There is perhaps no business unit that relies on the delicate combination of science and art more than sales. Maintaining a robust data analysis operation can be extremely illuminating, and in fact is necessary for almost every organization to compete in the current landscape. However, there are integral parts of the sales process that remain hidden from even the most advanced metrics. To fill in these gaps and get a complete picture of the sales process and how it relates to your customers, it is important to understand the more human elements that come into play.
Many of us like to think that we approach our business decisions with a level head and a dedication to logic, keeping our emotional reactions undercover until we are back with our family and friends. In reality, humans can never turn off the part of the brain that causes us to react emotionally, and this has big implications when it comes to the relationship between your organization and your customers. The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) partnered with Google for a study of the role that emotion played for 3,000 B2B customers. They found that although branding is still an important component of a successful strategy, only 14% of the buyers perceived a valuable difference when it came to brands’ business value.
All of this leads to the conclusion that you can be doing everything right from a product, pricing and marketing perspective, and still run up against a disconnect with your customer if you do not understand how their state of mind affects their purchasing decisions.
The customer experience is an accumulation of memories, emotions and relationships
A crucial ingredient to enterprise sales success is providing a superior customer experience, and your product or your pricing structure are not always at the core of this experience. Rather, it is an amalgamation of the various ways which your people and your company make the customer feel.
In the sales process, this translates into storytelling. But it is not just about telling the most effective story about your product and your value proposition; the customer needs to easily understand where they fit into the story in order to maximize engagement. This is representative of a very human desire. We all want to feel like we are understood, and that our problems and concerns hold real weight for those with whom we are conversing. When you can successfully make your clients feel this it creates a long-term culture of trust that forms the backbone of the customer experience.
Customers perceive value differently than sellers
Salespeople are trained to have intimate knowledge of their product’s value: what problem it solves, why it is the best option for solving said problem and why the pricing structure makes sense for the client. But limiting yourself to this view fails to take into account the perceived value of the transaction for the customer.
Some experts separate a customer’s perceived value into three categories. First is company value, which includes all benefits gained by the company such as efficiency improvements or cost savings. Then there is professional value, which covers the ways that a product can make the client’s job easier. Finally there is identity value, which many argue is the most important because it speaks directly to the customer as a person, not an employee.
Sales largely depends on recruiting mobilizers
One of the reasons that demonstrating identity value to your customer is so crucial involves the increasing dependence on mobilizers. Enterprises in the 21st century are becoming increasingly complex, technology now often links business units that previously had little interaction with each other, and managers and directors have access to more information than ever before.
These factors result in an increase in the amount of stakeholders who have a say in the purchasing process, which is why it can be very advantageous to have a mobilizer who can advocate for you within the organization.
The customer journey is driven by small but significant moments
Aligning the timing of your sales process with the timing of the customer’s journey is one of the surest ways to close a deal. When the timing is off, it can derail a potential sale even when it seems like every other variable has been accounted for.
The problem is that evaluating the customer’s purchasing journey from start to finish can be a daunting task. Instead, it is better to consider it as a series of moments where something you do or do not do can have a significant impact. That way, you just have to pay attention at each stage of the journey to ensure that your timelines are still aligned.
Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com