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Is Your Sales Process All About You?

September 03, 2015 | By John Thorsen

  • Today, leading sales organizations are paying more attention to the buyer’s journey
  • At SiriusDecisions, we base much of our sales consulting work on understanding the buyer’s journey
  • What are you doing to develop a deeper understanding of your buyer’s journey to win in the marketplace?

While conducting a sales process assessment, I listened with surprise while a sales rep told me that he often sends out proposals to customers who aren’t ready for them yet. When asked why, the rep replied, “Because I need to send out six proposals a month to satisfy my sales activity requirements.” When I probed a little further, the sales rep admitted that he lost almost every one of those opportunities. That’s a lot of effort for no return!

While this is an extreme example, many sales organizations are living with internally focused sales processes developed from principles of repeatable, measurable sales processes that are more than a decade old. Today, leading sales organizations are paying more attention to the buyer’s journey – that is, they understand the decisionmaking process a buyer must go through and develop a sales process that is integrated with that journey.

At SiriusDecisions, we base much of our sales consulting work on understanding the buyer’s journey. Having been involved in developing and deploying sales processes and methodologies for more than 15 years, I am always excited to participate in increasing the level of professionalism in sales by helping sales organizations understand and work with:

  • Knowledge inflection points – the information buyers must gather and understand to move to the next stage of their buying process
  • Observable outcomes – the actions buyers take that reveal where they are in the buying process

Once an organization understands the buyer’s journey, the key is to align its sales assets and process to satisfy the buyer’s knowledge inflection points and to track the observable outcomes. In a recent client workshop that focused on driving this alignment, the client’s marketing and sales organizations were enthusiastic about identifying which sales assets worked best in each sales stage, because for the first time, they shared a common understanding of what the buyer needed in each stage of the buying process.

Why is this so important in today’s b-to-b sales environment? Because b-to-b sales reps matter! In some very recent SiriusDecisions research, b-to-b buyers reported:

  • Buyers gather increasing amounts of information on the Internet, but they interact with sales reps across the entire buying process.
  • Buyers rate sales presentations and dialogues with sales reps as among the most impactful content and interactions as they make their buying decisions.
  • Buyers report high levels of satisfaction with sales reps at the companies whose offerings they decide to buy.

Are your reps limiting their impact on buyers by sending out unsolicited proposals, delivering content that misses the mark, or being out of sync with the steps a buyer must take? What are you doing to develop a deeper understanding of your buyer’s journey to win in the marketplace?

Want to do more to improve your sales process? The SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange is a two-day event that outlines the full breadth of technology options available to sales professionals. It focuses on how to establish a technology vision, create and execute a technology roadmap, and ensure you’re achieving the best possible ROI on your sales technology. A premium is also placed on the importance of emerging sales technologies. Consider joining us.

John Thorsen

John has broad experience in sales operations, sales effectiveness and sales technology, and has consulted to clients ranging from small high-tech startups to Fortune 500 companies. He enjoys helping sales organizations drive improved sales results by identifying the right mix of strategy, process, tools and people for every client. He has helped clients develop consistent, repeatable, buyer-focused sales processes and integrate their learning into sales training and CRM tools to accelerate adoption and execution of the sales process.

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