Major Changes in the Sales Landscape That Are Impacting Performance - RDI Corporation - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog
There are major shifts underway in the sales landscape that will radically change how your sales agents interact with customers. Consequently, the strategy you use to maintain peak sales performance will need to shift, as well.
Learn how recent changes in both consumers and businesses impact sales performance, and how you can adapt to the the modern sales environment and help your company win.
Adapting to Today’s More Empowered Consumers
Today’s consumers are more empowered — and have more choices — than ever before. In theory, it’s easy for them to leave your company for a competitor that delivers more customized service or is willing to create a brand new solution to meet their needs.
What’s the key to meeting the expectations of this modern audience? Engage with your customers on a regular basis, get to know their pain points and challenges, deliver great solutions that anticipate their needs — in short, make it much more difficult for them to just walk away from your company.
Delivering a winning value proposition is one of the best ways your sales team can grab the attention of prospects so they don’t feel the need to search for another solution. David Brock of Partners in Excellence writes that “a winning value proposition is giving the customer exactly what they are paying for in each and every exchange.” He goes on to say: “Our value equation is not just the benefits of the solution we deliver for the price we offer, it’s the total experience — do we use their time well, are we delivering ideas and insights that are helpful/meaningful, and important to them — or are we indistinguishable from everyone else?”
In the B2B world, when you take the time to get to know and understand your customers and present them with a solution and experience they can’t get anywhere else, they will notice and reward you with their trust and business — this is the first step to growth in the evolving sales environment.
The Age of the Consumer: Know What Your Audience Wants (and Needs) to Succeed
Sticking to old sales tactics and processes doesn't work in this era; leaders need to be flexible and search for solutions that are customer-centric to outpace competition and see positive growth. In the age of the consumer, sales must be more customer-focused than ever.
It’s your job to understand your customers’ needs and wants and communicate your company’s solutions to customers in an appealing way. David Brock of Partners in Excellence explains that in order to have the “most impact, we have to understand the strategic priorities of the organization. We have to connect our value propositions and business justification directly to how we help the customer achieve their objectives.”
Oftentimes, businesses focus solely on how their products and services will save their customers money. Sure, everyone has an eye on the bottom line, but there are some perks that trump even saving money. Brock goes on to point out that, as a result of this almost single-minded focus on saving the customer money, companies’ “value propositions aren’t really aligned with what’s most important to the customer.”
Anthony Iannarino of the Sales Blog similarly writes: “If you lead with your product, its features and benefits, and focus on the transaction and the price, then your prospective client will treat you like someone who has no ability to create real value.” If you are only focused on the product and your relationship with your client as a transaction, then it’s clear that you really don’t understand your client’s needs, wants and drivers.
Instead of only being focused on saving the customer money, Brock says: “It’s critical to understand the key strategic priorities of the enterprises our customers work for, as well as the consequent priorities in their functions.” Perhaps this particular client is highly motivated by saving money, or perhaps they are more interested in tapping into new markets. Perhaps they are looking to grow their sales team in the coming year. You need to learn what drives your customer and then tailor your solutions to meet their needs.
Help Your Customers Grow to Spur Your Own Growth
In the age of the consumer, working hard to truly understand what drives your customers so you can offer and market the appropriate products and services is an ongoing process. Iannarino calls for a “consultative” approach in which you continuously interface with your customer to cultivate a deeper understanding of their needs and, therefore, give them even better solutions. He explains the importance of learning first and selling second: “…you start with the highest level of value creating conversations and only get to what you sell when it is appropriate and relevant.”
Similarly, Pete Caputa of HubSpot explains that, instead of telling potential customers right off the bat that he wants to sell them something,
“I strive to portray myself as an expert who is graciously and generously making myself available to help them.“ Make it clear to your customers and potential customers that you are, first and foremost, here to help. Selling them the solution that may fix their business problem will come only after you understand how their business works and the challenges they’re facing.
Caputa goes on to say: “Before you ask for their business, you’re helping them weigh the benefits, risks, upside, and downside of making a decision to move forward — or not. You’re uncovering the mental process that most prospects go through, and getting them to share it with you.” This is a valuable process, and listening to customer needs, carefully coaching your team on communicating your company’s value proposition and working to help your customers succeed is a surefire strategy to reach today’s empowered consumer.
The Customer Experience: Moving Beyond Just Churning Out Great Products and Services
If sales leaders don't try to adapt their processes and outlooks to create an engaging customer experience in this era, then performance will become poor and growth will remain stagnant. Blake Morgan of Forbes explains that “brands need to start improving customer experience right away. They don’t have the luxury to continue to serve customers bad products and services until it financially makes sense for the brand.” Companies must actively work towards improving their customer experience today, so they don’t risk losing savvy customers to their competitor who is working hard to provide an excellent customer experience. Morgan goes on to say: “There are too many options. Customers today will gladly leave you for the brand that is ready and willing to work on improvements right away.”
Even if your product is the very best available in the marketplace, you can’t convert leads into customers without delighting them with an unforgettable, custom customer experience. David Brock of Partners in Excellence explains: “If we deliver a product that works, but the experience of using that product, interacting with the company, or the sheer ‘hassle factor’ is more than the price the customer is willing to pay, then the customer needs to go somewhere else.” You must deliver not only the very best solution you can offer to your customers, but also the very best overall experience that makes doing business with your company a pleasure.
Engaging With Your Team to Ramp Up Your Customer Service
Your customer service team — the front line who interacts with your customers on a daily basis — is a great place to start when you’re looking to improve your customer experience. This is the team that hears customer challenges and struggles on a daily basis, and is therefore well positioned to suggest points for improvement. Leyla Seka of Entrepreneur suggests connecting your service and sales teams for big customer experience impact: “When you share customer information in real time, sales and service both have the 360-degree views they need to collaborate more effectively and be more productive.”
Seka also points out that your service team is “a great source of information about what customers are looking for in future products.” Connect your service team with your product team for powerful product collaborations and new developments. Similarly, your customer service team can consult with your marketing department to help them craft a message and voice that really speaks to customers. In addition, connect your service team with your finance team to validate pricing and packaging concerns that they hear straight from customers.
If you’re currently working in a siloed company, break down the walls between departments and develop a company-wide strategy to provide an experience your customers won’t forget. In an era where consumers have higher expectations than ever before, doing so will keep them from finding a better solution in your competitors.
Shift Your Sales Performance Strategy Now to Stay Ahead of the Competition
In today’s age of the consumer, it’s key that you adapt to customer needs so they choose your company over the many other available options in the marketplace. You must work hard everyday to understand your customers’ challenges and pain points — before you try to sell them anything.
Teach your sales staff to ask smart questions and really listen. If they strive to form meaningful relationships with leads and customers, not only will it help boost sales performance, but you can get the insights you need to break down departmental silos and facilitate an overall improved customer experience.
As you enter this new era, embrace a customer-focused strategy to enhance your sales team’s performance and help your company reach its growth potential.
Publish Date: February 4, 2016 5:00 AM
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