Question: Has your Sales Organisation designed your Sales Engagement Process to align with your customer’s buying cycle, and is it correctly aligned to your customer’s buying cycle?
According to our research at ThinkSales Global, only 35% of Sales Organisations have designed their Sales Engagement Process to align with their customer’s buying cycle. In addition, 30.3% of companies rate their confidence as Outstanding that their Sales Engagement Processes are actually aligned with their customer’s buying cycle.
The ‘Buyer-Led Sales’ Problem
According to four separate surveys conducted by CEB of more than 5 000 stakeholders involved in B2B purchases, it was found that on average 5.4 people have to formally sign off on each purchase.
This is a clear indication that the buying process has fundamentally changed. Today’s buyer is empowered through technology. In decades gone by, sellers were the source of knowledge – now, thanks to the Internet, buyers have access to all the information they need to make decisions without the involvement of sales executives.
Most sales organisations are aware of this change, and yet few have adapted their sales engagement processes to reflect a buyer-led sales process.
Aligning sales processes to the actual progression of buyer readiness is an entirely new way to think about improving sales engagement and performance, but a critical one if you want to remain competitive.
Align your sales process to the buyer’s cycle
There are seven steps to a buyer’s process. They are in control of this journey – instead of fighting against this new reality, build a sales engagement process that supports their journey each step of the way.
1. The discovery phase
Did you know that buyers are often more than halfway through their buying process by the time they engage with a sales executive for the first time?
Where your buyer is in the buying cycle: At this point, your prospect is either starting to realise that they have a problem, or they’re beginning to evaluate why their competitors are taking market share away from them.
What your sales force can do: Your first step is to demonstrate your industry expertise. If you can help your buyer to discover issues they didn’t even know they had, you’re adding value to their organisation beyond selling a solution.
2. Undertake a needs analysis
This is the ideal opportunity to diagnose and assess pain points.
Where your buyer is in the buying cycle: Your prospect understands that they have a problem, and they are looking for a solution.
What your sales force can do: Step one is to determine if your solution can solve their challenge. Don’t pursue a deal if it’s clear you can’t add value – you’re wasting everyone’s time and burning future opportunities. If you do believe there is alignment however, start positioning your strengths as the best partner to solve this problem.
3. Unpack the solution
Remember that buyers are researching the options available to them outside of their interactions with your sales force. Your sales executives need to add value to remain in the room.
Where your buyer is in the buying cycle: Your prospect is researching all available options and comparing solutions.
What your sales force can do: Offer real, unbiased industry research and additional advice outside of your product scope. Your goal is to strengthen your relationship at this point, not close a deal. The more credibility you create, the clearer the value of your solution will be.
4. Present your solution
The best way to present solutions is through a demo backed by an industry-relevant case study and customer testimonial.
Where your buyer is in the buying cycle: Your buyer is now interested in the details – they are seriously considering your solution and need to understand what it will look like inside their organisation.
What your sales force can do: Demo your product and address how the solution would work inside your buyer’s organisation with their specific processes and challenges.
5. Narrow the selection
The elimination round is where many deals stall – either because additional stakeholders don’t give the go-ahead, a different stakeholder manages to win budget for their problem or because a competitor wins the deal.
Where your buyer is in the buying cycle: Costs, features, credibility and relationships start playing a stronger role at this stage as the buyer narrows their options.
What your sales force can do: This is the phase where your champion becomes incredibly important. They will keep momentum going inside the organisation, handle objections from nay-sayers and address concerns. Support them with the information and materials they need, as well as ROI calculations for the financial department.
6. Validating the decision to buy
There are always additional and even hidden stakeholders in a buying decision – make sure you’re prepared for them (and actively seeking them out).
Where your buyer is in the buying cycle: Procurement, compliance and the finance departments are just some of the additional stakeholders that may enter the deal at this stage. Your business’s track record, customer testimonials and proof of ROI all become important at this stage.
What your sales force can do: Don’t drop the ball now. Respond to every request as quickly as possible and work with your contracts department to ensure that the deal doesn’t stall on your end.
7. Negotiate and close the deal
If your sales team follows each of the above steps and is supported by their sales manager and the Sales Organisation as a whole, the result should be deals closed and contracts signed.
- Build a sales engagement process that supports each of the seven steps listed above
- Include metrics that can be tracked at each stage
- Monitor each sales executive’s progress in deal progression and include specific client commitments to track when the deal has moved from one phase to the next.
Assess the health of your sales organisation
Designing a Sales Engagement Process to align with a customer’s buying cycle and ensuring it is correctly aligned are two of 322 measures of a world-class Sales Organisation.
How does your Sales Organisation stack up? Find out by taking the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.
This first-of-its-kind 360-degree gap analysis report enables your Sales Leadership team to assess its strengths and detect weaknesses and impediments to revenue growth across the five pillars of a high performing sales organisation:
- Competitive Strategy
- Customer Engagement
- Sales Talent
- Sales Management
- Sales Enablement
Click here for more information on the ThinkSales 5 Pillar Strategic Sales Assessment™.