Reinventing the Buyer Journey to Drive Sales
Even the best sales person can't drive more sales if you don't understand your buyer needs and build a process to provide the right information at the right time. Acquiring new customers is based on helping new users understand your value proposition (what's in if for me), ease of doing business, consistency, reputation and trust.
Everyone wants more qualified leads, but how to find the ones that will convert, use your product and become advocates?
First, it’s important to understand that leads are not prospects. They are real people with real needs who are looking for a solution to their problem. They want to be sure they purchase the product/service that is right for them and there is fear and uncertainty that they may make a mistake.
You need to begin the process by looking at the buyer’s journey. What are the problems that customer’s are having? How does your product or service solve that problem? Who is involved in the purchasing decision? What influence do they have on the buyer? What is most important to the buyer? How do they mitigate risk?
Lets face it by the time a buyer has contacted you they have already done their homework. Buyers are digitally connected. They are socially connected. They have multiple devices to enable them to have access to real time information, and they can easily find several clients who have used your products/services and get their opinion of your company.
Lets start back at the first step in the customer journey, which is awareness. Does your company do a great job at making it easy for potential buyers to find you on the web? Is your SEO/SEM constantly being refreshed to optimize finding you? Are you participating in the social sites that your buyers visit? Are you talking to other experts in the field who are recommending your company solution over other alternatives that are out there? Are your current customers writing reviews and sharing their opinions on your company? Do you have a blog or a video channel that is educating people on how to solve their problems and what to consider?
The most important question is: Have you talked with your buyers to understand what their problem is and how they have thought about solving it? The best way to understand this is to do journey mapping. Journey mapping lets you understand how the different buyer segments see the problem differently. It helps you answer the question: What the buyer is trying to accomplish? What constraints (budget, expertise, time, industry expertise enc....) are most important to that customer type? What information do they need to understand your solution? How would they like to get the information (webinar, white paper, talk with other clients, chat on line, see a video, etc.)? The customer journey will help you identify where you are meeting needs and where there are gaps in understanding and responding to customer’s needs.
It’s time to re-engineer the buying process from the customer’s point of view. Customers want the references before they even talk to a sales person –not once they are in final price negotiations. They want to talk to real clients to find out what they like and don’t like about your solution. They want to read references from industry thought leaders. They want to understand the solution from the customer’s point of view. They want to talk to buyers just like themselves. They want to see customer created content. They feel confident that other buyers can be trusted, and they strongly influence the potential buyer’s decisions.
Customers have a voice and they want choices. In order to meet these needs companies need to be able to provide relevant content on demand 24/7 in the channel that the customer prefers. Once the potential buyer understands how an investment in your solution will help improve the results for his company he now moves to the consideration step of the customer journey.
At the consideration step the potential buyer has decided that your solution is worth thinking about. He needs more information in order to compare the providers he is considering. The buyer may put out an RFP, ask for some initial pricing and understand what it takes to “implement” the solution in his company. The purpose of this process is to build the buyer’s trust through connecting on a personal level and answering his questions. Customer’s need to know you will be there for them before they are willing to buy. Companies need to help the buyer overcome their fears and provide reassurance that the solution will be effective.This can be done with use cases, demos, ROI calculations, references, on site visits, etc.
A successful sale is not the result of a great salesperson. It is also the result of understanding buyer needs, and addressing them. You need to build the relationship and trust to help the buyer make the decision and become an advocate for your brand. Doing this requires a re-invention of the sales process , better understanding of customers and a focus on creating great content and customer advocates.