salespeople who “ditch the pitch” and focus on demonstrating their consultative business value to buyers have a greater shot at kicking status quo out the door to win deals more often.