If you don’t know your buyer, you’re going to struggle to make the sale.

If you can’t put yourself in your colleagues’ shoes in marketing, it will be impossible to align.

And if you can’t create a culture of inclusivity on your sales team, you miss out on a range of diverse perspectives that would strengthen your business.

In this episode of the Winning The Challenger Sale podcast, we speak with Lori Richardson, CEO and Founder of Score More Sales, about her career-long advocacy for inclusivity in sales and what she has learned about building more empathetic and understanding sales teams.

We discuss:

  • Why understanding your buyer is the key to differentiation and beating the competition
  • How sales and marketing can better understand one another and work towards shared goals
  • What sales leaders need to understand about fostering a culture of inclusivity

Listen to “#61 Win More Deals With Buyer Empathy & Diverse Sales Teams” on Spreaker.

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Differentiating through an intrinsic understanding of your buyer

You’ll never be able to sell to your buyer, let alone relate to them, if you don’t understand their pain points, desired outcomes, and business needs. While knowing your buyer is the foundation of any good sales team (or any team for that matter), it’s evidently lacking in today’s world.

A quick glance at your email will prove that companies aren’t aligning and targeting their buyer’s needs: How many emails are sitting in your inbox, miles away from aligning with anything even close to what you’re looking for or demonstrating any understanding of who you are? (Cue Show Me You Know Me from the #samsales team!)

According to Lori, establishing an intensive understanding and knowledge of your buyer will put you above the vast majority of your competition.

“Learn about your customer’s challenges and think about their future challenges. What will happen if they keep the status quo?” she says. “We focus too much on the product. We need more intensive focus on the buyer.”

By the time a customer reaches out to sales, they are typically over 50% of the way through the buying process, which means they are interested in your services and have at least a baseline understanding of who you are.

You shouldn’t be spending your first call with a buyer touting your features and benefits.

You should instead spend that time demonstrating a deep understanding of the customer and the problems they’re likely facing based on your conversation with numerous other stakeholders and companies like theirs.

Want to go the extra mile? Learn enough about a prospect’s company to teach them something new about their business or challenge them to shift their mindset.

Developing an intrinsic understanding of your buyers is critical to sales, but it should also be prioritized cross-functionally. Marketing should target the same buyer pain points and desires as sales and product teams.

Increasing synergy between sales and marketing

Tension between sales and marketing can be healthy if balanced. Good tension can help propel both teams forward and encourage better performance.

But all too often, this tension can elevate to a struggle that ultimately decreases both teams’ effectiveness and efficiency.

Lori understands this balance well, and as a sales professional, invests significant time in growing and developing her marketing repertoire.

“People need to put themselves in someone else’s shoes,” she says. “It’s clear that sales, marketing, and customer success all go hand in hand. They all need to talk more together.”

One tip from Lori: Have you ever thought about compensating all teams, not just sales, based on performance?

While sales commissions are common, most companies don’t think to provide sales incentives to product and marketing teams, even though they arguably have just as significant an impact on the sales pipeline.

In Lori’s experience, offering a system of compensation based on success for all team members increases collaboration and fuels success.

What sales leaders can do to foster a culture of inclusivity

Diversity and inclusion are tied to tangible business benefits.

Unfortunately, women are the most underrepresented in sales when compared to all other departments, which only decreased further with the effects of COVID.

“Buyers look different, too,” Lori says. “We need to make sure we have a diverse sales team to meet with diverse buyers.”

But building inclusivity is easier said than done. With women and BIPOC heavily underrepresented in many different industries and roles, mass change needs to happen before our sales cultures can truly become inclusive. That change won’t come without the right conversations.

“If we’re underrepresented at every level, we should be talking about it. A video, brief discussion, in person—we need to get comfortable talking about gender and race,” Lori says.

By opening the conversation, incorporating diverse viewpoints, and putting a spotlight—not a shroud—on the problem, inclusion can become a more significant part of the business function at its core.

Listen to our full conversation with Lori on the most recent episode of the Winning the Challenger Sale podcast to learn more about understanding your customers on a truly meaningful level, building inclusion and diversity into the culture of your business, and more.

To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the Winning The Challenger Sale podcast on our website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or just search for it in your favorite podcast player.

Andee Harris

Andee Harris is CEO of Challenger. Andee brings more than two decades of experience growing and scaling service and technology businesses. She has previously led multiple companies, both as CEO and Senior Vice President, through periods of rapid revenue growth, critical fundraising, and successful acquisition. These companies include Highground (acquired by Vista Equity Partners), TMBC (acquired by ADP), Syndio and Emerging Solutions (acquired by Emtec).