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Thus, it is critical for sales and marketing people to spend more time understanding what motivates their customer decisions today and less time pushing for a fast close. It means more focus on the customer buying process rather than the customer selling process. Here are some specifics I recommend to accomplish this.
Get the view from the customer early by talking to real people. With
interactive social media and customers anxious to provide input, companies no
longer need expensive customer panels and market research to get a true customer
perspective. It’s important to do this early and continuously, since needs and
motivations change quickly.
Structure your sales process based on customer buying steps. Replace
your sales process steps with customer action steps. Continually drive for more
specifics on the steps customers follow, such as seeking friend recommendations,
scanning for good reviews and checking impact on the environment. Tune your
sales process to address each of these.
Make selling collaborative rather than the domain of a single sales
person. With today’s online tools, let the customer see and hear from your
support organization, marketing and top executives. The customer needs to feel
like he is joining a team who has his back rather than negotiating a special
deal. Make every sale a win-win outcome.
Identify specific decision points and demographics of the buyer.
Individual buyer demographics can no longer be generic titles, such as
mother, owner or organization. With today’s analytics, you can -- and need -- to
look deeper at each customer for culture, age, lifestyle and buyer-experience
expectations. Selling to the wrong profile loses sales.
Identify the key relationships behind the customer buy decision.
Trusted advisor connections and personal relationships often outweigh price
and feature comparisons. This is true even with corporate executives, as well as
individual consumer decisions. These relationships may be from support groups,
online influencers or industry experts.
- Forecast lead closure rates based on customer buying steps completed. Sales projections based on sales steps completed puts the focus on the wrong equation. Closing sales requires an understanding of how to get the customer to move to the next step in his buying process. Where this need is not met should be a new marketing task.
Also, don’t forget to follow-up with and nurture existing customers. In today’s open communication environment, every satisfied customer can bring you four to six new ones quickly with credibility already established and without any selling. In addition, the cross-selling and up-selling opportunities can be far more lucrative than a sole focus on new customer acquisition.
Overall, the key is to put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and lead them through their own buying decision process. Most customers don’t mind being led, if they are convinced that you are a leader rather than a pusher. It’s important that you listen to their needs before charging down a specific path. Nobody trusts someone who has all the answers before they know the question.
*** First published on Entrepreneur.com on 12/09/2015 ***