Coming out of the pandemic, retailers are still managing clogged supply chains, struggling to maintain a workforce, and racing to keep up with inflation. While their customers are chasing the latest trends and the best shopping experience, retail enterprises are looking for flexible, scalable technology that helps them attract and keep consumers’ loyalty. A successful sales account planning strategy targeting the retail sector should be driven by buyer values, pivotal pain points, and targeted intelligence. Otherwise, your planning may miss the mark, waste time, and drag out the sales process.
Define the Account’s Pain Points as They Relate to the Customer Base
Retailers are constantly thinking about how to attract and keep customers. Today’s consumers are looking for an engaging but secure experience, the ability to buy on credit, and seamless shopping across channels. Customers also have many more choices today, and they’re used to controlling what they buy, where they buy it, and how they want it delivered.
Work with an industry expert or your account contacts to detail their ideal shopper, what they want from the retailer, and what they’re not getting today. Then plan how you can frame your thought leadership against the ideal customer’s experience.
Uncover the Account’s Buying Committee
While in the past, retailers often had informal purchasing processes, the impact of COVID-19 forced most companies toward a more rigid formula. In addition, buying committees have grown. As a result, your account planning in the retail sector has to consider non-technical influencers as well as the IT department, CIO, and CISO.
As you connect with non-technical buyers, you’ll need to understand their personas. For example, learn how they prefer to engage with vendors and the steps they take prior to engagement. Do they work with internal IT people to understand the project before engaging with your team or do they need some background to catch up? Take the time during account planning to answer essential questions about each buyer:
- How does each buyer like to receive information?
- What level of detail is each buyer interested in?
- What proof of your claims do they value most? (Many retailers want to see data and solid ROI calculations.)
- How do they prefer to manage virtual meetings?
Remember that the buying committee is a group of personalities who interact and influence each other. It’s important to understand the power dynamics and culture of the group before
you engage with them. Assess how the business and IT work together on technical projects. How much influence does the business have and what do they need from your team to feel comfortable with your solution? It helps to have a champion or good contact with an understanding of the corporate power structure to help you map relationships during account planning.
Assess the Current Technology
Retailers are fairly quick adopters of technology but are often left with a mix of legacy and modern systems, on-premise and cloud services. Many retailers have homegrown legacy systems that are outdated but too integral to the business to risk replacing (and too expensive). As a prospective vendor, be prepared to work with what they have and chip away at it, replacing small pieces where you can.
Ensure your account planning in the retail sector illustrates how the current tech stack drives their priorities for new systems. In other words, the starting point will dictate how they reach their technical goals.
Don’t forget that part of the tech stack is the people who operate it. Deloitte research suggests that retailers will be fighting to maintain a full workforce for IT and analytics. If your solution requires new skills or extra IT staff over the long term, consider offering training, providing those services yourself, or partnering with a company who can bridge the labor gap.
Hunt Up Hidden Objections
You’ve got the obvious objections handled. Now’s the time to find the unexpected sales objections. For example, assess the account’s attitude toward technology. More conservative retailers might be less likely to adopt some innovations like voice-driven shopping because they’re not ready to accept the risk of newer solutions.
Also, determine how buyers view your offering and brand reputation prior to engagement. The sales team may need to address non-technical concerns, such as how easy you are to work with or how responsive your services group is. It’s not always easy to see these covert objections, so don’t be afraid to ask an insider or your champion for the real story. With a good understanding during account planning, you can disarm many of these issues early in the sales process.
Position Your Solution Against the Needs of Their Consumers
Leaning on your fine-grained knowledge of an account’s business and technical environments, you can draw a clear path from deploying your technology to attracting and keeping more shoppers. As you do, highlight the technical advantages they most need, such as flexibility, adaptability, or integration with legacy systems. And illustrate how the solution supports near and long-term business priorities, such as facilitating additional revenue streams or enhancing data security for multi-channel transactions.
Round Out Account Planning in The Retail Sector With Engagements That Move Sales Forward
With your homework behind you, plan account interactions that start sellers off on the right foot, stir up meaningful dialog, and get buyers and sellers in sync. Input from your champions will help you align with the buying process and provide the right approach to each engagement.
For presentations and demos, base your agendas on how formal or informal the company likes to be. Plan to provide the details, proof, and demonstrations that are appropriate at each point in the buying journey and customized to the account’s use cases. Prepare to connect buyers with the people they’ll respond to best. For example, some buyers want to talk with technical people; others want the big picture from a business point of view. It’s a good idea to have your champion review messaging and meeting objectives to ensure they match expectations and reflect the voice of the buyer.
Get the Right Account Planning Intelligence Fast with the Inside Track
Having a detailed, nuanced view of your buyers’ goals, preferences, and business needs makes the difference between an effective account plan and one that leaves sellers to feel their way through the deal without much guidance. However, it can take immense amounts of work and time to get to that level of understanding.
That’s why you need an experienced champion, like an Emissary Advisor, on your team. Emissary Advisors have recently left technology leadership roles at the retail accounts you’re targeting. They know the people you need to talk to and what those people want to hear from you. They’ll help you identify the motivations behind each step in the process, trace the power dynamics of the buying committee, craft a meaningful message, and communicate it successfully.
With account planning informed by the intelligence and buyer insight of Emissary Advisors, you’ll have the right strategy to capture attention and build momentum toward a successful retail deal.