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training focuses exclusively on execution. Agile sellers pause and take the time to assess the buying situation by seeking information and making sense of the buying factors. Which factors? Our research has revealed five catego- ries of factors that consistently impact customer buying situations: problem awareness, competitive landscape, customer dynamics, buying stage, and solution definition. As you may suspect, there are multiple buying factors in each category; however, these five categories focus sellers on what to look for in order to get an accurate picture of the buying situation they are facing. Through our research with multiple organizations across various industries, we have identified four common buying situation archetypes, as well as the patterns of sales behavior most effective for each situation archetype. Once the buying situation is assessed, sellers then need to choose the sales approach that is most likely to lead to a win based on the buying situation they are facing. Our research has validated that there are four primary patterns of sales behavior exhibited by high-performing sellers: consultative, disruptive, competitive, and financial. Each of these patterns is effective under certain buying


conditions and aligns with a particular situational archetype. We teach sellers to read the buying situation, choose the pattern of selling behavior most appropriate for the buying situation they are facing, and then to execute that sales ap- proach effectively while monitoring buyer reactions.


AGILEEDGE® USES MACHINE LEARNING TO BE


MORE PRECISE For many organizations, the above approach is game changing. Yet there are other organizations that want more precision. They want to know the precise buying factors that most strongly influence the buying situations their sellers face. They also want to replicate the behavior of their top performers and know how they win in the various buying situations. For these customers, VantagePoint does two things. First, we use deal-level data and machine learning to


identify and distinguish the characteristics of the most com- mon buying situations encountered. The interplay of those factors can then be analyzed – allowing us to clarify the unique buying situations faced by sellers for the organiza- tion or business unit. For example, across a large organiza- tion with multiple business units, the buying factors may remain constant, but the buying situation clusters may differ. Second, we use machine learning to uncover the sales


tactics used in each buying situation and how they cluster to form patterns of sales behavior that lead to wins for each situation.


Real Example: In the client example below, the line chart shows the five factors that were most predictive of changes in seller behavior and how those factors clustered to form a unique buying situation for that client. The bar chart shows the most optimal and least optimal selling


strategy for two distinct business units. Interestingly, for business unit 1, the least optimal strategy was the most optimal strategy for business unit 2. Imagine if we gave this client the advice that they should use only a consultative approach in a “Tell Me” situation.


This would work well for business unit 2, but completely backfire for business unit 1. This level of precision enables our customers to clearly understand the buying situations their sellers face, as well as the sales approach most likely to lead to a win in each buying situation. Whichever approach our customer takes to gathering


situational intelligence, we then train their sellers how to assess buying factors present in their deals, recognize the relevant buying situation, choose the strategy most likely to win, and then execute that sales strategy effectively. This is a very precise method of sales enablement and can work for tenured sellers as well as new hires. You’re likely hiring new salespeople on an ongoing basis. Imagine equipping them to understand how your buyers buy and how your top performers win most of their deals. You’ll see a remarkable impact to their success acceleration! So how does this model for agility work for sales manag- ers? Do the same principles apply? Yes, indeed they do. Let’s explore this a bit further… • Situational Intelligence: Managers must determine the metrics most aligned to the results they are targeting, and which activities must be coached to align to those metrics. • Situational Readiness: Managers build out coach- ing plans (standard operating procedures) for how and when to coach to those activities in a rhythm of coaching conversations. • Situational Fluency: Managers are trained and drilled on how to identify the highest-impact activities, build the right rhythms, and conduct coaching conversations that have impact on the prioritized KPIs. This is different from how most managers are trained to coach their sellers. Most coaching programs focus on “how to coach.” This is a very serious flaw in sales man- ager enablement. Managers who are trained only on “how to coach” rarely show adoption of the coaching model they’ve learned because they haven’t done the heavy lift- ing of operationalizing the coaching approach into their everyday sales management world.


If you want to enable sales managers in a way that drives real performance, managers must be trained in a


SELLING POWER JULY/AUGUST 2021 | 39 © 2021 SELLING POWER. CALL 1-800-752-7355 FOR REPRINT PERMISSION.


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