“How do you rank your sellers’ ability to tailor messages for individual stakeholders on a scale of 1 to 10?”
To help your sales team in tailoring their sales pitches, we have developed the following three-step Stakeholders’ Alignment Framework:
Tailoring sales messages for individual stakeholders is a team effort. A stakeholders’ alignment team should be formed and include marketing, sales, industry experts, customer success, and possibly other functions. It may seem like the team has a lot of work, and initially, it can depend on how much progress has already been made. The good news is that the framework is scalable. Within an industry, the goals, strategies, initiatives, and KPIs tend to be the same across companies.
To help provide context, throughout this article, we will be using a real-world example of applying the stakeholders’ alignment framework for a clothing retailer selling through physical stores and e-commerce. One of the retailer’s biggest challenges was low revenue growth, below the industry average. Factors contributing to the revenue woes were changes in consumer buying habits, greater online buying, and fewer trips to stores. The seller in this case study provides solutions that help create better customer insights.
Step #1: Knowing Customer’s Goals And Strategies
Knowing a customer’s goals and strategies is the starting point in any value-based sales process. Yet, many customer executives believe that most sellers do not understand their business — including goals and strategies. A revenue organization should always be asking,
“What business and financial benefits does the customer want from our solutions?”
The customer’s goals and strategies provide valuable insights into the answer. Essential sources of goals and strategies are the company's Investor Presentations, Earnings Calls, and Annual Reports.
Sales teams often struggle to explain how their solutions can help customers achieve their goals. A recent survey conducted by FinListics reveals that 50% of respondents struggle to align their solutions to customers’ goals, and 31% still promote features and functions that are of little or no interest to customer executives.
To address this, it is recommended that the stakeholders’ alignment team research the top three to five industry goals and strategies before determining how their solutions can help. The “how” should be described in plain business language, not in terms of features and functions, which all stakeholders can easily understand.
In our case study of the clothing retailer, they have a goal of increasing revenue growth by implementing a strategy of creating a differentiative omni-channel experience.
Step #2: Identifying Buyer’s Initiatives
The next step in the framework is identifying which stakeholders are aligned with the company-wide goals and strategies. Your team needs to answer the following question:
“Which lines of stakeholders, i.e., marketing, sales, IT, etc. will be impacted by the goals and strategies?”
Industry experience helps to answer this question, as do investor presentations, where companies often break down their goals and strategies into initiatives that help identify stakeholders.
In our case study, examples of some of the business unit stakeholders and their initiatives include:
Additionally, the clothing retailer’s revenue organization is used to calling on marketing and merchandising since their customer insights solutions are a logical fit. But what about store operations? You will see in step 3 that store operations have revenue-related KPIs that can be improved through greater customer insights.
The stakeholders’ alignment team then must develop “how” messages for the prospect’s initiatives where their solutions can help drive improved business outcomes. These messages should be augmented by case studies demonstrating how the solutions have helped other companies in the customer’s industry.
Step #3: Understanding Buyer’s KPIs
Tailoring the message requires knowledge of what is on individual scorecards and the KPIs they are focused on. Ensure you refer to the stakeholder’s KPI in your messaging regarding how your solutions can help. Also, provide references (nothing confidential) where your solutions have helped other customers improve the KPIs, and ideally, by how much.
In our real-world example, below are examples of KPIs for the retailer’s critical stakeholders:
For the clothier, the above marketing and merchandising KPIs can be improved with better customer insights. But what about store operations to whom the seller may have not previously talked? Note that some of the store operation’s KPIs are based on revenue. Store operations would not likely be a key stakeholder, but by understanding how the solutions can improve their KPIs, they more likely will be motivated to recommend it.
Lastly, an essential takeaway from the third step is better insight into your usual stakeholders, while also finding and engaging with new ones. Hopefully, you have found the stakeholders’ alignment framework a valuable tool for helping your sales force become more relevant to executive stakeholders. To learn more, please download Insight-Led Selling, co-authored by Dr. Stephen Timme, and review Chapter 3, “Line of Business Insights”.
FinListics - Business Insights Platform for a Competitive Edge
In today's complex B2B buying landscape, merely having a solution is not enough. A sales team must be adept at crafting messages that resonate with every stakeholder involved in the purchasing decision. Equip your team with the tools and strategies they need to stand out in the ever-evolving enterprise B2B selling landscape. At FinListics, we specialize in offering Business Insights-as-a-Service tools to give your sales team a competitive edge. Reach out to our experts today and leverage the power of tailored messaging for unparalleled sales success.