Nearly everyone who markets or sells products or services has been trained to use features and functions in B2B sales as their primary selling method. 

Unfortunately, Power’s (the decision-maker at a company) pain points rarely align with your features and functions. In fact, those items usually only work with middle managers and users, neither of whom has the authority to buy.

Instead, you get caught in a continuous selling and reselling cycle where the manager sponsors you to the executive or, worse, tries to sell your solution themselves to the executive. 

Selling using features and functions in B2B sales instead of Power’s pain points is the primary reason sales cycles are so long and unpredictable.

Don’t work your way up. Start with Power to streamline the sales process and achieve high close rates.

Start and Stay with Power (The Decision Maker)

Begin your sales process by determining the executive-level pain points your solution can address. You need to think like Power because Power doesn’t generally think about features and functions. Power is much more concerned about high-level business issues. 

You must identify these business issues and find a way to align your solution that makes sense at that level. Power has the Power to buy, and you need to make the value of your offering clear. The Zebra way of selling (only selling to your ideal customers) is only valid when you identify Power’s pain points in prospective accounts.

Sample Power Pain Points

Once you look through this list, you’ll begin to understand what we mean by higher-level business issues and executive pain points.

  • Competitive advantage and innovation
  • Increasing profits
  • Increasing brand value
  • Addressing customer-initiated change
  • Increasing customer loyalty
  • Addressing industry-initiated change
  • Optimizing the use of existing assets
  • Responding rather than reacting to competitive pressure
  • Improving efficiency
  • Exceeding industry growth
  • Improving compliance and reducing risk
  • Improve visibility and control
  • Improving stock prices and market cap (in public companies)

Consider increasing brand value. Brand value is a tough metric to measure but extremely valuable when you accomplish it.

What is a customer or industry-initiated change? A customer-initiated change might be two-day delivery of the product instead of two weeks. Industry-initiated changes include online B2B connections to suppliers, improved accuracy, reduced cost, and quicker cycle-time for deliveries.

Responding to competitive pressure means leapfrogging the competition, not just keeping up when they make innovations.

Speaking the Language of Power

Power’s pain points are so much higher-level than middle management, and it’s almost like speaking another language. Normally, Power tends to speak in the abstract instead of features and functions. 

The pain points of Power are difficult to accomplish or prove your offering can achieve them. Ask this question of your company and solution:

“How does my solution help my customer address issues like competitive advantage or increasing brand value?”

If you can’t answer that question, you can’t prove your value to Power.

The Zebra Process Builds from Power’s Pain Points

The Zebra method requires you to identify Power’s pain points upfront. Then you begin to understand how to sell to your ideal prospects. It’s the crucial key to success for those who chase their ideal customers.

Focusing on Power’s pain points impacts every step of the sales cycle. Also, your sales organization should not consider the sales process completely finished until the customer achieves the value you promised by addressing those higher-level pain points.

Proving Value to Power

To sell to Power, you must prove your value. Know from the outset what Power’s pain points are. Then ensure your proposal aligns to address them. Constantly measure and report progress toward those goals and show Power you are moving forward.

Once the prospect becomes a customer, understand that you are not done until you have helped Power achieve the goals of overcoming pain points. Only then will Power authorize the purchase of your solution.

A Free Tool To Help

To help show power your value, you need to be able to show him/her what you’ve done for other companies. That is where having a voice of the customer case study is important. 

We have a free e-book on that topic here.


Selling to Power is the Zebra way. Power’s pain points are too abstract and high-level to be answered with features and functions. 

Identify Power’s pain points and show how your solution solves them. Stay the course until the customer achieves the value you promised. For the next post, we discuss how Power’s pain points are different from those of middle management and users.

If you want to dive deeper into this idea, we have an excellent audiobook called Selling to Zebras. 

For a limited time, we are offering it free to help B2B companies increase their average deal size. Email info@zebrafi.com, and we will send you the code!

Other posts you may enjoy:

  1. AI in B2B Sales
  2. What Does Power Care About? (Sell to Power’s Pain Points)
  3. Forecasting Using the Z Score

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