Shifting the sales conversation: why you need empathy + value right now

Posted June 25, 2021

By Anna Baird

Chief Revenue Officer at Outreach

We’ve experienced 10 years of change over the course of a single year – or, at least, that’s what it feels like.

The pandemic changed the way people shop for and buy technology. It’s changed how they budget for that technology. And, critically, it’s changed the way they want to have sales conversations.

So, what does that mean for how sellers sell? How can revenue teams make shifts that are consistent with buyers’ needs?

Pivot Your Messaging to Meet Buyers Where They Are

It’s time to pivot our messaging to align with buyer’s needs.

We’ve seen the window shrink on business outlook. Instead of a five-year outlook, businesses started looking at their 90- and 120-day strategy. That’s a drastic shift. As a seller, you need to demonstrate recognition and understanding of what’s happening in your buyer's organization, and then tailor your messaging to align to that.

If you’re still talking about features and functionality, that's likely a no-go for today’s buyer. They are looking for a different type of conversation.

For example, a previous offer might have sounded like, “Let us come in and show you a demo of how our product accomplishes XYZ.” Even with a slight shift, how sellers present their value can do a lot to match buyer expectations. So instead, it may be articulated as “I’d like to invite you and your team to collaborate with our experts and devise a plan that achieves your goals.”

In a nutshell, it’s about making the shift to outcome-driven conversations.

Outreach CRO Anna Baird put it best in a recent conversation with Christina Brady, President of Sales Assembly: “[Buyers] have to invest in things that have outcomes. How are you talking about time to value of your product? How are you talking about outcomes?”

When considering how to better position your product or service, you could ask questions like:

  • What is it that we can do to help this buyer right now?
  • What is our time to value?
  • How do we articulate that differently than maybe we have before?

Empathy in a Collaborative Buying and Selling Experience

"When you talk about how buyers want to buy, you have to understand their strategy." That spot-on point from Anna uncovers the truth of the matter.

Sellers are under a lot of pressure, but your buyers are too. They have the weight of buying the best solution with even more of a limited budget. On top of that, they have more stakeholders than ever who they must pitch and ask for approval of a new investment. And now, CFOs are involved in nearly every discussion.

Buyers want sellers to be empathetic to that pressure. With the focus on short-term outlook, buyers are asking themselves questions like, “What is my organization saying that is critical?” and “Are you helping me address that?”

“If [your buyer’s] 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. That's what their personal success is tied to as well as their company's success,” Anna noted.

That empathy translates into helping buyers help themselves. It’s the type of activities the best sellers have been doing all along but is really punctuated at this moment in time.

It’s a greater collaboration with your buyers. It’s giving them the tools they need to pitch internally. It’s getting a mutual action plan that gets to the results you both want.

Continue the Dialogue about Empathy in Sales

What’s covered above is just a dip into the insights Anna and Christina shared in their discussion on the Taking the Lead podcast.

If you want to catch the entire episode, listen here now. You’ll hear more about how sellers can embrace change, take risks, and be seen as more than just a vendor, but a true partner to customers.


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