Q: WHAT ARE THE TOP WAYS COMPANIES CAN TRANSFORM SALES TO IMPROVE THEIR PROSPECTS' BUYING EXPERIENCE IN THE NEXT 12-24 MONTHS
ED: The selling environment has completely changed now that buyers are able to go online and find out who a company is, what they do, who their competitors are, and even get active testimonials from sites like G2, all before the buyer ever interacts with the company’s sales team.
This trend has collided with the workplace effects of COVID-19, in that not only are we in an exclusively virtual sales environment, but budgets are under greater pressure. Sellers must be increasingly precise, engaging, and effective in the way they communicate with buyers.
Sellers must be able to tailor their discussions to each buyer’s needs, rather than sharing information the buyer has likely already found online. Sellers that come to the table with an educated and personalized story about what each a buyer is interested in are going to be the most successful and provide the best buying experience.
Buyers must also find ways to be sensitive and supportive in today’s remote work environment. Successful sellers will be able to articulate how their solution will help a business over the next 12-24 months, whether that business is working toward expedited digital transformation efforts or is eager to find a tool to help them be more competitive in the field.
For companies’ sales and marketing teams, this could mean changing messaging, altering their inside sales strategy, or re-thinking the kinds of businesses they’re targeting.
Q: HOW SHOULD COMPANIES DECIDE WHICH BUYING EXPERIENCE IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES TO START WITH - ASSUMING THEY CAN'T DO ALL AT ONCE?
ED: Companies should prioritize improvements to the buying experience that can scale when additional budget or time becomes available. This means focusing on initiatives that will arm sellers with the tools they need to incrementally improve the buying experience.
Giving sellers access to data that will reveal insights into a customer’s preferences and needs, and also help them determine the next best action, will be an essential foundation to up-leveling the buying experience with data-backed stories. Winning sales teams are able to apply data, such as how a buyer has engaged with a piece of sent content, to help them be more relevant in the moment. An investment in tools that allow sellers to be more data-driven and better understand the buyer’s journey, are the kind of initiatives that companies should be considering right now.
Another priority should be making sure sellers have access to a bank of quality content, such as case studies, that allows them to engage with buyers in a meaningful way at each stage of the buying journey. No matter how effective content delivery is across channels, it’s not going to make a difference in improving the overall buyer experience if the content being shared is not useful to the buyer.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ENSURING THAT TECHNOLOGIES CONTRIBUTE TO THE BUYING EXPERIENCE IN MEANINGFUL WAYS?
ED: According to a July 2019 Seismic-commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, 85 percent of sales, marketing and enablement leaders agree that buyers are more likely to dismiss a seller if they don’t receive relevant and tailored information in the first interaction.
Technology and data should act as a guide to help a skilled seller tailor an in-person or virtual conversation with a buyer so time can be spent talking about what really matters to them. This is why soft skills, such as active listening, being situationally aware, and knowing what kinds of questions to ask, should be applied in conjunction with technology for a well-rounded buying experience.
Soft skills enable a good salesperson to adapt their message on the fly and appeal to each person no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey. Most importantly, it helps foster a two-way conversation and creates more of a consultative experience for buyers, rather than feeling like they’re being sold to. Balancing these soft skills with the insights they get from data will make sellers unstoppable.
Q: HOW DOES YOUR SOLUTION HELP SELLERS IMPROVE THE BUYING EXPERIENCE?
ED: Seismic’s marketing and sales enablement solution equips sellers to deliver resonant experiences that are modern and tailored to buyers’ needs. We achieve this by making it easy for marketers and enablers to develop and deploy content to field sales teams quickly – wherever, whenever.
Our storytelling platform gives marketers the ability to orchestrate content delivery across all channels and enables sellers with the information they need to engage with buyers in a compelling way – no matter where they are in the journey.
The B2B sales process has shifted significantly in recent years due to the amount of information and data available to both buyers and sellers.
Most buyers have done their research before even engaging with a seller and expect them to not only know where they are in the buying process, but to provide a tailored experience that is similar to the kinds of experiences they have with their favorite consumer brands like Amazon or Netflix.
We put this information directly into sellers’ hands so they can gain insight into what the buyer is thinking and tell the right story at the right time. The result: closing more deals, faster.
CRO & Co-Founder, Seismic
Ed is the co-founder and CRO of Seismic, where he leads the company’s go-to-market efforts. Ed brings 20+ years of sales leadership experience from ADP, Thomson Financial, S&P and EMC to Seismic. In 2016, he was named a Top Boston Startup Founders Over 40 by Tech.co.