What do you think of when you hear the words “Sales Enablement“? It would be quite natural to think of the muscle and force that your good looking sales people dish out, quota numbers and number of leads in the pipeline.
Companies who truly appreciate the power of the internet, search engines and authority are best positioned to take advantage of the benefits of discovery and how the sales process has changed in the advent of smart phones, tablets and easier access to information.
Lean in, and I will explain how some smart insights from a study by McKinsey & Co support this, and give you three ways to improve your sales funnel in the digital ecosystem.
No qualms about it…when you think about building valuable relationships with clients, your sales team are critical players on the front lines. But are the sales guys getting the basics right? Your customer want to be contacted just enough, not spammed to death. Your sales team should know your products or services comprehensively and how your business’s offer measures up with those of their competitors.
Clients need information on exactly how a product or service will make them more successful. And while they may say price is one of their biggest concerns a satisfying sales experience is ultimately or greater importance.
In 2010 McKinsey & Co conducted a survey of more than twelve hundred purchasing decision makers in small, medium, and large companies throughout the USA and Europe who are responsible for buying high-tech products.
The insights were consistent across simple to complex products and apply readily to most B2B organisations which also have robust, layered sales processes involving both those who will use the product and purchasing managers.
McKinsey’s report identifies that there is a big difference between what customers said was important and what actually drove their behaviour. The report also stated the following “Customers insisted price and product aspects were the dominant factors that influenced their opinion of a supplier’s performance and, as a result, their purchasing decisions.
Yet when we examined what actually determined how customers rated a vendor’s overall performance, the most important factors were product or service features and the overall sales experience. The upside of getting these two elements right is significant: a primary supplier seen as having a high-performing sales force can boost its share of a customer’s business by an average of 8 to 15 percentage points.”
That makes the next finding most remarkable. Of the many habits that undermine the sales experience, two that are relatively easy to fix accounted for 55% of the behaviour customers described as “most destructive”: Failing to have adequate product knowledge and contacting customers too frequently. Only 3% said they weren’t contacted enough, suggesting customers are open to less frequent but more relevant communication.
Both destructive habits are not irreparable. B2B businesses can address a lack of product knowledge by centralising content development to guarantee a uniform message and creation of compelling value propositions for customers. To ensure deep understanding, those in your sales department can receive experiential training and on-the-job coaching, preferably side by side with those crafting the stories in your business. Finally, sales reps don’t need to know everything.
When it comes to specifics, the McKinsey report found customers were more than happy to use self-serve or online tools and will in fact self educate on your offer.
Recently one of our clients received complaints on their Facebook page for nagging prospects and making too many sales calls for those in their funnel not yet ready to purchase.
When we reviewed their sales process and online presence, we revealed that this company gave little insight as to the benefit of the products or features on their very limited content website. Instead, it offered a “FREE 30 Day Trial” as a means to get those chasing free information into their CRM.
As the software helps customers organise their share portfolios once the prospect had use of the tool for 30 days and during that free trial, the prospect was contacted more than five times and spammed twice a week with email inviting them to attend webinars and pod casts.
What this client should have offered instead is holistic and detailed overviews of key aspects of the solution that solve a particular pain point likely to queried on Google, encouraging live demos and selling actively during those calls.
Striking the right balance between contacting customers too much and too little requires understanding their stated and actual needs. There should be a clear strategy for reaching out to customers based on needs and profit potential, with nurture campaigns dictating how frequent is best.
When you think about building valuable relationships with your customers, your sales reps are critical players on the front lines. But are they getting the basics right? Your future customers want to be contacted just enough, not spammed to death.
Your team of sales representatives should know your products or services comprehensively and how your offering stacks up with those of their competitors.
Clients need information on exactly how a product or service will make them more successful. And while they may say price is one of their biggest concerns a satisfying sales experience is ultimately more important.
Here are three way you can improve your customer experience during the sales process:
1. Enable Your Prospect.
Can your prospect self educate, learning about your features and benefits at 3am in their sweatpants in seat 3B flying somewhere over Islamabad on Etihad on their IPad? Is your website mobile friendly? Does it deliver value 24 hours per day, 7 days per week? Consider that 50% of consumer time online is spent engaging with custom content. (Source:HubSpot). If you don’t have answers on your website, your competitor will.
2. Practice “Youtility”.
Be genuinely helpful by answering common pain point questions and organically become the most credible and trusted expert in your field earning the right to attention and relationship.
3. Personalise the Process.
Make your marketing memorable to the end user. Create online buyer personas, identify what each of your customer types need to move through your sales funnel and take the next step. Then develop scenarios or ‘click paths’ so that you can elegantly guide your customer towards the solutions they need. Treat your customers like individuals, and make your message sound like a lovers voice, not a douchebag.
For your potential customers your online sales activities should be as good or better than those they would experience in real life. The connected consumer expects you to be open and available to help them solve their problems 24/7 – 365 days a year. Consolidate your sales process by bridging the chasm between your on and offline sales to experience increased revenue and create nurture campaigns that make buying from you more pleasant.
Got a tip to increasing online sales? Share it with me in the comments!
About the Author
Stephenie Rodriguez founded Mighty Media Group in 2004 and is currently the company’s Chief Executive Officer. She is also the former publisher of Ocean Drive Magazine (Australia), a speaker and futurist on all aspects of social technology, an evangelist of engagement, and has advised companies including ClubMed Asia/Pacific, SSP – The Food Travel Experts, Austereo, JR/DutyFree, Radar Group of Companies, Transfield, Allied Mills, ClubMed, Income Solutions, and Bayer (Berocca), Toyota, Mercedes Benz, and the UN FAO. You’re likely to find her Tweeting here @digitalgodess or present at events such as #SXSWi, #TFWA, #Tedx and #SocialBiz.