The sales landscape is changing, and quickly by the looks of it. With the intense pressures of today’s economic climate, companies are even more conscious about making the right purchasing decisions. They know they can’t afford to waste money, time or give competitors the advantage. This means businesses have to seriously consider every penny they spend and think about how what they’re buying will address the immediate issue at hand, as well as their wider business goals. Each purchase has to prove its worth with clear and quantifiable benefits, but this has had a knock-on effect on the procurement process and the lives of those selling to the enterprise market. It’s become far more complicated and needs addressing quickly.

Consider Your Audience

It was once relatively easy to get mid-level management to sign-off on a quick sale, but this is rarely the case anymore. A combination of new expectations and increased demands mean that purchasing decisions have moved up the hierarchy to the C-Suite. This is an opinion shared by, Steven Diebold of The Business Model Review in his article ‘The Problem with Selling in the future’. He argues that “today’s sales professionals have NOT made the necessary adjustments within their process, and the way they approach a buyer and ultimately try to sell to them.”

Sales people will now not only have to win over their initial point of contact but they’ll then have to get the buy in of people such as the COO and CIO, or even committees that include other departments like finance. This means it’s essential that sales teams cater pitches to each of these audiences. Mid-level managers, who are the ones likely to be using whatever you’re selling, will want to know how it will make their every-day working life easier, COOs will want to know how it will fit into their internal business processes, whilst CFOs will want to get under the skin of the numbers.

Paint the Right Picture

The question now, is how do you ensure you paint the right picture for each of these people? You could of course create a different proposal for each of them, but that would be hugely time consuming and people often tire of reading lengthy word documents. Another option to consider is displaying the information visually. My team and I do so using Mindjet’s interactive maps.

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Because these maps are expandable, you can include every single last detail but then only reveal the amount that’s relevant to the person reading it. For instance, if I’m talking to a CFO I can drill down into the finances involved in a project, or talk the CIO through the implementation process of the technology I’m pitching, whilst just showing the CEO the top-line points.

In such a competitive environment, sales professionals must consider the needs of everyone in the procurement chain. It’s only by creating a compelling and relevant argument that you will seal the deal.