Selling in a Sustainable Economy? Lessons we've learned since 2020
Today, being sustainable is an integral part of staying relevant. Any business that fails to address this differentiator will do so at its own peril.
This approach could keep you ahead of the competition, catapulting you into the forefront of your average organization and giving you a level of credibility that many other businesses do not possess. Your moral grounding will show your customers what you stand for and what expectations they can have of you. Ultimately, this gives them the ability to align their vision with yours.
At StrategyBeyond, we have experienced the rise of Sustainability firsthand, as much of the work we do for our customers today happens to be in this space. The field is following a trajectory within a Hyper-Growth economics model - we believe the inflection point was in Q3 of 2020, and we now predict there will be 8-10 years of Hyper-Growth ahead of us.
When we started exploring this domain, we asked ourselves the following question:
Are sales in Sustainability different from those in other verticals?
Although the fundamental principles of B2B/ Enterprise sales still apply, the approach to be taken is quite different. Here is a summary of what we've learned:
1) Buyers don't buy what you are selling, so sell what they wish to buy.
Sustainability leaders have a different set of needs. Therefore, the focus of your sales process should be to adapt your value to what the individual leader wishes to buy.
2) Brands don't matter; only their ambassadors do.
Adopt a point of view that resonates with the individual rather than the organization, regardless of maturity. You should aim to satisfy the need of the ambassador – cure his or her pain point.
3) Unfortunately, cheaper wins; unless...
To ensure you will not be pressured into reducing prices, always present your solution as different from every other one in the space. Show your defensible unique selling proposition!
4) Time is your enemy; work faster.
Sustainability is NOT a saturated space. Mandates for change and buyer journeys have a very dynamic span. Seek to minimize the time between engagements with your buyer.
5) Buyers buy backward, so switch if you sell forwards!
Your buyer is not interested in your growth targets but rather is concerned with his or her own project implementation date. Therefore, match your sales process to fit your buyer's timing.
To make the sales process in the space approachable, we've divided it into four consequential steps:
This involves uncovering information on the leaders and earning your right to be considered a solution provider. It may include understanding current KPIs and how they play a role in achieving organizational goals, which leaders are likely to be involved in the projects, what their current pain point is, and how they have dealt with it before.
Once you understand who the leaders are and what their pain point is, break it down and match the value of your cure to the different elements making up that same pain. This essentially means co-creating the solution together with the leader.
The ONLY thing to keep in mind here is to talk about the WHY. What is the reason the leader should listen to you and care about what you have to say? Steer the conversation in the direction you want by highlighting the need rather than the features.
The standard practice for organizations is to compare between solutions and decide which is most cost-effective. Your goal is to partner up with the leaders in convincing their organization that your cure is unique. Sustain momentum by providing data, including facts, timeframes, and potentially demos.
We are in the midst of a silent revolution that can't be stopped: people are increasingly using sustainable power for personal and commercial use and creating new requirements for technology in years to come.
Five decades ago, who would have thought that a family could go on a road trip in their car without burning a drop of gasoline? Or that even untrained cyclists could tour the mountains? Or that pulling weeds could be a task for robots, not people? These are only three of many examples that show the influence of electric systems on our daily lives.
At StrategyBeyond, we work with customers in the Sustainability space. Our unique insight into B2B engagement allows us to combine commercial strategy and execution to deliver the best possible results. We drive profitable customer action through value. If you wish to learn more, feel free to reach out.