The best way to sell prospects is not to treat them the same way you treat your customers—instead develop a customized and tailored message that aligns with their specific concerns.

It’s early November, and only a few weeks away from Thanksgiving.

 

For some, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reflect on what they are thankful for in life: friends, family, the food on the kitchen table—a smoked chipotle turkey with stuffing and gravy. Maybe even Michigan football and “The Game” that takes place just 48 hours later.

 

For others, it serves as an opportunity to reflect about your personal and professional achievements in 2018. You completed your first Iron Man competition. You aligned rep and customer attrition to best-in-class organizations, after identifying these as issues last year. The result?  Your team achieved its revenue target for the third straight quarter; the longest streak since you’ve been with the company. All indications are your company will achieve its annual number before the calendar turns to December. Your organization will be one of the few that is growing faster than the market.

 

Achieving above-market growth is not easy. It requires an ability to effectively retain and grow existing customers, while acquiring new logo accounts. Sometimes, companies struggle in both areas; often, they excel at one, but not the other. This can occur when companies do not properly apply the Buyer Strategy to customers and prospects.

 

 

Download the Buying Strategy Checklist to evaluate the seven stages of the buying strategy, leverage questions to ask in each of the seven stages, and utilize the “Your Actions & Collateral” section to figure out your next moves.

 

What is the Buyer’s Strategy?

 

The buying process describes the journey your customer and/or prospect goes through before purchasing your product.

 

The prospect’s journey consists of a five-step process (see graphic below). It is important to understand the difference between the prospect’s journey and customer’s journey.

 

A Map of the Prospects’ Buying Journey

 

It is critical that both the organization and sales reps understand the buyer’s journey. It allows leadership to align the selling process to the buying process. This minimizes frustration and miscommunication resulting from buyers and sellers being on different pages.

 

What are the Actions of Reps and Buyers in Each Stage?

 

  1. Awareness Stage:

     

    Over the years, businesses have changed the way that they buy. With the advance of technology, it has never been easier to gather information via the web. Today, buyers are 70% through their decision-making process before engaging a salesperson.

     

    During this stage, the buyer realizes that problems exist, which is leading to below-market growth. This provides an opportunity for the sales rep to demonstrate industry expertise. Focus on the big picture and try to uncover issues they were not previously aware of.

     

  2. Interest Stage:

     

    At this stage, buyers are in the initial research phase, taking stock of all available solutions. Nearly 50% of buyers create a short list of potential vendors. One third conduct initial research before speaking with a sales rep.

     

    Focus on solutions, educate buyers and help evaluate their buying criteria; utilize research reports, analyst reports and videos to provider deeper understanding; if your solution cannot solve the problem, do not waste time pursuing the deal.

     

  3. Evaluation Stage:

     

    This stage represents a shift in research focus to solutions that can solve a specific problem. For the seller, this is an opportunity to present your solution as world class. Demonstrate what it is like to work with your company; utilize case studies, pricing sheets and other information to do differentiate from the competition.

     

  4. Negotiation & Validation:

     

    This stage is marked by buying team expansion, with additional requirements and requests.  According to Harvard Business Review, an average of 5.4 people within the buying organization have to sign off on it. Does your company have the track record to support your recommendations? Demonstrate the value that the buyer is receiving by going with your solution.

     

  5. Selection Stage:

     

    Buyer commits to a specific solution and notifies other parties of decision; make the contract process easy and begin implementation phase with user guides and training aides.

     

How Does the Buyer’s Journey Vary for Customers & Prospects?

 

Buying concerns shift when a prospect becomes a customer. Where product and pricing may have influenced the initial sale, other factors influence subsequent sales. These include:

 

  • Product Quality and Reliability
  • Customer Support
  • Return on Investment
  • Ease to Do Business
  • Breadth of Capabilities

     

A Map of the Customers’ Buying Journey

 

Once the initial purchase has been made, it is important to continue to educate the customer. Utilize customer communities and feedback loops to ensure maximum return on investment; this will yield high customer satisfaction marks—and future sales opportunity.

 

Refer to this article to identify how Sales & Marketing can accelerate the buyers’ journey.

 

Conclusion

 

Today, buyers are 70% through their decision-making process before engaging a salesperson; sales reps have fewer areas—not opportunities—where they can influence the buying process. Remember, standardization is a major sales sin.

 

The best way to sell prospects is not to treat them the same way you treat your customers—instead develop a customized and tailored message that aligns with their specific concerns.

 

A tailored approach will improve customer retention and new logo acquisition, positioning you for above-market growth.

 

Download the Buying Strategy Checklist to evaluate the seven stages of the buying strategy, leverage questions to ask in each of the seven stages, and utilize the “Your Actions & Collateral” section to figure out your next moves.

 

 

Additional Resources

 

Schedule a working session at SBI’s Studio.

 

Located in Dallas, TX, our facility offers state-of-the-art meeting rooms, lounge, full-service bar, and a studio used to tape our TV shows. SBI provides the location and facilitators, all at a compelling price point.

 

As a guest of The Studio, you’ll get unlimited access to SBI’s CEO, Partners, and a handpicked team of experts. Together we’ll focus on developing an action plan for your needs by getting a month of work done in just eight hours. It’s an amplified experience that you can only get in one place: The Studio. I hope you join us.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Marcsisin

Enables sales and marketing leaders to make the number through rigorous data driven analysis and implementation of emerging best practices.

John has nearly six years of consulting experience focused on sales force effectiveness, incentive plan design, executive compensation and broad-based rewards aimed at helping clients achieve short and long-term business objectives.

 

John’s experience includes working with organizations in varying levels of change, including: start up, wholesale transformation, and merger & acquisition. He is tasked with developing sales force effectiveness strategies and processes that attract/focus/motivate/retain top talent.  Specific areas of focus include: sales coverage model, performance benchmarking, sales compensation design, account segmentation and financial analysis/modeling.

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