In order to maximise performance, it is important that organisations meet the expectations of buyers and, ideally, exceed those expectations. However, in the modern sales environment, customer expectations are greater than ever before, and it has also never been easier for them to switch brands, or try out rival companies.
For this reason, sales skills development needs to be targeted towards ensuring sales reps consistently live up to what buyers expect. To assist, CSO Insights recently published its 2018 Buyer Preferences Study and identified the four most essential expectations to focus on, based on feedback received from buyers.
With this information in mind, this blog post looks at how to ensure your salespeople meet buyer’s expectations.
1. Understand the Buyer
The first thing that buyers are demanding is that salespeople take the time to understand them before they attempt to engage. In fact, according to Inc.com, 77 percent of B2B buyers say they wouldn’t engage with a salesperson who didn’t do their homework first and know about their business.
Interestingly, the CSO Insights study points out that B2B buyers are increasingly influenced by B2C technology. Their expectations have been heightened by websites and vendors that make use of AI to provide accurate, tailored recommendations. As a result, their tolerance for explaining themselves has lowered.
Of course, the conflict here is that salespeople need to spend as much time as possible selling, rather than researching. Therefore, you need to provide your sales team with a focused, consistent approach to finding out about buyers, and provide the tools necessary for different departments to share valuable information.
2. Communicate Effectively
In addition to taking the time to understand the buyer, salespeople also need to possess excellent communication skills. After all, it is only through sales meetings or telephone discussions that salespeople can convince buyers that their solution is worthwhile, negotiate a price that suits both parties and provide additional value.
This is the focus of Miller Heiman Group’s Professional Sales Skills Training. The programme helps salespeople to develop sales-led, goal-driven communication skills, teaches them proven questioning techniques, and provides a structured approach to sales conversations with potential buyers.
Armed with the right communication skills, reps can greatly improve their individual sales performance. With that said, it is important to understand that listening is a crucial part of strong communication, and buyers expect salespeople to know when to stop talking, and to deliver tailored solutions, based on what is said to them.
3. Focus on the Post-Sale
Typically, the customer journey consists of three main phases: the awareness phase, the buying phase, and the implementation or adoption phase. Understandably, most salespeople place a strong emphasis on targeting the buying phase, but the implementation and adoption phase requires careful attention too.
“For a buyer, the buying decision is just a milestone on the way to something that’s more important: the implementation and usage phase that actually creates the value they bought,” explains Tamara Schenk, Research Director of CSO Insights. “This is why all our enablement frameworks always cover the entire customer’s path.”
One of the key findings of the aforementioned 2018 Buyer Preferences Study was the fact that salespeople do not do enough to assist buyers during this implementation phase. This is a mistake, because it is arguably the single most significant step of the buyer’s journey, as it is where they see whether a solution has worked for them.
4. Provide Insight & Perspective
Finally, to meet buyers’ expectations and achieve peak sales performance, reps need to provide genuine insight and perspective. One of the reasons why this is so important is because buyers tend to make contact with salespeople later in the sales cycle than in the past, as the following graphic neatly demonstrates.
CSO Insights’ study found that, with less time to work with, salespeople struggle to differentiate themselves. Less than a third (31.9 percent) of buyers say they usually find that one seller greatly outshines the others, with more than two-thirds seeing little difference among sellers, or no difference at all.
Providing insight and perspective is a way for salespeople to stand out. To do this, salespeople need to contextualise their offering and convey what their solution actually means to each specific buyer. This is also the opportunity for sales teams to demonstrate their expertise and create a more meaningful relationship with customers.
In a sales environment where buyers have a greater range of choice, it is vital to ensure salespeople consistently meet or exceed their expectations. By focusing on the four ideas above, you can effectively develop the sales skills of your team and improve overall sales performance in the process.
Miller Heiman Group’s sales enablement solutions emphasise the importance of aligning efforts to the customer journey. Information about this will be available at the upcoming Sales Enablement Summit 2018, held in London on 8th November. To find out more, and to register your attendance for the event, click here.