Buyers Journey Part 4 – Misaligning the sales process and the buyer’s journey at closing

So far in this video series, we have established that you should design your sales process to match the buyer’s journey. We have looked at one or two places where, if you are not careful, your sales process can easily be misaligned. At the very least, that will bump up your cost of customer acquisition.

In this last video in the series, I want to cover one other area where I often see a mismatch between the sales process and the buyer’s journey. And it is where companies lose a lot of sales.

It happens during the research phase of the buyer’s journey. Some people also refer to this as the consideration phase.

As we have discussed before, we can divide this into two different stages.

Two Stages Of Research

The first is general solution’s research. And we have covered this previously. This is general subject matter information and should be vendor neutral. So this is the time when you should be offering white papers and guides and other information to help the buyer with their research.

The next step, however, is vendor specific. At some point, buyers need information that they can only find by asking a vendor. This is detailed information that buyers need to make comparisons between vendors. So, I’m looking for pricing information, technical specs, or availability or maybe even a demo.

Now, if this is a simple product, I might be able to do that using information on your website.

But for non-commodity products and services, and that covers many B2B sales, buyers will have questions beyond the basics. So, as a buyer, I will have to make contact and ask questions to get the data I need.

Premature Sales Activity

Now, the problem with this for me as the buyer is that once I have made an inquiry, I have declared myself interested in your product. And this is where it all goes horribly wrong. I have now opened myself up to the relentless onslaught of the sales process.

So this is where the mismatch happens. At this point, I am not ready to commit to a particular solution. I’m just looking for information to make comparisons between vendors. However, from the salesperson’s point of view, here is somebody who is expressing an interest in the product they are selling. What are they supposed to do?

Well, unless they are very well trained, they are trying to go after the sale. It is like throwing red meat into a tank full of Piranhas. I am sure you have had this experience yourself. You make contact with a vendor to get some details and, wham! You are suddenly under siege. Calls, emails, it is very intrusive and unwanted at this stage.

Pressuring Buyers Is Counter-Productive

Pressuring buyers at this delicate point in the buyer’s journey when they are trying to make comparisons is seriously counter-productive. Just at the moment when a salesperson needs to show they are trustworthy, they start pushing and demonstrating that they want to sell, sell, sell.

Companies lose sales because the buyer withdraws from the barrage of unwanted communication. You can’t fault the salesperson. This is what they are expected to do. It’s called lead nurturing in sales training. And it’s a great thing when done well.

But often it is done badly. And the sale goes to the vendor that was helpful but not pushy. So if you look at your sales pipeline and you see a drop out at the hot prospect stage, take a close look at how your sales force handles a new prospect. If you are like most of the B2B sales processes that I look at, I would be willing to bet that the training, incentives and the mindset of your typical sales person combine to produce a less than optimal result. And that’s costing you sales.

Consider The Buyer’s Journey As The Starting Point For The Sales Process

So, I hope this exploration of the sales process and the buyer’s journey has been useful. I hope I have made a case to consider the buyer’s journey as the starting point for the design of your sales process. And if your sales process is well established, at least consider if it is alignment with the buyer’s journey.

If you accept that your product should match the buyer’s needs, shouldn’t your sales process match the buyer’s purchasing process?

Happy processes!

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