Q: SHOULD SELLING BE VIEWED AS A BUYING EXPERIENCE AND WHY
Tom: There are some luxury brands that realized a long time ago, when you want to get someone to pay a premium, it is less about the product and more about the shopping and purchase experience. If your B2B solution isn’t the cheapest, you would be wise to follow a similar path, to create a better buying experience.
With information so readily available about you and the competition online, and different B2B solutions looking and sounding more and more alike, creating a unique and different buying experience could be exactly what you need to differentiate.
In fact, 53% of 5,000 buyers surveyed by the Corporate Executive Board say it’s the sales experience ─ not the product, service or solution or even the organization ─ driving customer purchases and on-going loyalty.
Q: WHAT ARE THE TOP WAYS COMPANIES CAN TRANSFORM SALES TO IMPROVE THEIR PROSPECTS' BUYING EXPERIENCE IN THE NEXT 12-24 MONTHS
Tom: It is important to know what creates a great buying experience, and then orient the toolset, skillset and mindset of your sellers to best get you there.
So what does great look like? Like a good luxury brand, it is important to focus on where the “rubber meets the road”, the direct customer engagement. So from my perspective, especially when looking at sales enablement, creating a good buying experience is all about creating a great customer engagement experience (CEx).
And the research highlights what good CEx looks like:
- Insightful – where the seller offers unique and valuable perspectives on the market, what challenges and issues should be addressed
- Educational- where the seller helps the buyer honestly navigate amongst a sea of potential solution to narrow alternatives and avoid potential landmines
- Simple – where the solution is easy to understand and purchase, and the seller helps the buyer proactively navigate an often complex decision gauntlet.
Evolving to deliver good CEx, means sales enablement elevating sellers to be able to:
- Diagnose – help buyers understand what ails them, including educating the buyer on what good looks like, uncovering hidden issues, and benchmarking against competitors.
- Prescribe – From the sea of available solutions, providing advice and guiding buyers to the right solution to address their priority challenges
- Facilitate – helping to simplify the buyer’s journey by proactively providing the right content to gain consensus from all the different members of the buying committee and obtain executive approval.
Q: HOW SHOULD COMPANIES DECIDE WHICH BUYING EXPERIENCE IMPROVEMENT INITIATIVES TO START WITH - ASSUMING THEY CAN'T DO ALL AT ONCE?
Tom: For me, better CEx starts with Ditching the Pitch. Sellers rely so much on presentation decks to help fuel their virtual engagements, but these decks are usually really big, text heavy and linear. No wonder 1 in 5 would rather go to the dentist than sit through another PowerPoint presentation.
When asked by Forrester, 74% of buyers say they want sellers to not present a canned pitch, but pivot presentations / meetings to discuss what the buyer wants to talk about.
So this means reimagining your presentations for this new digital and remote selling world:
- Dump the text and replace it with graphics and animations, key to grabbing buyer attention. With prospect attention spans now at 8 seconds, less than that of a goldfish, leveraging dynamic visuals immediately and often will help you to connect and continually engage.
- Instead of big 100 to 400 page decks (we just reviewed one that was 440 pages, divide the big deck into little stories, vignettes that a seller can run through based on the situation, and use a sales enablement platform to keep the vignettes organized, findable, and easily presented situationally.
- Tie the vignettes together with story mapping, that will help the seller discover challenges and vector to the right solutions. Presenting a picture of a “day in the life” of the buyer is one of my favorite methods. You can walk the buyer through typical issues you see for customers like them and click on each day in the life element that is relevant, revealing insights, stories and recommendations for improvement. The buyer designs their own story, and the seller quickly pivots to the right educational graphics, insights and recommendation guidance.
Next, with buyers so focused on the economics of a good purchase decision (or the cataclysmic consequences of a bad one) I would tackle better value communication and quantification. The key is to enable sellers to focus on business value and outcomes early.
Unfortunately, according to Forrester, buyers’ indicate that 80% of sellers still pitch their products / services, while only 20% are focused on what buyers really care about: personalized help assessing their challenges and a focus on the business value outcomes that can be achieved with proposed solutions.
So how do you get sellers to pivot from pitching products and services to articulating business value? Your sellers should be empowered to discover value and co-create a business case with every customer, to clearly communicate and quantify the cost of “do nothing” and the business value your proposed solution can uniquely deliver.
To do this, we recommend arming your sellers with an interactive business value assessment that can automate and help them deliver the following:
- Interactive discovery of the prospect’s challenges, current state and opportunities
- A tally of “do nothing” differently costs
- An estimate of the potential business value benefits from your solution – a tally of the cost savings / avoidance, productivity / process improvements, risk avoidance and business growth your solution can help provide
- A quantification of the cash flow your project could generate, comparing potential business value benefits versus required investments, risk adjusted to account for implementation and adoption optimization, and summarized into the key financial measures of ROI, NPV savings, and payback.
- Relevant success stories, to show how others just like your prospect have achieved similar significant benefits.
The seller can use the interactive business value assessment tool with the customer to drive virtual interactions to gather data, review and collaboratively refine results. Assessment reports can be automatically produced from the tool and sent to the buyer in order to facilitate getting the buying committee to understand the important business drivers for the proposal and to get executives and approval committees the financial justification needed to get to “Yes”.
Q: WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR ENSURING THAT TECHNOLOGIES CONTRIBUTE TO THE BUYING EXPERIENCE IN MEANINGFUL WAYS?
Tom: Because the new presentation or value approach could be different and new for some sellers, making sure your reps are competent, capable, and credible when using these new tools with buyers is key. It’s not just the toolset, but the skillset and mindset that matter.
- Training – showing sellers exactly how to apply the new tools to reshape the buying experience, especially what “good” looks, sounds and acts like.
- Certification – validating, with testing and a recorded / live exercise that the seller can use the tools and that it yields an improvement in CEx.
- Reinforcement – leveraging a leader board, on-going quizzes and continuous improvement lessons and certification to assure evolved improvement.
Q: HOW DOES YOUR SOLUTION HELP SELLERS IMPROVE THE BUYING EXPERIENCE?
Tom: Because we know it can sometimes be a challenge to get started, and do so in a quick, low risk manner, we have implemented two new technology-driven services to help drive better buying experience and better CEx:
- Jumpstart Presentation – a set of creative services and a license to a sales enablement platform, to help create an interactive presentation, and deliver it, the rest of important selling content and the needed enablement capabilities to help sellers better connect, engage and inspire prospects to action.
- Jumpstart ROI – a set of business value analyst services and interactive value assessment application to help create and deliver an interactive tool for your sellers, channel partners, customer success group and consultants to use in each and every engagement, to quickly discover opportunities, communicate and quantify business value improvements, and deliver ROI financial justification for executive review and approval.
Both programs are available quickly, in 3 weeks or less, and at no risk: if the services and platform don’t prove valuable in the pilot period and result in incremental buying experience and deal improvements, you can cancel at any time with absolutely no payment due).
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?
Tom: To help companies improve, we have created the Evolved Selling Institute, a great resource for sales leaders, marketers and sales enablement pros to find the independent research, podcasts, and community advice needed to evolve their buying and customer engagement experiences.
Check it out at https://www.evolvedselling.com/
Our mediafly website also has great sales enablement content and resources: https://www.mediafly.com/resources/.
Chief Evangelist, Mediafly
Tom “The ROI Guy” Pisello is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author of the book Evolved Selling™: Optimizing Sales Enablement in the Age of Frugalnomics. He joined the Mediafly team in 2018 through the acquisition of the company he founded and led, Alinean Inc. In his role as Mediafly’s Chief Evangelist, Tom is responsible for developing new practices for sellers and marketers to communicate and quantify business value to increasingly frugal buyers. He also leads Mediafly’s Advisory Services group in helping companies evolve their selling practices from transactional to value-led. Outside of the office, he is the proud father of two daughters.