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March 3, 2022Blog

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Simplifying Selling with the 4 Drivers

Sellers have never been more in need of simplicity because they are equipped with an endless array of tools. While some of these tools offer value many just make seller feel busy. This sense of feeling busy is easily mistaken for productivity.

The Four Drivers overcome this problem by isolating the key accomplishments – in the order they must be reached – needed to win the sale.

These four elements dramatically simplify selling by defining the specific actions deserving of the seller’s focus. What makes these drivers so effective is that they pinpoint the goals that should be central to the seller’s thinking during each client interaction.

This clarity is important because the customer is more difficult to reach than ever. Their time is limited. Their attention is divided. The specificity of the Four Drivers equips sellers with the confidence and preparation needed to yield the full value from customer conversations that are so difficult to earn. As a result, each interaction advances the sale.

Here, we take a close look at each of these four parts. We explain what they mean, how they work, and how to accomplish each.

1. Direct the Vision

Directing the vision means helping the customers gain clarity on their challenges. In doing so, the sales professional has a valuable opportunity to shape the customer’s thinking.

Directing the vision is the seller’s first and best chance to become a guiding voice for the customer. This trait has never been more important because customers are increasingly in need of direction. This idea is counterintuitive. The customer has access to a wealth of accurate information. With so many resources at hand, what is the need for a guide?

The need is this: volumes of information demand a lot of interpretation. An effective seller can parse out what is cogent and what is not. They can determine what is relevant. They isolate the findings that matter. These capabilities encourage the buyers to become more resolute and confident in their advancement towards a purchase.

This approach is not without challenges. Cognitive dissonance shows that we are prone to discount, dismiss, or oppose information that is new, or conflicts with our beliefs because it creates emotional discomfort. That is why it is so important for sales professionals to build a consultative relationship that builds the customer’s trust in the seller’s ability to distill meaning from information.

Directing the Vision requires the seller to diagnose the customer’s pain, link the key players, align on a vision, and confirm the value of the solution.

To properly diagnose pain the seller must be clear on the customer’s business strategy, core pain, and the underlying reasons for that pain. Linking the key players means understanding each stakeholder’s personal needs and any others impacted in the organization. Aligning on vision requires knowing the capabilities needed to reduce the pain. Finally, confirming value is the process of summarizing the value of the solution and checking for alignment.

In total, these steps bring clarity to the stakeholders and center them around a clear conception of the business need. Doing so is a high-stakes endeavor because it is not possible to pursue the remaining three drivers without getting this first one right. Additionally, this is the earliest stage of the trust-building process which requires the seller to resist the natural tendency to guide the customer’s thinking towards the solution. Efforts such as these are self-serving and will immediately appear as such.

The key is for the seller to allow their natural curiosity to surface as they – with the customer – embark on an exploration of the business’s characteristics and nuanced needs.

How to Accomplish It

Directing the vision requires the seller to accomplish four outcomes. 

  1. The seller must help the customer properly diagnose their pain. 
  2. The seller must link the key players to ensure each stakeholder’s needs are understood. 
  3. The seller must align the stakeholder group to a central vision of what constitutes a good solution. 
  4. The seller must reconfirm the costs and causes of the customer’s pain and ensure that all stakeholders agree on the value of the proposed solution.

2. Get to Power

Get to Power means accessing those with the authority required to make a purchase. Put another way, you can’t sell to someone who can’t buy.

Getting to power means understanding the decision-making process and structure. The seller must gain access, stay connected, and stay aligned to those with influence in the business. The sales professional may not be able to depend on their existing contact or an established advocate within the customer’s business to propel the deal forward.

This does not mean that the initial contact should be ignored. They should be included because they can become an internal advocate for the seller and the solution. For this reason, it is important for the seller to ensure that the initial contact is personally motivated to advance the project before asking for access to those with the power to buy.

This approach is not about sidestepping anyone in the customer’s organization. Instead, it is an incremental process in which the buying group grows to include both the initial contact and those with buying power. The seller must establish credibility and trust before seeking access to others.

The seller must understand the power structure in order to access those in a position to buy. 

This happens by examining three stakeholder attributes.

  1. The seller must know who is involved in the decision. This first attribute is termed “focus” because it defines the interest of a stakeholder in the project. Generally, the stakeholder’s interest belongs to one of three classifications: solution, transition,
    and financial. Those with a solution focus will use the solution in their daily work. Transition-focused buyers are responsible for bringing the solution into operation. Financially focused stakeholders evaluate the investment case. The key is addressing the focus that is most relevant to the individual.
  2. The seller needs to identify if the stakeholder has the power to buy. Broadly, each person in the buying organization is either an interested party, a sponsor or a person of power. An interested party is a person who will have to likely use the solution once it is decided. A sponsor is often responsible for providing information and obtaining proposals from vendors. A person of power can determine the outcome of the sale.
  3. The sales professional must know each person’s level of influence. To determine a person’s influence the seller must know who has the reputation of a decision-maker, that person’s agenda, their decision-making style, and their likelihood to act.

Download our stakeholder analysis worksheet to start building a better understanding of the stakeholders involved in your current pursuits.

How to Accomplish It

To find the power the seller must reach three goals. 

  1. Sales professionals need to identify the decision process and bring visibility to the sometimes obscure chain of command.
  2. Sellers must uncover stakeholders and competition. 
  3. Sellers need to establish a timeline and a budget. 

With these three steps, sellers can find the power then ask for access, seek the insight of those with authority, and build their confidence in the solution.

3. Drive Consensus and Resolve Risk

Driving consensus and resolving risk means co-creating a collaboration plan that supports the mutual investment of time and resources.

A collaboration plan is a pre-emptive approach to minimize or eliminate late-stage concerns that create delays. It reduces inefficiencies and uncertainty for both the customer and the seller. This kind of plan guides the customer through the buying journey, assesses commitment, offers a solution, and builds the customer’s confidence in the product or service.

A collaboration plan lists a series of events. Each event must address one of three factors underpinning the sale: the solution aspects, the transition aspects, and the financial aspects. The solution aspects detail the scope of the customer’s challenge, the risk of inaction, and the best solution. The transitional aspects focus on the customer’s ability to implement the solution and mitigate risk. The financial aspects reveal if the solution will provide a worthwhile return above and beyond other possible investments.

Addressing these three areas with the collaboration plan reduces inefficiencies, helps manage resources, creates a timeline, and validates the business case before a decision is made.

Co-creating the collaboration plan consists of a three-step process.

First, the seller must position the concept of a collaboration plan. This means articulating the value of the approach. Here, it is useful to apply the issue – action – value structure. That is, the seller should make clear why it is needed, how it can happen, and the benefits. Customers are often receptive once they understand the process which consists of brainstorming, reviewing the draft, refining the plan, agreeing on it, and refining as needed.

Second, the customer and the seller must brainstorm together. This is the process of exploring how the customer wants to evaluate the solution. It is not necessary for the seller to commit to any actions at this point. The objective is to record the customer’s ideas.

Third, the seller should set the next steps by explaining that they will send a draft plan based on everything discussed. The seller should indicate when the buyer will receive it and when the seller will follow up with a call to discuss the plan in more detail. This is also a good opportunity to ask if anyone else in the buying organization should receive the collaboration plan.

A collaboration plan is highly effective because it is based on the concept of reciprocity. 

That is, the customer is likely to lend at least some of their time to something that has been created specifically for them. When a seller demonstrates a willingness to invest resources in helping the customer evaluate a solution, it’s likely that the customer will reciprocate by being cooperative.

How to Accomplish It

Driving Consensus and Resolving Risk requires executing the collaboration plan by following three key guidelines. 

  1. The seller must anchor all conversations to the plan. It is important to refer to it at the start and end of every meeting, so the customer knows what progress has been made. 
  2. The seller should iterate on the plan as needed and update it as new information is learned. 
  3. The collaboration plan is shared with those in power as it changes.

4. Persuade with Value

Persuading with value means positioning the value of the solution in a way that appeals to logic and emotion while making a compelling case for change.

This fourth and final driver is focused on positioning information in a way that is easy for the customer to understand. Therefore, sellers need to use compelling, concise language that clearly links the value of the solution to the customer’s needs. This focus on relevance appeals to the customer’s saliency bias. This bias tells us that information that stands out or seems relevant is more likely to affect people’s thinking and actions. The key is to emphasize the information that is most important to the customer.

Creating this emphasis often requires positioning skills that aim to create structure, customize the message to the customer’s needs, and use specific, concise language. When creating a structured message, it is helpful to signpost the information that will follow by explaining, for example, that “there are three ways in which the solution addresses the core need.” Customizing means underscoring the competitive differentiators that matter to the customer. Getting specific means offering evidence that quantifies value. Finally, being concise means offering just enough detail to be compelling but not overwhelming.

Persuading with value happens in three steps. First, the seller must recap the objectives and position the headlines. This means checking to ensure that the seller’s summary of customer needs is accurate and has not changed since the last meeting. Once the summary is agreed upon the seller can provide a quick overview of the number of ways in which the solution addresses those needs.

Second, the seller can position the value of the solution by citing the primary issue the customer faces, the action to be taken, and the value offered by the solution. It is important to keep this part of the dialogue interactive by occasionally checking that the areas covered are relevant to the customer.

Third, the seller should summarize what they have discussed and ask open-ended questions which seek feedback. By this point in the sales pursuit there should be plenty of specifics. Those in a decision-making role should have a clear, and comprehensive view of how the solution will address their specific needs.

Together, these steps prime for commitment. Priming refers to how our response to something is affected by prior exposure to the same or related thing. Emotions can be primed through exposure to something that is positive or negative. By using a clear, structured approach the seller will ensure that the customer has been emotionally primed and is ready to advance the sale.

How to Accomplish It

Effectively persuading with value requires gaining verbal agreement from the customer. This happens with three steps.

  1. Pivot to the close by checking for any final questions or comments. This is the time to surface any customer objections that have not been addressed.
  2. Ask the customer to commit to action by asking for the business and detailing the next steps.
  3. Reinforce the value of the solutions and deepen the rapport.

Take a More Simplified Approach to Selling with the Four Drivers

The Four Drivers clearly outline what actions sellers need to take, and when they need to take them. These drivers are one part of our Sprint Selling program which provides sales teams with the skills, and tools needed to win the sale in a changing world.

Sprint Selling is backed by behavioral science and powered by an agile framework that prepares the seller to make the much-needed in-the-moment adjustments that keep them aligned with a changing customer.

To learn more about the Sprint SellingTM program download this complimentary brochure or contact us to talk about building a customized solution for your team.

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