3 Pathways To Accessing ‘Locked-In’ B2B Mindsets

3 Pathways To Accessing ‘Locked-In’ B2B Mindsets

As previously published on 9/9/21 in The Drum

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 5 Minutes

I went for a bike ride on a trail that I’ve traveled many times but have avoided lately because of the ‘Covid crowds’.

Taking off in a southern direction on the 10-foot-wide path, my focus was on the bike computer between the handlebars. As typical, I was locked in on my speed and spin rate. Knowing the scenic path along the Neuse River well, I put my head down and focused on my performance.

That was until I ended up in a parking lot. Trying to piece together where I was and how I got there made me realize that I didn’t notice any of my typical landmarks, which then caused a bit of a panic.

Pulling my phone out to unravel the mystery, I discovered that the focus on my performance put me two miles past my usual turnaround spot. After figuring out the situation, I decided to keep my head up on the return.

As I pedaled back, I noticed that a scenic overlook, which served as an important landmark, had been expanded and recently landscaped. The biggest surprise, which was somewhat startling, was a 100-yard clearing of trees for the expansion of a housing development not more than 30 feet off the trail.

The scenario I just described is not unlike what happens with our audiences during their workday. They step on to the 10-foot path that is their job in the morning and travel it like a well-worn trail to their usual destination.

Their computers narrow their focus and attention even more, just like my bike computer. It’s a heads-down routine that often makes them oblivious to changes all around. This creates an opportunity for us to discover new insights that enable us to redefine our position and messaging that gets their attention.

A ‘locked-in’ mindset makes us vulnerable to bias and blind spots. The longer someone has been in the job or industry, the more likely they are to believe they know ‘the path’. The brain seeking to reserve ‘brain power’ moves routine tasks to a part of the brain that requires little cognitive energy. This is the reason I ended up in the parking lot on a trail I thought I knew well.

As a result, we can bring new insights to this audience. Typically, there are three fertile areas to explore:

  1. The unknown. This is the typically the hardest to discover, but the most powerful.
  2. The underappreciated. What has changed that makes something known more impactful or significant?
  3. The undervalued. What are they missing that may be impacting their success, their mission or their customers?

Depending on our audience’s personalities, some of these areas are more impactful than others.

For example, on the way down the path I kept my head down and focused on my performance. This very much aligns with a personality type that is career driven. We can gain their attention through messaging that alerts them to something ‘unknown’ down the path.

If that audience segment only focuses on one or two things that they believe drive their business or performance, like my speed and spin rate, what can you tell them about the importance of understanding another factor?

What is on their ‘path’ that they may be missing, like a parking lot two miles from the usual turnaround spot? What ‘unknown’ is just over the horizon that may impact their success?

On the return journey, my behavior was like another key audience that is constantly scanning the horizon for new things to share with others. They will be looking for the changes to establish ‘landmarks’ to share, like me telling a neighbor who also bikes the trail about my discovery of the construction area.

This audience segment seeks and brings new information into the organization. They’re not as focused on the ‘path’ as much as they are on what is happening around it. As a result, that typically leads them to sharing information highlighting the undervalued or underappreciated.

In both cases, the new information I gained will change my behavior and will cause me to act, which is the goal of marketing. The new construction will disrupt my biking experience. In the future I will avoid that section of the ‘path’. I also now have a new appreciation for checking the distance traveled, and occasionally picking my head up to determine where I am along the trail.

Buyers ‘lock in’ every day at work, and a message right in front of them on the well-worn path will not disrupt. They’ll ride over like a bump on the trail. To capture their attention, search off their beaten path and over the horizon. It’s what they don’t see, or realize, that matters – because no one wants to end up in a parking lot.

The Most Important Driver in B2B Sales… and No One is Measuring It.

The Most Important Driver in B2B Sales… and No One is Measuring It.

As previously published on 7/7/21 in The Drum

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 5 Minutes

Selling something to someone is risky…for them, not you, especially if this is a first time purchase. You’re asking a buyer to take a risk making a decision with the organization’s money, on a vendor or solution they don’t know, with only the promise of a reward to come.

The first part of the buyer’s journey involves three things – collecting information (about vendors, solutions, etc.), defining/understanding the need/problem, and trying to mediate risk (see the first two).

The point; where there is risk, there is an emotional buyer. The rational driver of the decision making process takes a backseat to the emotional side of the brain. And now for the problem, the way we qualify and measure the quality of a lead or buyer is almost completely rationally driven.

Let’s take BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) as an example. Do they own or have access to a budget? Rational. Are they the decision maker? Rational. Do we understand their needs? Check, rational. Do we know the decision making timeframe or when the budget might be available? Check, and check.

Maybe it’s unfair to use BANT, so let’s try using Strategic Selling as a framework. Are they the economic buyer? Rational. Are they the technical buyer? Rational. Insert your own process or steps from marketing automation, ABM program, CRM platform, etc…, and you’ll come to the same conclusion.

The point is, our performance is poor and does not improve because we are not capturing half or more of the key elements of the purchasing process. We track an action or activity without understanding the reason behind it.

Downloading a white paper, attending a webinar, or requesting information may or may not indicate intent. Without understanding the reasons behind those actions, we can only use metrics based on similar actions from the past and that is why our performance is so poor. It’s also the reason why it is so difficult to improve performance.

Our metrics too often reflect rearview mirror actions, recording what happened in the past without insight into what will happen in the future. AI will begin to fill in that blank but it will be informed only by looking at what actions happened in the past as well.

We have no metrics for tracking the emotional involvement of the buyers involved in the purchase decision. And the most important of all of them is motivation.

Plenty of organizations and decision makers have needs. The question is, are they motivated to solve them. Most importantly, are they motivated to advocate for your brand or solution? The more you understand the differences in buyers’ personal preferences and motivations the more you’ll understand that the way we measure our sales and marketing activities, and performance, is incomplete.

For example, some buyers are motivated by bringing new ideas into the organization but will not advance the buying process. Others will champion ideas and drive them forward, but only if it benefits them. These behaviors ebb and flow within the corporate culture. A culture that also has its own motivations and behaviors, impacting how buyers behave within it.

And all of this is happening in real time, not in a well defined process, with rational steps neatly constructed within a linear timeline. Contributing to the challenge is the ever growing investment in the sales and marketing tech stack that chases optimization through machinery…e.g. volume. Because we can’t get better, we have to go broader.


What to Do

Sales is not just a “numbers game”, it’s also a head game, and it’s time for us to get our heads into that game. There are three steps that can help you track the “softer” side of the buying process.

  • Understand that corporate culture impacts decision making – start defining the dominant corporate culture. Is it sales, product, science, engineering, etc…? Track competing initiatives inside the org that may disrupt your sales success. This will help you understand the organizational motivation and how to align your efforts. Also, as a start, see Hank Barnes insightful work on corporate culture.
  • Understand that buyers have personalities which impact motivations – marketing has recognized that emotions exist in B2B and are being used to motivate audiences to take action, but this has not made its way into demand generation and sales.
  • Add the right tool to the martech stack – invest in personality profiling tools like xiQ or Crystal Knows to add the emotional elements that you are currently missing.

In order to improve, we need to add “why” metrics to the “what” currently tracked. As Kurt Vonnegut put it in his novel Player Piano, “If it weren’t for the people, the goddamn people always getting tangled up in the machinery…the world would be an engineer’s paradise.” For better or worse, our buyers are people, not a role or a title, and those people are rational and emotional.

The way we have constructed our measurement systems is based on an overly rationalized process driven by legacy manufacturing management practices that seek optimization through repetition. It’s not working. It’s time to rethink the machinery so we can help ourselves from getting tangled up in it.

What If Every Rep Was Trained On Challenger? Interview with Brent Adamson

What If Every Rep Was Trained On Challenger? Interview with Brent Adamson

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 1 Minute

Given the popularity of our last video clip we are releasing another clip of Scott’s interview with Brent. In this slightly longer piece Brent addresses the question of what to do if the buyers felt like they had all the content they needed to make a purchase decision and all sales reps were trained on Challenger. How could you still compete?


To view the full interview with Brent Adamson please click here.

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How Has Challenger Changed? Interview with Brent Adamson

How Has Challenger Changed? Interview with Brent Adamson

by Katie Weisz
Estimated read time: 1 Minute

Back in September of 2019, CEO, Scott Gillum, had the opportunity to sit down and interview VP, Brent Adamson. Brent is a distinguished Vice President at Gartner, and a published author with a lot to say about the case between sales and marketing.

During this interview, Brent dove deep into the idea of Challenger as a sales and marketing methodology. These newly released clips are a major highlight to what Challenger is, and isn’t, and how the idea of it has changed over the years.

In part 1 of the clip, Brent goes forth with debunking the idea of Challenger as a ‘sales methodology’, why it should be looked at as more of a ‘go to marketing’ model, and why sales and marketing need to be co-owning the idea of challenger marketing.

In part 2, Brent continues his dive into Challenger Marketing and how marketing and sales needs to focus on the customer in a different way.

Are the customers overlooking information, do customers know more than sales and marketers, or do we need to be telling them what they miss?

To view the full interview with Brent Adamson please click here.

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3 Things to Do in 2020 to Hit Your Sales Goals

3 Things to Do in 2020 to Hit Your Sales Goals

by Katie Weisz
Estimated read time: 1 Minute

Just one month into 2020 and we already know that 50% of the sales force isn’t going to make their sales objectives for the year.

In fact, that number has been on the decline for the last 5 years, and one likely reason is that what customers are buying and what you are selling are not aligned.

Here are Scott’s top 3 tips that you can implement now so that you meet your sales objectives in 2020:

  1. Get feedback from your team
  2. Make sure you have 2 whys
  3. Give the customer a vision of the future

Find out more on why these three things are so important to the success of your sales objectives here:

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What Buyers Really Buy

What Buyers Really Buy

by Scott Gillum
Estimated read time: 8 Minutes

“The best sellers are the people who make the product,” said my son as we were walking out of a store in a quaint town in Los Cabos, Mexico.

It was an interesting comment made after I had just purchased a pair of earrings for my wife in a jewelry boutique. The buying experience turned out to be an interesting “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” sales story, or in our case, the “Tourist and the Four Brothers.” 

A few nights prior, after enjoying dinner in town, we walked the streets visiting local shops. The first jewelry store we visited was run by one of four brothers, all jewelry designers who had followed their father into the business. Each brother had their own style, which was reflected in their jewelry, shop decor and personalities. 

The first brother’s store was white and teal, very similar to Tiffany’s. The display cases were decorated with high-end tequila bottles sprinkled among the jewelry, which immediately caught my eye. My wife, perusing the counters, settled in an area with rings while I chatted with the clerk behind the counter about the family and their business. 

In working with my wife the sales person failed to realize that he wasn’t selling to a naive tourist but rather a very knowledgeable buyer who at one point in her career had managed a jewelry department for a high end retailer.  A mistake often made by sales people who fail to do research on their potential buyers. As he pitched her on a ring she had intentionally requested to see, he failed to notice she was wearing one similar. 

When buyers are in an unfamiliar environment, like we were, they will seek to find a frame of reference or an “anchor.” Something that they can connect to their knowledge base to aid in decision making. Being new to the store, and pricing in pesos, my wife “anchored” on a familiar ring. Trying on the ring she was able to assess that it was roughly twice the price and half the weight as hers. Now that she had a reference point, she determined that the store markup was about twice that of a US store.  

The second brother’s store was bigger and had a vast selection of jewelry (and no tequila). The clerk, a niece of the designer, greeted us and carried around her calculator while following us around the store. A not so subtle message that she was ready to make a deal.  

My wife found an area of rings and picked one out. As she asked questions, the store clerk mentioned they were having a promotion. She then tried to discount to close the deal which kept falling as we were walking towards the door. By the time we left, the price had fallen 40%, with an offer to call her Uncle to get maybe an even better price. 

The last store we visited was white, simple and elegant. It didn’t contain a lot of inventory, in fact, one of the display cases was completely empty. The person working behind the desk was not a sales clerk, but an assistant designer who introduced us to the youngest brother in the family and owner of the store. He was the designer and told us about his creations apologizing for the lack of inventory.  

We talked about his life, his education in London, and the fact that he didn’t want to get into the family business, but his love of designing drew him in. His real passion was designing furniture which he hoped to start retailing soon. 

My wife found a pair of earrings and tried them on. As she did he explained the process used to give the silver hoops their shimmer along with the details about the gems used to enhance them. He brought over other silver earrings and pointed out the differences in the design process.  

Deciding to purchase the earrings, we asked if they had a “promotion.” He said that Visa or Mastercard were offering a 10% discount on a purchase. The card companies, not him, offered the promotion. 

As we were paying, I noticed a unique bottle of tequila sitting behind the desk. A dark blue bottle with carved symbols of the tequila making process along with the history of the Los Cabos area. He said it appealed to him “because as a designer” he appreciated the craftsmanship of the bottle. I loved the story (and the taste) of the tequila and he offered to connect me with the owner who lived locally to secure a bottle. 

The first store tried to position itself as the Mexican version of Tiffany’s. The problem was, we had no prior exposure to the brand, so the brand promise and value were empty. The second store offered choice and price but made us question it’s authenticity and quality. (Given the amount of products offered we suspected the owner couldn’t have designed everything, and the discount made us question if the stone used in the ring was natural or man made.)  

Later that night, I got a text from the store owner where we made our purchase, sharing the price and location to pick up the tequila. He didn’t have to follow up with me after we made the purchase but he did. It wasn’t an empty promise made to close the deal which happens far too often, but a genuine gesture. 

In the end, my wife received a piece of jewelry she loves and I got a unique bottle of tequila but what we really bought, was the owner of the store. For the 20 minutes we spent in the store, a connection and relationship were formed through storytelling. It was both authentic and passionate, building a foundation of trust. 

The experience made me reflect on the effectiveness of our sales and marketing efforts. What if we could train our sales people to act like “owners” or “designers” of the product; how might that impact their success? That question prompted another one which was, how many sales people ever receive training by the product group, or really know or understand the story behind the product or service they sell. 

We can’t give the passion that comes with the pride in ownership, but we can train them to be storytellers, because as we experienced, buyers don’t buy from you, they buy into you.  

As for the fourth brother, his store never opened. Guess it’s true, showing up is half the battle. 

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