We can’t count the number of times new clients have told us they have a sales process in place, only to find that each rep has their own understanding of what that actually is (and believes their way is the RIGHT way!).
In fact, there is only ONE right way – and that’s mapped to the way your target customer buys. The buyer’s journey is a key factor in crafting a better sales process, but it’s often overlooked as sales managers instinctively look inward to make tweaks and changes. Taking a broader view of a sale that also considers the buyer’s preferences can make a huge difference to sales process effectiveness.
This blog aims to accomplish the following:
- Outline 5 common sales process challenges that you're likely experiencing
- Provide a FREE template for sales process/buyer journey mapping
- Share the key elements of a WInning Sales Process
5 Common Sales Process Challenges
- Buyers have already educated themselves by the time they talk to a salesperson. In fact, 90% of B2B buyers use search (like Google, Bing) to research business purchases [via Google]. The salesperson risks boring and ultimately losing the buyer by sharing information they already know. When the buyer/seller connection is made, this is a golden opportunity for the salesperson to share new information and ideas, and ask good questions that make the buyer question their current way of doing things, and further enforce their decision to consider making a purchase..
- Sales and marketing operate separately when they should be under one roof. In the modern sales process, buyers spend a lot of time in research and self-education mode before they reach out to vendors. And marketing is responsible for attracting these people's interest, managing the website they go to [i.e. your company's first impression], and the content they read before reaching out to you. Information-sharing across sales and marketing will improve the buyer experience and streamline the B2B sales process.
- Salespeople don’t properly qualify new prospects, and enter them into the sales process. Without a qualification methodology, much time can be wasted pursuing dead-end opportunities. Understanding how to find out the why/what/who/when of a buyer's interest upfront will save a lot of time for salespeople, and improve forecasting for management. Meaning:
- Why are they looking - what is their compelling event? And why are they looking to your company for help?
- What are they looking for - and can your company provide it?
- Who is the decision-maker - if it's not them, who is, and can the connection be made?
- When do they plan to make a purchase - or are they just looking?
- Lack of industry or competitor understanding on behalf of the sales rep. As previously stated, today’s buyers do their homework. Your reps should too or else they'll immediately lose credibility with interested buyers. Having this valuable intel will enable salespeople to think on their feet, respond appropriately to objections, and position effectively against competing solutions.
- Not providing value at every buyer touchpoint. It’s a buyer’s (not seller’s) world out there, and modern buyers are coming to expect the same positive experience during a B2B sale that they would in a B2C sale (like making a purchase on Amazon). Every email, conversation, meeting, etc. needs to delight the buyer, demonstrate value, and keep them interested in moving ahead.
Clearly, the buyer and the seller have different expectations of a sales process and as the seller, it’s our job to understand the buyer and get on their level. This starts by understanding who your ideal customer is from every angle using detailed prospect personas.
Once you understand the prospect, their pains, motivators, organizational structure, and more, begin mapping your sales process to the way that this person would buy. Typically, the B2B Buying Journey is broken into the following six actions:
- Question the status quo
- Commit to change
- Explore solutions
- Commit to a solution
- Justify their decision
- Make a final decision
Sales Process Mapping
In a B2B Sales Process, seller actions follow some iteration of this sequence:
- Lead generation (outbound/inbound)
- First interaction
- Discovery and solution presentation
- Negotiate and close
To be effective, this process needs to map to the Buyer’s Journey. Download our FREE template to see how each of the buyer’s journey stages align with the sales process, and what actions to take within each.
Free Sales Process Mapping Template
What Else Matters in a B2B Sales Process?
While the B2B Buyer’s Journey is the single-most important part of the sales process, it doesn’t provide the level of clarity that salespeople require. A strong sales process also needs to have the following outlined for each stage, and salespeople need to be trained and held accountable for it:
- Stage objectives
- Entry/exit criteria
- Key activities
- Key metrics
- Percentage to close
- CRM mapping
- Collateral/tools to use
We can't emphasize enough how important that your sales process is customized to your organization. There is no "one size fits all" approach to a sale, as every company, product, and buyer is different. But there are best practices and training that can get your team on the same page, selling in a consistent and powerful manner.
Don't risk applying a canned sales process to your unique business - our experts can help evaluate your current process and identify areas of improvement that will resonate with your buyer and make your sales team great. Contact us today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your sales process challenges.