Personal, differentiated conversations can improve close rates and stop sales drops

Recently, I spoke with an Account Director responsible for existing and new customer growth for an Oracle Supply Chain partner and ERP partner. He has offices in the US, Asia, and UK. The firm:

12- to 18-month sales cycle for enterprise accounts. Most efforts lead to RFP, reducing margin growth.

Responds to customer-defined requirements rather than creating one. This reduces deal sizes by 10%-30%

Customer lifetime value is limited because they need to get the top-down engagement required for customers to use the entire portfolio of services.

Inability to reach the COO/VP level required to drive profit growth

Close to 30 – 35% of the time

A 30% closing rate is unacceptable whether you are selling alone or with a partner like Oracle, SAP, JDA, and Microsoft. If manufacturers, retailers, distributors, etc. If they didn’t invest in the tools that you offer, it was because they needed to realize the upfront value of your solutions and the gaps you can fill after-go life. They couldn’t see your tools’ positive impact on their company, P&L, and operations.

Sales Need More Conversational, Account-Based Support

Personal attention and conversations are essential to win, protecting, and grow high-value accounts.

Manufacturers and other stakeholders are not able to see the firm’s actual value. They talk about how they deliver 91% within budget and on time vs. the industry’s average of 40%. They speak of achieving 96% of business goals, compared to the industry average of 64%.

The website, LinkedIn profiles, content, and messaging don’t address the account-specific and competitor-specific gaps that cause 50% more delays in go-live and 32% less success at KPI go-live and after-implementation. Instead, I see website content that speaks to the same features and benefits as the Oracle SCM website’s 60+ partners and the JDA website’s 40+ partners. I see resume-based profiles that contain generic information about the company, such as how they specialize in integrating supply chains and solving critical business challenges from design to solution.

They provide complete consulting and implementation solutions to link innovation and Supply Chain Management. They work with their customers to reduce information silos and improve performance to increase innovation, fuel growth, and achieve operational excellence. They don’t talk about specific accounts or the gaps they have. Nor do they discuss the potential impact of the implementation firm. Their blog contains product-based content.

This is great for brand awareness but only supports selling conversations. You need to create a buying vision that not only addresses the immediate and long-term needs of the target but also includes the hidden needs they may have yet to realize they had. Forrester Research found that 74% of salespeople create a buying vision, which is a significant advantage over the competition. This is a remarkable win rate and a testament to the importance of marketing in shaping a sale.

The importance of proving value and alignment with specific accounts

During research for one of my supply chain technology clients, I found a DC Velocity survey that shows that 50% of organizations feel that their applications (WMS/TMS/Order Management/Distribution/ERP platforms) do not deliver the desired ROI and that’s after enormous risk for failed go-lives. It’s because IT doesn’t align with customer and operational needs. Most software providers and implementation partners fulfill requests.

A JDA partner, a client of mine, shared that the simple fulfillment mindset leads to transactional sales. JDA, Oracle, and other platforms want to offer a lower “upfront” cost to compete. This competitive bidding system creates little to no contingencies, limited stakeholder ownership, a high risk of misfire or delay (if the account wins), and lower close rates. Instead of focusing on the best price, the focus should be on the bells and whistles. You can shift the focus from the implemented tool to the solution you can offer that customer. Your answer should be a “must-have” for your target customers. This will make them more likely to buy your tools and services.

Communication must shift. There need to be no silos or traditional handoffs between accounts, sales, and marketing. They must work together, have common goals and metrics, and work together to win, expand, and protect specific accounts. Instead of talking to large numbers of accounts and positioning themselves as a “potentially best fit” with other firms, teams should focus their efforts, time, and resources on showing that they are the best choice for each client’s specific needs. This can only be done if your messaging and content are tailored to each social, email, and live selling conversation.

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