Your sales team can bridge the gap in buyer expectations and sell through B2B disruption by listening at scale and engaging in the moment.
Even after a year of the pandemic, field sales organizations are still grappling with massive disruption. By this point, most teams have navigated the shift to all-virtual sales cycles to varying degrees of success. Bain & Co. reports that 50% of sales interactions were virtual even before the pandemic due to faster communication and cost effectiveness. But the real disruption is still lingering: Business needs are changing, budgets are razor-thin, product offerings are being reinvented in real time. These are the issues making or breaking your revenue engine today.
If you’re getting a migraine just thinking about them, there’s good news. The key to overcoming these obstacles is intuitive and accessible; it’s deeper buyer engagement. Or, more fundamentally, it’s listening. In a recent buyer survey, Rain Group research reports that 68% of buyers rate being listened to as having a high influence on their purchase decision. Yet, in the same report, only 26% of buyers say sellers are competent listeners.
Let’s take a look at ways your team can bridge the gap in buyer expectations by listening at scale and in the moment with deeper B2B buyer engagement.
Engaging buyers post-cycle with a request to provide feedback, whether the deal was won or lost is crucial to gaining perspective and making the most of each sales experience. A seller may find that the champion you created within the organization lost confidence in you as a sales partner midway through the cycle due to untimely responses.
These insights don’t just apply to individual sellers, they often cover the breadth of the sales process providing insight for sales leadership to drive cross-functional change. For example, a seller may be surprised to find that the competitive loss they faced had nothing to do with feature functionality gaps that were exposed in the RFP, and everything to do with price. But when analyzed in aggregate, sales leadership may realize your team almost always loses on price when facing that competitor with that use case. With this information, they can coach sellers to steer clear of these cycles or find ways to create a more competitive pricing structure.
Not only can understanding these patterns help sellers avoid pitfalls, but it can also help leaders identify the winning strategies and propositions their teams should focus on. Remember, in the 4 Disciplines of Execution Franklin Covey says that “20% of activities produce 80% of results.” If you give them the opportunity, your buyers will guide you to exactly what comprises your team’s 20%.
By engaging buyers at critical points in the sales cycle, sellers and sales leaders can gain valuable insight to optimize strategy.
We’ve all seen it before: An energized sales team comes out of a meeting knowing they nailed it. Yet, despite the flawlessly executed presentation or demo, the buyer has little interest in a follow-up meeting and the team is left wondering what happened to cause the lost opportunity.
But why wait for the big L to find out what happened? We ask the sales professional for insight, and we look into the CRM for understanding — but we are missing the perspective of the prospect! With the right tools, sellers can find and overcome barriers before it’s too late. By engaging buyers at critical points in the sales cycle (post-meeting, after RFP, when a champion goes quiet, etc.) sellers and sales leaders can gain valuable insight to optimize strategy and uncover learnings that can be applied across the sales organization.
You may be thinking, “My team works hard to build strong buyer champions. We can just ask them how things are going.” This puts the onus of the whole relationship on the seller, when in fact, the seller could be the issue. Maybe the prospect desperately wants to buy your product or service, but the sales lead is rubbing everyone in the buying committee the wrong way, calling the judgment of your champion into question.
Even outside of these extreme personality differences, it’s critical to make an early connection between your brand and the buyers to demonstrate the customer-first mindset of your organization and to ensure the relationship being developed runs deeper than who is assigned to the account.
Sharing new logo wins is fun, but it probably will not shock anyone to hear there’s a world of opportunity in your current customer base. Especially right now when budgets are more heavily guarded, making incremental increases in existing investments to solve a pain point can be more palatable to the risk-averse CFO than signing on with unproven vendors.
The problem many sales teams face in seizing these opportunities comes down to hours in the day. Sellers simply do not know when or where they’ll strike gold within their current book of business.
It’s critical to make an early connection between your brand and the buyers to demonstrate the customer-first mindset of your organization.
At Medallia, we tackle this problem by engaging buyers throughout the customer lifecycle with opportunities to share feedback and by leveraging the bidirectional sync between the Medallia Experience Cloud and Salesforce along with promoter and detractor notifications to alert sellers to buyer insights in real time. This helps them better understand the health of their business, drive cross and up-sell, and secure renewals.
In just one example of how engagement drives opportunity, a large retailer shared feedback that included a desire to consolidate vendor spend and see omnichannel views across the business. Based on the feedback, we partnered to build an action plan which resulted in a 33% increase in annual contract value to Medallia and a cost decrease to the client.
The disruption we’re all facing demands a new approach to sales effectiveness that focuses on listening in the moment and at scale to meet the needs of today’s B2B buyers. But if you don’t ask, there will be nothing — and eventually no one — to listen to. Use these buyer engagement tips to accelerate deal closure, improve win rates, and uncover hidden opportunities.