Do your customers enjoy working with you? Will they promote you to their peers? Or are they so dissatisfied that they’re counting the days to the end of the contract – when they can get a better experience via one of your competitors.
When you think about your customers’ experience with your company it’s tempting to focus on post-sale implementation and support. But their experience begins long before the contract is signed. It starts with their experience throughout their buyer journey.
Consider your champion. In many B2B sales your champion will be intimately involved in the vetting of vendors and the building of a business case. They’ll spend internal capital on getting your solution in place and negotiate the final deal. But come implementation, they often take a back seat.
Yes, they want to see their decision work effectively, but the day-to-day post sale is often out of their purview. They may even have limited contact with your team until the next renewal or upgrade cycle.
So, the purchasing experience has a major impact on the champion’s perception of your company. How much? A McKinsey study found that that ‘perceived sales experience’ was the second most important criteria among B2B buyers in determining the value of a vendor.
Further, a study by CEB reveals that the sales experience is worth 53% of the buyer’s likelihood to be a loyal customer and brand advocate. In a world where B2B buyers see 80% of their sales engagements as being valueless, it is a major differentiator for your company to deliver a positive, value-based experience.
So, what can you do to enhance your customers’ experience in this critical phase? How can you enhance the buying experience to make your customers long-term advocates
- Simplify Your Buying Process
There are few things more bizarre and frustrating for a buyer than struggling to get a vendor to take their money. Consider your own sales process and the many things that get in between you and your buyer. Your web conferencing system, your email drip programs, your website with its marketing content, and even your contracting process.
Each of these elements may seem ‘business as usual’ to you. But to a buyer they can be added frictions that lead to aggravation. Evaluate your processes from their perspective. Is your web conferencing tool annoying prospects before every one of your meetings? Could you digitize repetitive or annoying processes?
Digitizing processes improves the customer experience by streamlining interactions and delivering more relevant information to prospects. And also to collect better data and feedback so that you can understand what drives performance. For example, marketing can use real-time analytics to tell them what content works, what is missing or needed, and how to focus their efforts.
- Provide Value at Every Stage of the Sale
Your buyer is moving through a process to get from first awareness of the problem you solve to being a customer. To help you need to engage and support them, not pester them at every step. An endless stream of ‘just checking in’ emails doesn’t accelerate anything – or at least anything you’d want.
Instead, you need to evaluate what value you can provide to your prospects throughout the journey. Test what works to advance your prospects. Does a case study support earlier sales conversations? Does a particular demonstration convince technical buyers? How should you confront competitors? How do you build a compelling business case?
Stepping into the buyer’s position to understand what information they need to advance the deal is more effective than focusing on your own needs. Yes, you need to guide the conversation and challenge your buyer. But be valuable to your buyers, not a nuisance.
- Challenge Your Buyer to Be the Hero
Your prospects aren’t sitting idly by, waiting for your call. They are actively engaged in other high-profile, important projects. Your solution is going to be judged versus the other priorities that are already in flight. If it can’t compete, it’s going to get ignored.
That’s why Challenger and Snap Selling methodologies emerged. To confront the harried buyer and challenge the status quo. Making the buyer uncomfortable with their current situation – showing them how much they’re giving up through inaction – can help steer a buyer to adding you to their restacked priorities. But this has more of an impact than just advancing your sale. It affects your buyer’s perception of the experience.
Think of it from your buyer’s perspective. They’re in the process of reshuffling the priorities of their company, pushing your solution to the fore. They’ve invested a lot of internal resources and their own reputation in your solution. That’s not a negative at all; that’s a calculated risk. Your buyer has the opportunity to be a thought-leader in their own organization – someone who’s willing to shift the direction of the company to improve things.
Support their initiative. Provide them with as much internal ammunition as possible to support their business case. That means analyst data, customer successes, and ROI data. And it also means pushing best practices from other customers to help your new customer position themselves for success.
You can make sure your buyers are primed for a long, mutually-beneficial relationship with your company by improving the buyer journey. A rewarding process in these early days will pay dividends over the long haul.