In recent years, buyers are noticeably changing their decision-making processes. How are these changes impacting sales teams, and how can sales leaders help their teams tailor the buyer and customer experience to address these changes? Keep reading for insight from our panel of sales leaders.
How are changes in buyer decision-making impacting sales teams?
More stakeholders are involved:
With more stakeholders involved in decision-making, the process can take longer. To cut down on this time, sales teams must know the relevant key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics for each member of the decision-making team, including the C-suite. For example, the CFO will care about the return on investment and overall value created for the organization, while the COO will care about the ease of operation, training requirements for the organization, and the support offered. Sales professionals must understand and speak the language of each stakeholder, presenting appropriate data to convince each.
Business case is expected early in the buyer relationship:
The decision-making process truly begins before buyers speak to a sales professional. To catch buyers at the beginning of the decision-making process, your product or solution must be marketed digitally so buyers know you are an option. Beyond general marketing, you must provide a differentiated buying experience by tailoring each offer to meet the unique needs of a particular buyer. Once the engagement with the buyer starts, providing a business case on the front end is often a requirement to create priority for your offering and secure funding.
Buyers focus on value created:
Speaking the language of the key stakeholders and focusing on value created yields a sales process that is less transactional. Offering a generic sales pitch about your product or solution will not create the value-focused engagement to differentiate your engagement with the buyer. Each pitch must be tailored to each decision maker and include an understanding of their business, KPIs and desired outcomes. In many cases, buyers will want to see and experience the solution, so positioning proof of concepts when the buyer demonstrates appropriate commitment to the process can be a powerful way to deliver on this desire to experience the solution. As buyers focus on value, you must prove value by creating a differentiated buying experience.
In light of these changes, how can we as sales leaders help our teams engage effectively with buyers?
Focus on data:
With the focus on building the business case on the front end, sales teams must collect the right data to prove business outcomes. Educate your teams on the key value points of your solution as well as how to collect the right data to support estimating potential value. Ensure your teams have use case scenarios with supporting quantitative and qualitative data from past customer deployments. With the right outcome-focused data identified on the front end, collect quantitative and qualitative outcome data by surveying clients for feedback before, during and after solution deployment. In this way, sales teams are now connected more closely to customer outcomes, creating a greater accountability for the customer results after the sale. Alignment with the buyer’s KPIs during negotiations, contracting and deployment ties your team’s success to the buyer’s success. As you want your teams to most effectively engage around outcome data, train your sales teams to be conversational around business outcomes, not just analyzing data. This requires a new and different skill set that is critical to presenting data to clients so they are informed of the business outcome delivered through your solutions.
Focus on customer experience:
Focus on customer experience across the customer engagement, from landing an opportunity, to gaining adoption, to expansion, to renewal. How you respond when something goes wrong is more important than how you sell. Respond efficiently and effectively to every issue the customer encounters across the customer engagement. Communication with the buyer as well as communication across your customer-facing team is critical when the buyer experiences challenges in adoption or on-going use of the solution. Buyers expect hiccups with a new solution, but they also expect effective customer service. To streamline response time, define and timeline the hand off between sales and customer success teams so that everyone knows who is responsible for each aspect of the overall customer engagement. Our experience is that creating clarity in roles and responsibilities across the customer engagement can be supported through a customer engagement play book as organizations look to scale a customer success team. Hand-offs and interlocks can be clarified across customer engagement roles from sales to customer success and plays can be defined for adoption, expansion and renewal. Plan the timing of interactions and create a cadence of engagement with the customer that is based on capturing and sharing outcomes.
Focus on sales and customer success enablement:
Your sales and customer success professionals need the right knowledge and skills for interacting with multiple stakeholders across the full customer engagement. Identify required skills by developing a success profile for the roles aligned with the full customer engagement. This may require additional focus on training to build skills for effective engagement across multiple stakeholder roles. Leveraging digital training content for knowledge and strategic use of in-person learning for skill development and application can provide a high impact learning approach. Your sales and customer success teams must speak the customer’s language and understand their individual KPIs. For example, in a business environment where buyers are looking to manage cash outlays, educate your sellers on financing strategies, moving their expertise from big transaction sales to monthly payment or cash flow focused sales strategies.
If changes in buyer and customer decision making are affecting your sales or customer success teams- SOAR Performance Group Playbooks and skills training focused on Customer Outcomes and Value Creation can help. To learn more: Email email@example.com for a SOAR Session to explore how SOAR capabilities can help your teams engage differently to develop, win and grow new opportunities. Or visit our website to read previous blogs on Value Creation Selling.