By Neil Smith
Premise: you might think that b2b customers care most about the product and price but what if all they are really expecting is a great sales experience? Are your sales rep then getting their tactics right?
In more cases than not your sales reps represent your company’s first line of contact with prospective customers. Naturally you would want them to get their basics right. Customers don’t like being bombarded with questions and ideally want to be contacted just enough number of times. They also expect their reps to know the products or services being sold inside out. This also involves understanding competition and having a clear picture of where your own service or product is placed viz a viz others in the market.
In a survey conducted by Mckinsey involving over 1000 decision makers in companies across US and Europe who were responsible for buying hi tech services and products one key finding stood out. Price is a big concern but a great sales experience is the most important factor!
What’s more striking is that these insights are across complex product and service categories that apply to most b2b industries where a multi-touch sales process is the norm.
One key gap area identified was the difference between what customers said mattered to them vs. what actually influenced their behavior. Customers often cited price and product as key buying factors yet when they were asked to grade vendors on overall performance, product features and overall sales experience were the two factors which mattered. Getting these two elements right can have a increase in your sales by around 8-15 percentage points assuming you have a high performing sales force to get the job done.
On the other side, of the many habits that hamper sales experience, two in particular stand out (accounting for around 55% of all kinds of destructive behavior in sales). These two are:
- Inadequate product knowledge
- Contacting customers too frequently (only 3% of decision makers said they weren’t contacted enough)
Fortunately these two habits are easy to fix. A centralized technical content creation and dispersion system can help you standardize messages and value propositions for customers. On job coaching and sales call reviews can help your reps learn during their productive time. Also customers are more than willing to access self help online tools and tap sales support only when they encounter a highly complex problem.
In order to balance too much and too little communication you would have to understand your buyers behavior a bit more. You need to have a clear understanding of their perceived and actual needs. We have found that some of the best sales teams are the ones which are effectively able to leverage a contact calendar centered around events that create customer value. As an example for a financial software company the Q1 of financial period might represent the best months to do business. Just remember any contact that you have with your prospects should be meaningful.
All in all you need to identify what drives the sales experience for your customer base. How do they perceive your sales team and processes when compared with your competitors? Knowing these basics will help you rectify gaps if any in the sales experience provided by your company.
Happy Selling! Feel free to leave your thoughts with us via comments below.