In a world where it is increasingly difficult to separate out one offering from the next, sales training aligned to your buyers journey can be a key competitive advantage as it will allow you to deliver relevant experiences matched to each step along the process.
For you to truly understanding your own buyer’s journey will mean embracing the many turns in the path towards a buying decision. You must acknowledge that success comes from a dynamic approach to selling. Many of us already see the effects of a changing buyer’s journey. The question is, can you be proactive in your drive to change with them. It’s not enough to observe that buying has become more complicated. All of us in sales must make the moves necessary to lead the customer and help them navigate the journey.
Let’s start by asking some questions, questions that uncover how much you know about the path buyers undertake when considering a purchasing decision.
Buyer Journey Questions.
A. How well do you understand your buyer journeys today?
B. What are the buying journeys your customers take and what are the critical moments of that journey that we as sellers must enable for our customers?
C. Do you deliver the experiences your buyers need at those critical moments?
D. What insights do you have and need across the buying and selling journey?
E. Do you have the right skill sets and operating model to drive change in mindset and your habits?
F. What will your role be to drive and support sales interactions?
G. Does the way you get rewarded support customer-centric behaviours?
H. Where does the money come from today?
I. Where will (or could) it come from in the future?
The impact of the buyer’s journey on the sales process.
Well, today in many buying scenarios much if not most of journey (around 80%) takes place without direct interaction with suppliers. These are have become known as the ‘silent stages’ or “hidden stages”. Add to this the fact that in many companies there is a severe misalignment between marketing and the frontline salespeople having sales conversations.
Our own research at The Digital Sales Institute would suggest that many salespeople are not actually trained to what they need to know in the digital sales era. Much sales training is still aligned around product training, the sales process and email, which often fail to address the reality how buyers are driving the purchasing journey.
We think it’s time for a change. Salespeople must be trained to think and act with agility. Instead of sales scripts and whitepapers, sales training needs to teach you what experience the buyer is seeking and then coach you on how to walk in your customers shoes. Training tactics that teach you how to do this will help generate a confident salesperson who is capable of and confident in delivering far better customer outcomes.
Where the Buyers Journey Begins.
Whether your buyer’s journey is triggered by gain, pain or loss avoidance, it begins somewhere and by someone. In fact, most buyers’ journeys (over 60%) are as a result of some sort of pain the business is feeling.
These buyer pain types are:
Latent pain: a problem looming on the horizon, but apparently ignored (intentionally or otherwise) by the customer.
Identified pain: the customer is aware of the problem but will live with it in the absence of a satisfactory, affordable solution.
Trigger pain: where the customer is aware of the problem and is takes action to solve it.
Fully understand the gaps.
At the heart of every sales opportunity you identify, there’s a gap. It’s a gap between what buyers have now and what they believe they want in the future, between who they are now and who they want to be tomorrow, or even where they are now and where they want to go. This is called the conversion gap.
If there is No problem, then there is No sale. Problems get you to the impact and the impact is where urgency, value, and need live and where the sale will take root.
If you only solve the problem your buyer thinks they have instead of the one they really have, you haven’t helped them at all.
Understanding the conversion gap is a process of tactfully challenging buyers’ assumptions, exposing (and sometimes confirming) the true size of their problem, then correctly assessing the impact it will have on their lives. All sales are about change. Customers buy because they’ve gotten uncomfortable and have identified something that will ease their discomfort.
Customers do like change when they feel it’s worth the cost. Sales happen when the future state is a better state. You can’t sell a future state (where your customer wants to be) unless you have a firm grasp on your customer’s current state (where your customer is now).
At the rapid pace you are expected to perform at, alignment gaps are bound to occur. This happens when you are loaded with ever increasing amounts of information during sales training days. You are not alone if you struggle to digest all the details you have been given to help you craft a compelling story.
The sad reality is that most organizations respond to this problem by scheduling even more sales training around product and positioning. But you don’t need more of the same information, you need be provided with the tools and messaging that will help you fill the gaps in your sales knowledge.
Sales confidence and the buyer’s journey.
When sales training is aligned to your buyers journey you become more competent and confident. Confidence in sales conversations and storytelling will go a long way in determining your sales success. Numerous studies show that salespeople who feel prepared to have in-depth sales conversations with clients consistently get more commitments to purchase.
Do not be afraid to engage with peer-to-peer learning, online sales training, focus groups, and customer events to build your own knowledge base. Learn the sales habit loop to drive consistent behavior in your daily sales activities.
Empowering yourself to consistently learn, up-skill and align about how the modern buyer buys will build confidence and competence in a way that pushing information on you never can.
Finally, your role as a sales professional is to make buying easier. To have the skill to subtly promote the merits of your solutions, the ability to provide evidence of your expertise and show your clients a clear outcome. This requires, no demands, that sales training aligned to your buyers journey is part of your DNA.