6 min read

Align Your Sales Process with the Buyer's Journey

Align Your Sales Process with the Buyer's Journey

Why? Because its a game changer!

 

Buyers and sellers may seem like they're from different planets. On one side, buyers have their needs and benefits to consider, while on the other side, sellers have their revenue goals and customer satisfaction to prioritise. It's like buyers are on a thrilling journey, while sellers are following a well-defined process. But the truth is, successful sales and marketing teams find a way to navigate both paths and achieve their desired outcomes.

Gartner research finds that "when B2B buyers are considering a purchase‚ they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6%."

Gartner B2B buyers chart

 

Way back when and the here and now 

We've all heard countless tales about how the buyer's journey is changing - how it's becoming more like a wild rollercoaster ride, with buyers taking control like never before. And it's true, to a certain extent. But what's not true, despite what many people believe, is that the journey has now become a random walk, with buyers leaping from one stage to another with no rhyme or reason. The truth is, savvy sellers know better.

Today, we'll spill the beans on how these top performers stay ahead of the game - and how sales enablement plays a crucial role in establishing strong connections between the sales process and the buyer's journey.

No doubt, the modern buyer is much better informed, with easier access to information they are able to do much more research online, but they still have barriers to overcome - 

As hard as it has become to sell in today’s world, it has become that much more difficult to buy. The single biggest challenge of selling today is not selling, it is actually our customers’ struggle to buy. 

Brent Adamson | Distinguished VP, Advisory | Gartner

How much friction is there in your buyer's journey? Could it be improved?  Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of aligning your buye's journey with the sales process, let's take a quick trip down memory lane.

Mercedes Benz classic carJust like the classic stages of the buyer's journey, the fundamentals of sales and marketing have remained unchanged. The decision-making process, especially for complex purchases, still follows the same tried-and-true pattern that has been around for decades.

Whether you're buying a fancy new car, a top of the range watch that's a tad out of your budget, or cutting-edge enterprise software, the journey remains consistent.

While some stages may occasionally be breezed through (perhaps you're already well aware of the existence of designer watches) and there may be some circularity (for instance, reaching the negotiation phase only to stumble upon a new solution and restart the whole process), the buyer's journey of the future will still be recognisable. What will change, however, is how sales teams adapt and make the most of it.

When we compare the classic sales process to the buyer's journey, it's really clear that many of today's sales teams are struggling to align the two.

Buyers journey and sales process

So, the burning question for sales and marketing teams is: How can I tweak my sales process to fit seamlessly into the buyer's journey?

For sales managers who want to boost their reps' effectiveness and ensure consistency in leveraging sales content for maximum impact, revising the sales process is a game-changer.

The main reason is that it forces businesses to truly understand the needs of their target audience. Instead of focusing solely on a scripted sequence of product- or service-first messages, aligned businesses prioritise guiding buyers through their journey. They tailor their process to match buyers' needs while still having the flexibility to challenge, support, and advise them at every stage.

By investing the necessary upfront time in executing this strategy, aligned businesses position themselves for significantly improved sales effectiveness.

Take a look at the example below illustrating an aligned sales process mapped against the buyer's journey. This process is certainly more customer-centric.

sales process aligned to buyers journey

 

FIVE SIMPLE STEPS TO successfully ALIGN YOUR SALES PROCESS WITH THE BUYER'S JOURNEY

 

1: Reframe stage definitions and goals

Begin by creating a table that illustrates the buyer's journey on the top row. Then, skip three rows and add your sales process. In the second row, outline what the buyer hopes to achieve at each stage of the sales process. In the third row, jot down your own objectives for each stage. This will provide you with a comprehensive overview of your sales process and the journey your audience goes through. Take a moment to assess if they align. If they do, fantastic! If not, read on for the solution.

For many sales teams, reframing stage definitions and goals can swiftly resolve any misalignment. For example, a common stage in the sales process is to "qualify" potential buyers by determining their likelihood of making a purchase within a reasonable timeframe. However, from the buyer's perspective, their objective is often "committing to change."

By reframing your stages and goals, you can bridge the gap between seller and buyer perspectives, leading to more impactful conversations. To facilitate this process, keep the following questions in mind:

  • Can your buyers clearly articulate the problem they are trying to solve?
  • Can you assist buyers in refining the scope of their problem?
  • Does your company have the capability to solve your buyer's problem, and is solving that problem part of your sales process?
  • Is your buyer genuinely committed to making a change? Can you help them evaluate the pros and cons of that change?
  • Can you assist buyers in identifying, involving, and convincing others within their organisation that they share the same need?

Answering these questions will enable you to establish a content and engagement strategy that aligns with your buyers' demands. To support your sales process from start to finish, consider utilising a sales enablement platform that not only offers the expected content capabilities but also provides customer engagement and analytics.

So, you want to make sure your sales process aligns with the buyer's journey? Great! Here are a few questions to keep in mind as you reframe your stages and goals:

  • Can your buyers clearly explain what problem they're trying to solve?
  • Can you help buyers narrow down the scope of their problem?
  • Does your company have the capability to solve your buyer's problem, and is solving that problem part of your sales process?
  • Is your buyer truly committed to making a change? Can you help them weigh the pros and cons?
  • Can you assist buyers in getting others within their organisation on board with their needs?

Answering these questions will help you establish a content and engagement strategy that truly meets your buyers' demands.  There are a number of sales enablement platforms that go beyond just content capabilities and includes customer engagement and analytics. This can give your sales process the boost it needs from start to finish.

2: Spotting the Gems

Once you've aligned your process steps, it's time to uncover those hidden gems of value for your buyers at each stage. Forget about just focusing on product features and capabilities – it's all about evaluating the perfect solution and addressing the different perspectives within your buyer's organisation. So shift your mindset from "What can I get from the buyer?" to "How can I help the buyer get what they truly need?" This simple shift is the key to unlocking better sales performance.

3: Unearth the Must-Haves

Help buyers round up the essential resources they need to achieve their goals. One way to become their go-to source is by delving into the following categories:

Product and solution education: What product specifications, solution guides, industry-specific materials, or advice from industry experts do your buyers need? Where in the buyer's journey will this information be most beneficial?

Embracing change: What analyst reports, case studies, or ROI calculators can demonstrate the necessity for a change in direction?

Solution selection: How can you utilise evaluation checklists, comparison charts, third-party advice, and product trials to assist buyers in choosing from various options? Does your sales process address this need at the most opportune stage of the buyer's journey?

Validation of selection: Alleviate your buyers' concerns by referencing proof-of-value trials, customer testimonials, and insights from industry experts.

Once you've gained clarity on the above, ensure that your reps can easily locate, share, customise, and analyse the content that fulfils these crucial buyer requirements.

4: Put it to the Test

Sales processes changes are critical, so it's important to follow the old saying "measure twice, cut once." We suggest identifying a handful of superstar sales reps who already have a knack for putting the customer first. The reason? They'll likely have immediate, market-validated feedback and recommendations on whether or not sales process revisions line up with the buyer's journey. (Note: Many of these reps are probably already involved in your sales enablement strategy.)

To really gauge the effectiveness of your new process, consider running a pilot program. Train a subgroup of your sales team on the benefits of aligning your sales process with the buyer's journey, and show them how to put guidance into action. If your sales cycle is long or complex, it might be tough to get statistically significant results from a small sample size. But trust your salespeople's gut feelings in the meantime – they'll quickly let you know if it's working or not, and their insights will be valuable until you can gather more data.

5: Get Your Sales Game On!

Now comes the fun part - codifying, training, and committing to your new and improved sales process and create the new playbook. We all know that change is never easy, but by investing in training, you'll give your reps the tools they need to fully grasp the power of your revamped process and how it can make a positive impact on their performance.

But that's not all! If you haven't done so already, it's time to bring your playbook into the digital age. By delivering your playbook in a user-friendly, bite-sized format, you'll give your reps the head start they need to hit the ground running. Trust us, this is hands down one of the best ways we've seen to streamline your sales process and propel your organisation forward at lightning speed.

 

KEEP CRUSHING IT GUYS!

With modern sales enablement platforms, your reps can seamlessly connect their sales process to the buyer's journey. This means they stay in control of the customer dialogue, delivering the perfect message at just the right time to the right audience. In a nutshell, they dodge chaos by harnessing technology and insights to steer engagement in a super productive direction. 

The better you align perspectives on the buyer's journey and sales process, and use them to fine-tune your sales content strategy, the more effective your reps will become. Obviously you'll need to adjust your content for context all while staying on brand and on message, thats where smart tools like Dokio make it quick and easy to curate content that resonates with your buyer.

So with your new found superpowers go forth and conquer those sales goals 2024!

 

Useful links

What is Full-Cycle Sales?

Reclaim your selling time

When your pipleline's a lemon, make lemonade

What is HubSpot Sales Hub?

 

 

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