In today’s era of selling, customers are engaging suppliers only after they have done significant due diligence to determine their needs, identify a solution, and settle on a price they are willing to pay for that solution. In this world of established demand, reps are being relegated to a role of fulfillment with price being the only thing they are able to compete on by the time a customer reaches out to them.
It goes without saying that this is not an environment that any sales organization wants to operate in, but given today’s better informed customer, this shift in buying behavior is a reality that is here to stay and sellers must face.
As such, SEC set out in its 2012 research to determine how sales organizations can overcome this challenge by identifying how the best sales reps are getting ahead of the price-driven sale. Our research found that to do so, high performing reps teach customers where they learn, delivering disruptive commercial insight that effectively reframes the way they think about their business and the problems facing it.
In the process of analyzing how the best performing reps teach their customers into (or back into) the beginning of the sales funnel, SEC identified the ways reps use commercial teaching to reframe customer thinking. These approaches are based on how familiar customers are with the problem at hand, and whether or not they have already developed an understanding of the solution.
The three types of reframes are:
- Underestimated Problem: Reps use this type of reframe when customers are both familiar with the problem at hand and have developed at least some notion of what a potential solution could be. To reframe customer thinking, reps teach them that the problem they face is one of greater magnitude than they had originally thought or that it should be appreciated differently. Therefore, the problem warrants a different approach which the rep is then able to teach the customer about.
- Unrecognized Driver: For this type of reframe, customers are familiar with the problem, but have accepted it as a cost of doing business or a problem that they just can’t resolve. As such, they have no inclination as to what the solution could be nor are they looking for one. In this situation, reps teach customers that their problem is actually driven by a different, unrealized root cause that had not considered, revealing the opportunity for the problem to be better managed or solved by the supplier solution.
- Unanticipated Problem: When customers present themselves to be ignorant of or completely ill-informed about an issue, reps can take the opportunity to teach them that an unrecognized problem is fast approaching, and will have a detrimental impact if not addressed. If reps commercially teach their customers about this problem effectively, they will lead the customer to how they are uniquely positioned as a supplier to solve it.
SEC Members, to learn more about the three types of reframes and see examples of what world-class commercial insights look like in practice, make sure to check out this year’s study Getting in Early: Shaping Customer Demand Through Pre-Funnel Engagement and register for the upcoming webinar Creating Cutting-Edge Sales Messages.
Also make sure to read more about the implications that today’s insight selling era has on your organization, and our new research-based sales methodology, the Challenger Plan, that represents how today’s best sales people, Challengers, approach commercial opportunities in this environment.