A recent study conducted by the Sales Executive Council revealed that today’s B2B buyer is already 57% through the buying cycle before they even engage with your sales team. If your business is more transactional in nature, that number could be over 80%. Today, your sales force is dealing with the informed buyer, a savvy, well-educated buyer who is armed with information and resources when he meets your sales reps for the first time.
A Resource for You
Extensive research performed by SBI revealed that sales leaders are intensely focused on allocating people, time and money in 2013. To benefit from this research, register here for SBI’s Research Tour and learn if your sales team is properly aligned to serve your informed buyer by completing the Time Allocation Assessment. You may be surprised by the results.
The Early Stage Buyer
Today’s early stage buyers don’t require a sales rep to guide them through their journey. In years past, buyers didn’t have all the info they needed at their fingertips to make a decision. They would engage with a sales person and tell them their pain. At the beginning, sales would walk them through how to solve the problem, thereby influencing their thinking. Today, your prospects are doing this on their own. There is a whole list of buyers who are researching you now and who will engage with you 12 months from now with a head full of knowledge. Investing people and dollars to ensure you properly nurture the early stage buyer is critical. If your sales organization is not aligned to the new way buyers buy, you are still doing things the old way. You are wasting valuable sales compensation dollars on activities your buyer doesn’t value.
Focus on the Front End
Imagine downloading a form from a web site you just visited for the first time and your phone rings 30 seconds later. “Hi, this is Joe Salesrep from XYZ.com. I see you downloaded a form. Can we schedule a meeting to talk about your needs?” Do this and you will chase away your buyer. If your pipeline is full of early stage deals that haven’t progressed in weeks or months, it’s likely you’ve rushed them to opportunity management rather than nurturing them through their buyer’s journey.
This may seem counterintuitive at first, but consider the position of your buyer. They move through their buying journey at their own pace, not according to the rules you have in your CRM system. They want you to educate them along the way, not “sell” them your product. This is where lead nurturing and value-add is critical. Ignore the value of nurturing your early-stage buyers and they will go somewhere else. Moving dollars up the funnel from your sales compensation budget will allow you to properly align yourself to the informed buyer’s needs early in their journey.
Don’t Neglect Your Customers
A similar experience is taking place with your customers. Many companies sell new logos and lob them over the fence to the customer support team. Traditional customer support reps do just that: support the customer. When it comes to a land-and-expand strategy, they are clueless. If you don’t have account managers who can effectively nurture a relationship to generate renewals, cross sells and up sells, you are leaving money on the table. Your customers are investing money with you. They want to maximize their investment over the length of the relationship. The inability to provide them with strategic resources that allow them to derive increased value from your solution will drive them elsewhere.
If you are lacking individuals who can engage with the buyer in an educational way throughout their journey, strongly consider reallocating some of your sales compensation budget to address this in 2013.
Are you listening to your buyers? There is a tectonic shift happening in the B2B sales world. In 2013, get ahead of your competition and blow out your number by using your sales compensation dollars to align with the informed buyer’s journey.