Enterprise sales - maintaining success in a downturn (part 1)
As we adapt to the new normal, many DWCC clients are wondering, ‘how do we continue to be successful in this radically altered landscape?’
Amongst all the distractions it can sometimes seem like the usual playbooks are no longer relevant, but one thing that remains critical (even with such upheaval) is to be strictly customer-focused.
This is the first of two blogs examining how to maintain focus and success in a downturn and how we can align to a customer or prospect’s key considerations at a business level.
In downturns companies reorient their priorities; some focus on cash flow, some go into survival mode, and some double down seeing a downturn as an opportunity.
When strategizing deals or customer solutions, I always ask four important questions:
1. How do we add value to Strategic Enterprise Spend initiatives?
Most publicly held companies lay out their strategic spend initiatives in quarterly or annual reports. If you can clearly and succinctly show how you will add value to those efforts (devoid of hyperbole!), then as long as you are speaking with power, you can guarantee a seat at the table. Do not give up.
2. How do we address ‘risks to the business’?
Quarterly reports also include ‘risks to the business’. Many sales people never view this section but it’s important to pay attention to it; now more than ever it tells you what a company is worried about. If you can alleviate or somehow eliminate these worries then that’s another surefire way to get a seat at the table
3. How do we align with common enterprise Critical Business Initiatives?
Companies in the same or similar sectors (e.g. trucking) face similar challenges. Understand the sectors you're targeting and the common Key Business Initiatives. The more you understand, the more you are able to articulate your Value Add in that sector and focus more closely on the prospect’s unique or specific concerns and initiatives.
4. How are they spending budget dollars?
Hand in hand with strategic and critical business initiatives, budget allocations in most companies are laid in stone. If your solution sits outside of these budgets, then you are usually looking at a lengthy process to get included - unless your offering is considered a "fire-fighting" solution (e.g. Cybersecurity). If you identify an existing budget bucket which fits your solution, then the process is significantly shorter.
Another ‘shortcut’ to take is to have a payback period. When a CFO is looking at a pile of solutions, most of which promise impressive ROIs, what criteria are they going to use for their approval? A combination of budget alignment with a short payback period can often appeal more than just ROI alone. Remember, cash is king, especially in the current climate.
NB: for points 1 & 2, if you are dealing with non-public companies who don’t publish this information, don’t be afraid to ask!
In my next blog, I will look more closely at how to manage decision makers’ perception of risk during challenging economic periods.
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