We let our competitors stay focussed on us so we can stay focussed on our customers. It’ll work out great for us!Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO.
I was delivering a training session a couple of weeks ago, helping business owners get to grips with their business development. One of the topics we speak about in this training is delivering excellent customer service. But in a modern world, in a new sales environment, what the heck does that even mean anymore?!
I would argue that we continue to be, if not become steadfast with, delivering a buying experience that suits our own selling habits; and this in itself is a problem of the modern sales person. Remember, if your sales environment has changed, it’s time to adapt your methods for selling. If not, you run the very real risk of getting left behind.
One of the key learnings from Plan, of our Plan. Grow. Do. sales training programme is this;
Don’t sell how you like to buy. You must sell how your buyer like to buy.Steve Knapp, Plan. Grow. Do.
This simple nuance, putting your customer first, is paramount to the approach that makes Plan. Grow. Do. one of the regions’ most effective sales training programmes. Our methodology focusses first on the customer and builds a plan and process to support these profiles throughout.
Think of sales as your output. If sales, therefore, is the output of your activity, the customer focussed inputs should all be helping make it easy for your buyer to buy!
So back to the training, I was delivering that was talking about delivering 5* customer service…many of the business we speak with are proud to offer up a reference point of being great at their technical side of work, the tidy work, the success, the transaction volume. But in reality, this risks looking inward at ourselves and our personal successes, not the customer requirements for what good really looks like here. We focus on the relationship between the quality of our product, a one size fits all solution without really putting the customer first. Our sales outputs will improve the more we can better our sales inputs and activities.
Online / Offline. A winning approach to a modern sales process.
By addressing the customer needs, emotional motivation, buying habits and hangouts, we can build a purposeful and joined up approach to communicate with the buyer, to be available to guide the relationship in a way that is win-win.
Your selling activity needs to be personal to your buyer.
A helping hand. How helping your buyer buy will make your selling process easier.
Sales and marketing must work together
Is it sales or is it marketing?
You need to be showing up where your customer expects you to show up. Not where you enjoy most hanging out, but where your customer would expect to bump into you, to communicate with you and have an easy experience of building a meaningful relationship. We know that over 90% of every decision starts online and we also know that over 80% of potential customers are negatively influenced by reading negative feedback and reviews.
What may be seen as more traditional ‘marketing’ inputs; reviews, feedback and digital presence, are now the responsibility or the seller and therefore an understanding of a joined-up approach to build a modern sales plan and sales process must paramount in your understanding and development.
You must offer insights, not just information
Are you simply shouting about your products or services and expecting people who may have no prior knowledge or experience of you or your business to flock to your network and buy, buy, buy? If we are just broadcasting noise in to an already cluttered digital and traditional space we run the risk of just playing a game of luck.
Luck is not a sales strategy you can rely on!
What are controllable inputs to generate a better sales outcome?
Identify your perfect buying persona
Not everyone is your customer – and that’s ok! But by taking the step back and deliberately profiling who, where, when and why your perfect customer would likely buy from you, you can take real actionable steps to find more of them and make your entire inputs and efforts focussed on talking to them, connecting with them and building relationships that are meaningful alongside them.
Build a process that matches your buyers buying journey
From our Online Live sales training that is helping businesses in the Sheffield City Region find the confidence and process to sell in what is a changing world, it is becoming more and more apparent that businesses do not have a sales process. Around 80% of those we help have no sales process. It’s staggering but something we are here to help support. An effective sales process helps you manage the opportunities across your pipeline, to make it easier for your buyers and to manage your own workload. Not every opportunity will close and an effective sales process will help you manage the pipeline in an effective way to allocate enough resources to those opportunities who need it, making you more effective and more efficient.
Align your sales and marketing to sing from the same sheet
Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin. I hope you realise now that by joining the dots and appreciating how sales can support marketing and marketing can support sales, you are going to start creating meaningful inputs in to your process that supports the ease of the customer journey. You will be making it easy for the buyer to answer your question of ‘where next?’
Some suggestions for improving your personal performance, mindset and approach to sales.
Get known for something.
By becoming known for something you start to become a reference point in your industry. Why is this important? Well, let’s look at some figures.
Why should you aim to be a leader in your industry?
- 62% of buyers are ready to connect with salespeople
- 76% of buyers ready to engage with potential providers
- 92% of buyers willing to engage with an industry thought leader
Think about the subtleties of the stats here. The difference between willing to connect and willing to engage are two totally different things. If you charge away and stuff your network full of connections who are never likely and simply sharing your ‘buy now’ messages to this network, you are running the risk of behaving how your buyer doesn’t want to engage with, you’d be behaving as a sales person. Yet if you can think about the gaps and opportunities that are available to make you the go-to person in your sector, you are then becoming that thought leader which means your engagement with the relevant people will go up drastically.
Position yourself in the eyes of your buyer as the guide.
By becoming an authority about your industry, you become an industry leader within it.
Avoid job snobbery
Job snobbery is a bit of a bug bear of mine. I think every person in the business has the same responsibility to put the customer first. The customer experience across the journey must be seamless and no matter who the buyer expects to be able to speak with, if it’s you, then you must take ownership of this and help make it easier for the buyer to buy.
We have an article dedicated to world of job snobbery that hopefully helps you step outside the job title positioning and more in to a joined up approach for success in sales…
What do other experts say about inputs, outputs and the customer focus for better business performance?
What does Jeff Bezos think that makes an excellent buying journey? What are the key inputs for Amazon’s immense sales outputs? Customer obsession!
The biggest takeaway for me here is that customer obsession isn’t necessarily a focus on customer service, this is a happy by-product of customer obsession. What (I think) he means by customer obsession is the core focus on the individual customer experience. The unique shopping experience is just that, unique to us all. Amazon have created such a culture of innovation focussed around the customer experience and customer data points that it cannot help but sell more to each of it’s users.