Q: SHOULD SELLING BE VIEWED AS A BUYING EXPERIENCE AND WHY
RICH: Buyers are more informed, smarter in terms of how they purchase, and better at identifying authenticity or hype in a sales process. For that reason, companies who don’t start by considering a client’s buying experience first are at risk of the types of sales process misalignment that risk lost sales, unnecessary discounts, shorter contract terms and similar consequences.
Enabling sales with the information helps them deliver a great buying experience that is, we believe, the foundation of an enduring post-sale client experience.
What stands in the way of a great buying experience today (pre- or post-sale)? The barriers include sales professionals not fully understanding the product or service they’re offering prospective clients; not being aware of changes that happen all the time in the competitive markets they sell into and to the products and offerings they’re focusing on; not understanding regional, cultural, regulatory or other features that aren’t product related but mean so much when it comes to building a great buying experience.
Without this fully informed and empathetic view of the buying experience sales can happen, but perhaps not the ones that create the buying experience you want: one where clients’ lifetime value is optimized by repeat sales starting with a winning buying experience.
Q: WHAT ARE THE TOP WAYS COMPANIES CAN TRANSFORM SALES TO IMPROVE THEIR PROSPECTS' BUYING EXPERIENCE IN THE NEXT 12-24 MONTHS
RICH: Reinforcing sales professionals with a combination of soft skills (to consider the buyer first) and hard skills is incredibly important over the next 12-24 months. The former helps sales professionals gain the soft skills necessary to think “buying experience” first during a sales cycle. The second, hard skills, may seem obvious, but worth renewed focus for two reasons.
Unfortunately, traditional learning methods and technologies are proving to be ineffective at learning experiences that learners actually engage with, ones where the learning actually sticks. Too many sales professionals get overpowered by too much information too many times in a day. As a result, science has proven that people are incredibly susceptible to forgetting most of what they’re supposed to learn, including things you can’t afford for them to forget.
The best thing that sales leaders can do to improve the buying experience is to try new ways to arm sales professionals with learning experiences that engage learners and through knowledge reinforcement
Q: HOW SHOULD COMPANIES DECIDE WHICH BUYING EXPERIENCE IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES TO START WITH - ASSUMING THEY CAN'T DO ALL AT ONCE?
RICH: First, the characteristic of a great buying experience will vary based on industry meaning that the answer to this question isn’t a “one size fits all” proposition. As a result, the first thing that a company can do is to speak with their customers and fully understand the demands of their cultures, climates, the regulatory environment, and so on.
Once this understanding is in place, companies are in a good position to align the buying experience as part of the overall customer experience. As “CX” becomes central to the strategies of more companies, the best place to start a great customer experience is in the buying process. For that reason, this is a great place to focus on first in efforts to drive a great buying experience.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ENSURING THAT TECHNOLOGIES CONTRIBUTE TO THE BUYING EXPERIENCE IN MEANINGFUL WAYS?
RICH: Without a way to train and reinforce the buying experience, companies risk a plan that is good in concept but not fully realized in the field.
For that reason, selecting technologies that train and even promote the desired buying experience are essential.
The best measure of making the learning “stick” is proficiency gain: how someone scored when they were first presented with a microlearning challenge and the proficiency level attained by the end of the process.
Q: HOW DOES YOUR SOLUTION HELP SELLERS IMPROVE THE BUYING EXPERIENCE?
RICH: Qstream’s impact on how our clients create great buying experiences is deceptively simple: across all essential areas of learning, Qstream is incredibly effective at engaging sales professionals in the learning exercise; reinforcing the knowledge that their organizations can’t afford them to forget; and providing incredibly insightful and actionable analytics to invest additional learning dollars (and just importantly) on the areas where the team needs it.
In the first category, “engagement,” its proven that in the context of a sort of “battle for eyeballs” when it comes to get learner’s attention, most companies are losing the battle. The distractions of what one client refers to as “the digital junk drawer” — the digital overload that comes from so many messages and experiences competing with each other — is something we’ve been very effective at overcoming.
In fact, we’ve been able to prove a staggering 93% increase in learner engagement over alternative methods — a number that customers would find hard to believe if they didn’t have access to the details themselves. That number is incredibly revealing when it comes to improving the buying experience — what if over 90% or put differently only about 7% of learners engaged in the first place? Qstream’s ability to engage learners in this fashion is unprecedented in digital learning — including all learning related to the buying experience.
With respect to knowledge retention, Qstream’s brain science and the algorithms we’ve developed based on them, are proven to “beat the forgetting curve” — the phenomenon in which people tend to forget what they learn relatively quickly after learning it. In our context, the term “microlearning” means repetition-for-knowledge-retention.” People aren’t asked a question once: they’re asked multiple times to ensure that the information hits their long-term memory. Our customer’s see an average 17% proficiency increase per Qstream
And finally, analytics — clear, actionable, insightful analytics — are used by Qstream customers to measure the success of learning in the content of their programs, including those focused on the buying experience. In addition to exhibiting the success of the programs and substantiating learning ROI, Qstream analytics also identify knowledge gaps by topics, groups, cohorts, regions and individuals where additional investments would be valuable.
Q: What are some good resources if someone wanted to learn what questions to ask, what others are doing, or factors related to sales transformation?
RICH: Some of the best information in the sales training space are blogs, webinars, and case studies from sales training companies and technology providers. These resources are filled with trends, research, and best practices that will help your sales rep create better buyer experiences throughout the customer journey.
One of my favorite resources is this eBook,”The 3 Ps of Winning Sales Teams: Aligning Performance, Productivity, and Proficiency” which talks about why sales proficiency should be the core metric of any sales training program to help improve the knowledge, skills, and behaviors. Being able to track and measure sales reps individual proficiency levels gives managers and trainers visibility into the specific areas that need additional training efforts for improvement.
Also, any resources that show real-world examples of how sales training and enablement experts are using modernized and innovative training methods to improve sales performance. For example, this case study with Paycor shows how they saw a 21% increase in sales proficiency driven by microlearning for continuous reinforcement of product knowledge and sales methodology results in record sales period.
Social media is also a great way to stay up to date on the latest in sales training and enablement space. I recommend connecting and interacting with sales training influencers and practitioners on social or join LinkedIn Groups like ATD Sales Enablement Community and Sales Enablement Society.
Rich Lanchantin sets the Qstream vision to ensure our microlearning solution delivers long term value and easurable outcomes for our enterprise customers, partners, their employees and our investors. Prior to Qstream, Rich spent 30+ years in customer success and sales leadership roles for notable life sciences and software companies including Abbott Informatics, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Rational Software, Lotus Development (now part of IBM). He is dedicated to listening to customer, market and internal feedback to continuously inform product, sales, services and marketing direction to fuel Qstream’s growth and customer success.