What you'll learn

  • What the buyer apathy loop is—and how to break the cycle
  • How to take a perspective-based selling approach
  • How a sales analytics tool can amplify your sales methodology

The work-from-anywhere world has altered nearly every facet of business — and sales is no exception. Sales teams are dispersed, selling is more virtual, customers have different expectations and retaining high-performing talent is more difficult than ever before.

These major shifts have had a domino effect, turning virtually every aspect of the sales organization on its head. As a result, it should come as no surprise that sales performance has suffered. The challenges of selling virtually, combined with longer buying cycles and shifts in the buying process, mean that sellers must follow a more difficult path than ever when making the sale.

What’s worrisome is that, aside from virtual selling, these problems aren’t new. Neither is the decline in seller performance. Overall sales performance has been declining since our Sales Performance Study. The rate of sellers who have met or exceeded their sales quota dropped to a low of 53% in 2017 — and it hovers around the same level today.

As a result, sales teams are feeling the pressure to perform. But that’s challenging when sales organizations are still trying to adapt outdated sales processes and technology to a new, more complex world of selling.

The current state of sales

Without the expertise of the seller to lead the buying journey, buyers often don’t get the solution they truly need. The buying journey today often treats sellers as an afterthought, as buyers now prefer to embark on a self-guided journey where sellers serve as a passenger rather than the driver of the sales decision.

How did this come to be? It’s part of what is called the buyer apathy loop.

Buyers engage sellers late in the sales process, after they’ve already relied on other sources of information to make their purchase decision. In fact, our research shows that buyers consult eight other sources — including trade shows, vendor websites and web searches — before even contacting a seller. And more than half of buyers (57%) prefer to reach out to sellers after they’ve made their choice.

This late engagement means sellers lose opportunities to connect with buyers during the two stages in the buyer’s journey when they can exert the most influence: awareness and consideration. As a result, sellers never have a chance to exceed their buyer’s expectations. In our 2021 Buyer Preferences Study, six times more buyers said they found no value in conversations with sellers, as compared to our 2018 study.

When buyers aren’t wowed by sellers, their belief that sellers don’t add value is confirmed. And they see no reason to engage a seller earlier in the sales process.

Fortunately, a sales methodology can bridge this growing gap between buyers and sellers.

Reach buyers earlier with a consistent sales methodology

A sound, repeatable sales methodology is the key to sellers breaking the apathy loop and engaging with buyers earlier in their journey.

A sales methodology supports sellers by providing the “how to” and “why” that creates the best outcome at each stage of the buyer’s journey.

Buyers are willing to engage sellers earlier in four circumstances, according to our 2021 Buyer Preferences Study:

  1. When the buying decision is risky for the organization
  2. When they’re facing a new challenge
  3. When a buying decision is complex
  4. When the buying decision is risky for the buyer

In these four scenarios, sellers need to be prepared to take action so they can break the apathy loop. But that requires a new way of selling based on perspective.

Take a perspective-based selling approach

Perspective is knowledge or insight that helps your buyer understand their business challenges. Typically, perspective falls into one of four categories: introducing an unrecognized problem, suggesting an alternative solution, revealing an unseen opportunity, or serving as an expert in addressing organizational capability gaps. In every form, perspective compels the buyer to move forward to the next stage of the buying journey.

As a result in every interaction sellers must be ready to deliver an experience, not just information. Perspective requires in-depth research that allows sellers to truly know their buyer. And the delivery of perspective must be purposeful, concise and compelling enough to influence a purchase based on the buyer’s decision-making style.

Sales Effectiveness

Breakthrough to immediate, predictable & sustainable sales effectiveness

Use sales technology to amplify the impact of sales methodology

Sales technology plays a critical role in managing complex sales cycles. But you can’t simply invest in every sales technology and expect your results to skyrocket. Technology isn’t a whole solution; it’s a complement to sales processes.

Take, for example, the CRM. Few sellers think their CRM makes them more productive because they perceive it as a system that just records sales information. In fact, most think it takes time away from selling activities.

But layering in sales analytics turns the CRM into a powerful prediction machine. Combined with a tool like the Korn Ferry Intelligence Cloud, your CRM can guide sellers, showing them how to increase the likelihood of a sale so they can improve their win rates and overall sales performance.

A sales analytics tool like the Intelligence Cloud can:

  • Improve selling behaviors: Sales methodology is a key factor in superior sales performance. Innovative sales analytics platforms increase the adoption of your organization’s sales methodology by closely connecting methodology to selling activities.
  • Drive seller actions: The last thing sellers need is more raw data. Instead, they need data-driven insights that will inform their selling activities. Sales analytics platforms provide sellers with suggestions for specific actions they can take to improve deal outcomes. This drives deals forward and enables sales managers and sales leaders to replicate winning sales behaviors and boost sales effectiveness across the entire team.
  • Improve technology adoption: A CRM is only valuable if the entire sales team uses it. Adding an advanced sales analytics platform to your CRM encourages tech adoption rates because sales teams view technology as a necessary resource for selling rather than an administrative burden.

Break through buyer apathy to sustainable revenue growth

With Korn Ferry Intelligence Cloud, your sales team has the flexibility to fulfill any definition of “sales transformation” — driving impact today while setting the stage for growth tomorrow.

The Intelligence Cloud combines best-in-class sales methodology with 5 billion data points of people intelligence to drive sales performance. You’ll have the right people in the right roles with the right training. You’ll reinforce your sales methodology at the right point in the buyer’s journey. And, as a result, you’ll take your sales performance to new heights.

To learn more about the buyer apathy loop and the current buyer’s journey, download our 2021 Buyer Preferences Study. To start learning how to move deals forward quickly to boost your organization's sales performance, contact our experts today.