It’s good that your company has a sales process. It helps you track your progress. But don’t expect your customers to care.
Put yourself in their place. Do you care that your vendor has tagged you as a “stage 3 prospect pending champion identification”?
No, of course not. You care that you need a solution to your problem. And because you’ve done this before, you know that you have to get your requirements sorted out, check out the vendor’s credentials and references, get engineering to sign off by having them use and test the solution, make an ROI case so your CFO issues a PO, and so on.
In other words, you have a buying process, and so do your customers.
Just like you, your customers prefer to work with people who make their lives easier. Who help them succeed faster.
When it comes to buying something, your customers prefer to work with people who understand the steps they have to go through and the obstacles they have to get around.
When you give their engineering team access to your demo lab, you save your customer a lot of hassle, and you help them be more confident about you and your company.
When you provide financials documents that satisfy their CFO’s risk mitigation and investment requirements, you’re helping them look like a professional who knows how to get what they need from top-tier vendors.
If you don’t know what they need, and can’t anticipate ways to make the purchase go as smoothly as possible, with the least risk, and with the most reward, your customer’s life becomes more difficult. And nobody likes to do business with people who make their lives more difficult.
The buying process is an excellent place for any product marketing project to begin. You can’t go wrong by creating product marketing tools that help customers buy your products faster.
Take some time to get to know your customers’ buying processes. For big customers, or for customers who buy in a similar way to one another, you can invest in developing a detailed buying process ahead of time.
But even if you can’t afford that level of customization, you can still identify the key steps that most companies go through before buying a solution like yours, and prepare tools, documents, and processes to help them get through those steps faster and with increasing confidence that they’re in good hands when they deal with you. You don’t even need to have the key steps in the right order. Just having the tools for the key steps will allow you to use them when the time is right. That alone will help you accelerate deals that would drag on and on if all you had was your own sales process to guide you.
Your better sales people probably already include this as part of their sales process. They augment the sales process you’ve given them by adding a step where they understand the buyer’s process, then anticipate and tend to their objections.
Learn what your best reps are doing and then make it a procedure for the rest of the team.
For this kind of success to scale, you will need to focus on it in a way that allows everyone from sales, marketing, product management, development, finance, service, everyone, to contribute to developing the buying process, using it, testing it, and improving it.
In an upcoming article I’ll talk about some ways to identify these key buying process steps and to create the tools you need for each of them.
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