Every day it’s getting harder and harder to get marketing cut-through. Consumers are becoming savvier to sales messaging and advertisements and more reluctant to reach out until later in their buyer’s journey. And while it’s now easier and cheaper to get your messaging in front of consumers, it’s also easier and cheaper for your competitors (and their competitors… and so on).
Need proof? You just need to look at some of these recent stats:
- A global average of 37% of Internet users now block ads
- 79% of buyers wait until after they’ve fully defined their needs to engage with a vendor
- 44% of millennials prefer no sales rep interaction at all in a B2B setting
This all means that salespeople and marketers must try harder than ever to reach their target audience and prove their value early on. Research has shown that early engagement is successful if there’s a higher risk to the buyer (almost 1 in 5 buyers would engage if this is the case) – which can be emphasised through effective sales messaging.
One of the best ways to do this? Look at what influences your buyers.
We spoke to align.me’s sales master and co-founder Brett Bonser to get his take on how to tailor your sales messaging to the buying influences to increase your closure rates.
First, let’s clear up the difference between marketing and sales messaging
One of the reasons that businesses are getting less cut-through is that their messaging isn’t targeted enough.
Most use marketing messaging, which is:
- Built for scale and has less personalisation;
- More focused on positioning businesses in a solutions category; and
- Designed to engage buyers in an early conversation.
Whereas sales messaging is:
- Highly personalised to the buyer and targeted at what’s meaningful to consumers;
- Intends to genuinely excite and engage; and
- Designed to get into a one-on-one selling meeting as the next action.
Another way to think about this is that marketing messaging opens the door, but sales messaging invites the buyer in.
Research from Sirius Decisions has shown that the greatest inhibitor to sales effectiveness is the inability to communicate a value message. If you’re not able to target the right people or address their challenges in the right way, there’s a serious risk of de-credentialising yourself and failing to get traction.
With so many hesitant buyers on the market, this could mean losing out on a large number of opportunities. So, where can you improve your sales messaging?
Who are the buying influences and what do they care about?
There are several different ways to target your sales messaging. For instance, focusing on job roles. We know that CFOs care a lot about accountability, and marketing leaders want to drive campaigns and growth.
Part of this targeting also includes looking into your buyers’ role in the buying process – otherwise known as the buying influences (coined by the Heiman Group, otherwise known as Korn Ferry). Brett himself uses and follows the Miller-Heiman Sales System, including the buying influences.
In the sales process, there are always three buying influences. These are the:
- Economic buyer who’s looking at a return on investment
- Technical buyer who’s looking at a match to specifications
- User buyer who’ll be the end-user and is assessing the change initiative around how this will impact their job performance.
A bonus influence is the coach, an individual from the organisation pushing for your product or service to be chosen. (More on this later.)
A single person or persona can also play all three roles in the process, so it’s important not to assign one role too early.
How do I find out what challenges my buying influences have?
The average number of customer stakeholders involved in the B2B buying process is 6.8. And each stakeholder has different priorities and concerns about your product or service. So being able to resonate with each stakeholder’s challenges or role means you’ll get better cut through.
There’s now an enormous amount of information in the public domain. Almost everyone has a digital footprint, and for B2B salespeople, there are multiple ways you can learn more about your targets’ buying influences. Brett’s ‘go-to’s’ are:
- Looking at their LinkedIn profiles
- Talking to colleagues who’ve had dealings with the prospects or their company before
- Utilising your CRM, which will also have captured a lot of information during the prospect’s interactions with you, as well as who historically played the different buying influence roles
But the best source of information is the coach, who’s connected to the sales opportunity and acts as your champion. You have credibility with them, they have credibility with the buying influences for the project, and they want your solution to win. If you can identify the coach, they can arm you with the information you need to tailor your messaging and overall sales strategy.
Tailoring the perfect message
Tailoring your messaging works at any stage of the buyer’s journey, but the level of customisation will really depend on your time and budget.
If you’re targeting just ten very specific contacts, you can highly customise each message. If your campaign is going out to 100 targets, it’ll be very hard to write each a tailored message. But you can still use the buying influences and the information you’ve gathered to create something that speaks to all the contacts.
The good news is that it’s useful across all your points of contact, such as in LinkedIn outbound messaging and face-to-face meetings. For businesses that don’t have the time to target every message they send out, Brett recommends targeting buying influences either in the early phase when buyers have just become interested in a topic or later when there’s a defined project initiative.
Your sales strategy plays a vital role in closing deals – but it can be a complex process that can be tough to truly master. This is why align.me runs B2B sales training for businesses across every industry.
We utilise the market-leading Miller Heiman Sales System to undertake performance-based sales training that turns your people into a team of master sellers. If improving your sales skills is a priority, you can get in touch with us to discuss how we can help your B2B team become expert sellers.
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