2021 Buyer Preferences Study: Reconnecting with buyers
Buyers are becoming harder to please, and sellers are failing to prove their value. Discover how sales organizations can overcome this gap.
Recent transformations in the market have put power squarely in the hands of buyers. As a result, the world revolves around buyers and their needs.
That means sellers have to work harder than ever to attract buyers and convince them to purchase — not just once but every time. To forge these lasting customer relationships, sellers must create a world-class customer experience that engages customers and keeps them coming back.
Here are three ways that sellers can strengthen their relationships with buyers and improve the customer experience.
Today, the buying process allows sellers to engage with buyers at multiple touchpoints — through websites, emails, and phone calls — and through multiple contacts, using inside sales, field sales, channel partners, or service representatives.
No matter the source of the contact, from filling out online marketing automation forms to delivering sales presentations and responding to service calls, every contact with a buyer must add value to create a world-class customer experience. Each contact should bring the buyer further into the sales funnel. And, for existing customers, each contact should deepen the relationship and open up opportunities for cross-selling and upselling.
To keep these interactions positive, sellers must keep buyers at the center of everything they do. Each touchpoint must be informed by — and designed to address — the buyers’ wants, needs, and challenges.
Given that 76% of sales organizations’ revenue currently comes from existing customers, you can’t stop wooing customers once you ink a deal. The courtship has to be ongoing.
Therefore, it’s critical to map out your customer’s path, from awareness to purchase to implementation and adoption. Your customer’s path is often iterative. So, the key is to identify all potential touchpoints for common scenarios, such as new customers asking for a quote, current customers considering whether to change solutions, or channel partners looking for service.
The next step is to create a framework that your customer-facing professionals can tailor to communicate your organization’s value to each buying influence and along each phase of the customer path.
By equipping all customer-facing roles with similar messages through training, coaching, and other tools, buyers will experience relevant, valuable, and differentiating interactions at each phase of their journey. Plus, your sellers will be able to maximize their sales quota attainment.
Buyers today wait longer to engage sellers in the purchase process. That means sales calls have become harder to secure.
Regardless of a call’s length, sellers need to be certain about two things in order to deliver a world-class customer experience. First, they need to confirm that they have planned a valuable outcome for every call. Second, they must establish next steps with messages tailored to individual buying influences and focused on the prospect’s point in the customer path.
Additionally, sellers need to be prepared to share any relevant content, including product sheets, case studies, and blogs with buyers. They also need to be ready to answer questions and provide advice.
Having the skills to conduct actionable sales calls takes time. So, sellers should be armed with a repeatable approach and sales methodology that adds value. Sales organizations that follow a consistent approach to sales calls have win rates 21% higher than their peers, according to our 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study.
When buyer budgets tighten, only the strongest relationships will survive. But it’s hard to evaluate the strength of your customer relationships in a vacuum.
That’s why we developed an innovative way to measure the strength of sales processes and buyer-seller relationships: the Sales Relationship Process Matrix. This matrix divides sellers into five groups. From weakest to strongest, those groups are approved vendors, preferred suppliers, solutions consultants, strategic contributors and trusted partners.
Sellers at the most basic level, approved vendors, offer no clear competitive advantage over their peers. Approved vendors are likely to be the first ones cut from their buyer’s roster of providers. Those who have risen to the level of strategic contributors and trusted partners have a unique understanding of the buyer’s company and industry. Given their knowledge, they’re able to offer meaningful solutions to the buyer’s challenges — and are likely to have greater staying power.
To create these lasting relationships and provide a world-class customer experience, sellers must be able to offer perspective — an invaluable tandem of mindset, insight, and experience that can help buyers more clearly understand their problems and achieve their goals.
Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why it’s critical for organizations to future-proof themselves by starting their sales transformation now — before the next crisis.
One pillar of future-proofing is following the three steps listed above. Building a culture that delivers a world-class customer experience can help you retain your customer base, regardless of the financial climate.
For more steps that you can take to build a culture that supports a world-class customer experience, contact us today. And to learn where you fall on the Sales Relationship Process Matrix, take our Sales Performance Meter diagnostic.