In the most recent episode of Taking The Lead, Outreach’s CRO, Anna Baird sat down with Christina Brady to discuss a number of topics, including a new way to understand the customer journey.  A few of the quick highlights in this article:

  • We did a lot of selling TO, instead of selling WITH our customers. 
  • If the CEO is saying, here are the four things we’re focusing on this year. You better understand what those four things are if you’re trying to sell to them because that’s what they’re being measured against.
  • Our buyers need us to understand and be empathetic to the pressure they’re under and how we help them achieve things with what we’re trying to achieve as well, and get a joint action plan that gets to the result we both want.

”Change gives you an opportunity,” says Anna Baird, the CRO at Outreach. The past year and a half have shown us what we can do when our arms are tied. The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed the way people run their businesses and forced companies to adapt and work within uncertainty and limitations. The B2B space is full of opportunities, but it all depends on how much you are willing to risk. 

Our today’s guest is a true risk-taker. Ana believes in hard work and devotion, and if you think you can make a positive impact, don’t hesitate to achieve it. Before coming to Outreach, Ana was the CFO responsible for providing financial and strategic leadership at Livongo Health. She was also the President & CFO of RadiumOne and CFO & Head of Operations at SAY Media. 

In the latest episode of the Taking the Lead podcast, Anna Baird joins our host, Christina Brady, to discuss changes within the B2B space caused by COVID-19. They talk about the vendor-customer relationship. Anna says companies must focus on the buyers, their needs, and purchasing habits. Instead of selling, companies should offer solutions and be partners with their customers.

The importance of understanding the buyer’s strategy

The outbreak of COVID-19 has made customers reconsider their purchasing habits. Vendors have to acknowledge those changes and use them as guidelines for further actions. ”When you talk about how buyers want to buy, you have to understand their strategy,” says Anna. 

Instead of focusing on customers’ challenges and looking for ways to help them, vendors in the B2B space have been way too focused on features and functionalities.

”I think in a lot of companies, it was still easy because people had that extra budget they could buy on features and functionality. That changed drastically with COVID. We started to address what are the challenges that our customers are working through and how do we help understand and position our product or our service to say, ‘What is it that we can do to help you?”‘

The outcome vs. the product journey

Companies are often under a lot of pressure when presenting a service or a product to a potential customer, especially if their product or service did not reach maturity. But remember, customers need time to see the value of your business offer. You as a vendor need time to see your product’s journey within the customer’s organizations and learn from it. 

Don’t focus on outcomes, Anna suggests. Many things could happen in, say, the first 30 or 60 days that could change the customer’s perspective regarding your offer. Take the most of the evaluation process. 

”It is us all taking a step back as go-to-market organizations and saying, ‘What are the steps that happen there that we can measure, demonstrate, talk about differently?”’

It is surprising, our guest also states, how people in B2B SaaS didn’t realize how much their product was impacting and not articulating. ”You’re always talking about the outcome versus the journey of your evolution within your customer’s organization.”

Instead of being a vendor, be a partner to your customer

The economy is outcome-based, but even so, companies in the B2B space should change their approach. The focus is not on selling the product but on offering the solution. Be a partner, not a vendor, says Anna. It’s not about the vendor’s goal; it is about what the customer needs. 

”Here’s where we’re trying to get to; this is the goal that the company has, not what you have. Now let’s talk about how we’re going to impact that and how we measure success against that? It is your whole customer journey, and we’re on a journey together.”

Anna mentions a quote she will never forget; it was from one of Outreach’s most prominent customers; she said, “You’ve changed yourself from a vendor and a tool to a partner.” That’s what every company wishes to hear from a customer.

Simplicity is the new black

The success of your marketing strategy will depend on the quality of data you’ve gained. In this particular case, if a company wants to define a target group, it needs to focus on customers’ shopping habits and embrace changes. Also, it should have all the members included while letting team leaders delegate tasks.

“I think we got very complex in comp plans sometimes where I want you to do 55 things. It was almost a bit of a death by a thousand cuts. Today, I think we’re trying to take a step back. It’s like, ‘How do I simplify?’ I want you to do two things, and I’m going to train you.”

Outreach is an excellent example of how (and why) companies should invest time in training their team. “We’ve redone all of our training with our team on how we focus on business value? How do we focus on outcomes? How do we focus on messaging at an executive level and up the front line and making sure we understand what they care about?”

Even BDRs and SDRs should talk about value. Setting up a meeting, as Anna explains, should start with, “We want to come in and help. Here are the challenges we see in your organization.”

A vendor-customer relationship should be based on mutual respect and trust because the bottom line is, you want to sell to people the way they want to buy.

 

This article is based on an episode of Sales Assembly’s podcast, Taking The Lead, which features top female B2B Tech Revenue Leaders, VCs, Advisors, and Icons. Bi-weekly episodes dive into a tactical topic to help listeners (regardless of gender or seniority level) learn how to be better, faster, and smarter as they navigate the craziness of the Revenue world within B2B Tech.