Digital innovation has forever changed the dynamics of B2B enterprise buying and selling. Hyper-informed B2B buyers are advancing through 80% of the purchase journey without seller assistance or involvement. In parallel, sellers are finding it increasingly difficult to capture the time and attention of executive buyers among all the noise inherent in crowded, competitive, and complex product segments. Something must change.
Expanding Account Research to Shape an Improved Sales Narrative
Knowing a prospect’s business and understanding the motives and factors driving their purchase requirements continue to be the most vital information your sales team needs to successfully engage with executive buyers.
So, what needs to change? The depth and breadth of the data set required in your account research to inform and shape the sales narrative. Static contact information, high-level Google searches, and intent signals inferred from a trail of website breadcrumbs must give way to a higher-order form of account research. As a result, this transformation places new demands on your sales team, including:
- Tailoring solutions to align directly with the account’s strategic initiatives
- Demonstrating a clear point of view on where, how, and the expected quantitative and qualitative outcomes of your solution
- Creating a clear pathway to customer value delivery and realization
Welcome to modern-day enterprise sales.
Key Questions to Address in Account Research
Account research and planning should be guided by a series of questions, that when answered, will display a deep understanding of the account’s business. In addition, your salesforce must provide a clear sense of how your solution aligns with and impacts the prospect’s strategic goals and achievement of key operating and financial objectives. Below are some of the essential questions regarding a prospect’s finances and operations that your team must answer:
What is the current state of their business as measured by its last 12 months of performance and the results from the last financial reporting period?
How are they trending across key financial metrics and operational KPIs?
How does their operating and financial performance benchmark against industry averages?
What are the trends and developments driving the industry? Which ones present the biggest opportunities and/or threats to their business?
How are peers in the industry addressing risks and opportunities?
What critical strategies, goals, and initiatives are expected to drive their performance improvements?
What are the goals and strategies your solution is expected to impact?
How does your solution improve operational KPI’s and what is the financial benefit?
Having answered these and additional questions, your salesforce is then positioned to frame a “performance narrative”. A compelling narrative must reflect a deep understanding of the buyer’s business while connecting to and supporting their goals and strategies. There is simply no better way to engage and capture the attention of an executive buyer, and earn the credibility and trust needed to get complex deals done.
Better Insights Drive Better Outcomes
Knowledge is indeed power, but it is generating data-driven business insights that now rule the day and set your sales team apart from competitors. What you know about a prospect’s business and how you express it profoundly impacts your and your prospect’s success.
Customer-Centric account research is the new X-factor for sales success. As an Enterprise Sales Leader, meeting the demands of the new selling environment requires more in-depth account research from your team to transform the buyer experience. Most importantly, your salesforce needs to gather this information in a proven systematic manner to ensure a repeatable, accurate, and timely process.
Learn more about how to perform account research like a business analyst by watching our on-demand learning video, Enterprise Account Planning & Research.