How to win customers the right way

Help your customer to buy — don’t wrestle them into submission!

In a recent post I talked about how important focusing in on the right buyer is to a B2B company, in this post I’ll talk about how you can develop your sales process to serve that buyer by helping them to buy from you.

I have a belief that the sales process itself can and indeed should be a part of your value proposition, it should be valued in and of itself by your customers. Can you think of a recent buying decision that you have made that was helped and supported in some way by the seller that added value to you? It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does it is powerful, the buyer feels great and is very likely to talk positively to peers about the experience (word of mouth referrals are the best marketing you can get). On the converse of this, can you think of a recent buying situation where the process was painful and you felt that the seller was only interested in your money and not in helping you to solve a problem? Unfortunately this happens all too often and it’s usually because the seller hasn’t matched their sales process to the buyers buying process.

The first step to developing a customer-centric sales process is to really understand your buyer (I talked about this in a previous post). The next step is to understand their buying process, by that I mean really understand each and every action or decision point that is required for them to make the buying decision. This process obviously starts with awareness of your solution and ends with a purchase order or a payment transaction of some description, but the really interesting and useful stuff happens in between and that’s what you need to understand and map, e.g some examples of the top of a buying process map might look like this.

  • Buyer feels a pain
  • Buyer researches a solution for that pain, or
  • Buyer becomes aware of your product/service via marketing and it resonates
  • Buyer wants to learn more about your product and your company
  • Buyer wants to understand who else is using your product and what their experiences are
  • Buyer wants to see the product in action
  • Buyer wants to feel the product in action
  • Etc

There might well be a hundred or more steps to the full buying process map that you create, in my experience you cant get into too much detail, in fact it’s the detail that will help you really focus your sales process on each individual step of your buyers buying process. And it’s this process of matching your selling process to your buyers buying process that will create a fantastically smooth experience for your buyer and deliver a true customer-centric sales process.

Once you understand the buying process in detail you can then consider for each step what you as a company can do to address that particular step of the buyers journey. You can think about what would help to motivate the buyer to move forward or deeper into your funnel, what information might they require to move to the next step, what concerns might they have at this point, and then you provide that information to the buyer at the natural point to further motivate or to address their concerns. If you get this right your sales process should feel very natural to the buyer as they are given useful and relevant information at the right point and not before.

Its also very important that you measure how all of your leads flow through this sales process and you can do that by using tools like SFDC. You can measure conversion rates and drop off rates, you can capture the reasons for the drop offs, and you can automate large parts of the process too. The more automation that you have, the more scalable your process becomes.

Its also important to ensure that each of the actions that you are taking in your sales process to address your customers buying process has a clear owner and that owner is measured and ideally compensated for the success of that action. The conversion rates within your process become clear KPI’s and improvement of these KPI’s become targets. Ill write about this in a follow up post too.

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