We need to stop focusing on making it easier for our sales reps to sell and instead focus on making it easier for our prospects to buy. Understanding and improving a prospect’s experience throughout the new buying process is critical to success.
How the Buying Process Changed
Years ago, teaching our sales reps “solution selling” was the road to success. The sales reps could act as industry experts and inform customers about the comprehensive solution to their problem—our service/product. This worked because customers had few reliable alternatives with which to educate themselves on products or industry trends. Sales people served as the gatekeepers of that information and so they were invaluable to the customers. Then the internet’s influence turned that buying process upside down.
Now customers do extensive research before speaking with a salesperson. When they do speak to the sales rep, they are already very close to a decision and just want to know final details or pricing.
We Must Disrupt the Buyer's Thinking
Because prospects are not reaching out to our sales reps until the later stages of their decision-making, we must find a way to engage with them earlier than they would feel necessary. This is done by disrupting their developing framework. Your sales reps’ new role is going to be to introduce risks that need to be mitigated, new opportunities to take advantage of, and to encourage other engagements of interest to stimulate the sharing of feedback. All of this needs to remain consistent across all sales reps—regardless of personal style. This will position your sales reps as helpful advisors who the buyer will start to trust and will turn to first when they are ready to buy.
How Do We Do This?
Implementing an effective sales process is a necessity. It must create disruptive engagement and consistently deliver an experience of value. We need to ensure that we are helpful, that we are building trust, that we uncover interests and needs so that we can align relevant content and strategy.
To create a consistent experience we need to consider:
- How many attempts are to be made to contact the lead and how many days apart.
- The voicemail messages that will be left.
- The emails to be sent.
- The call script.
- Objection handling.
- The discovery process. Needs, interests, buying factors, timing and how do we best respond to them.
We also need to ensure we can measure key success metrics and define a process for continuous improvement.
Insights for an Improved Buying Process
The insights your sales reps gather from their calls and meetings are key to continue improving the buying process. Standardize these. Rate their importance. Map out the most common responses and the best way to use them in nurturing the prospect from earlier to later pipeline stages.
This data can then be summarized and used as input for sales effectiveness management. You will be able to understand why specific opportunities are not developing and the keys to success in others. You will be able to pinpoint roadblocks to each rep’s success very quickly and help them to dramatically improve.