How to Drive Growth and Build Trust Through Experience-Driven Sales


The numbers are clear: a majority of businesses view the customer experience as a brand differentiator. At every stage of the customer lifecycle, businesses need to deliver great experiences. Yet when the time comes to make a sale, businesses often run into a Catch-22: customers both love to buy and hate being sold to.

Not only that, but expectations around the customer journey have also radically transformed over the past few years. The convenience of omnichannel means that customers want to dictate the sales process of their terms. They want to start a sales call over email and either finish there or move to a phone call. They expect salespeople to know and understand their challenges and treat them as individuals.

To top it all off, customers expect B2C simplicity in a B2B world. “The role of the salesperson has fundamentally changed,” says Prashanth “PVK” Krishnaswami, head of market strategy for Zoho. “These days, the customer journey should be more focused around the experience of the buyer rather than the outcome of the sale itself.”

We spoke with PVK about the changing nature of the buyer’s journey and how an experience-driven sales model can address customers’ needs and desires.

Involve Everyone in the Buyer’s Journey

For salespeople to deliver experience-driven sales, they need all the help they can get from a number of different departments within the organization. “Experience-driven growth involves not just sales, but also service, marketing and operations,” says PVK. “This makes every department a stakeholder in the customer journey.” Working cross-functionally can give salespeople more information about their potential customers than they would have otherwise, increasing the chances of attracting and retaining customers.

Understand Customers’ Needs

An important feature of experience-driven sales is that the customer shouldn’t feel like they’re being sold to. In conversations with customers, sales people should instead strive to understand the customer context as well as their sense of urgency, leading them to the solution in a way that’s natural. “Your salespeople should have a conversation on equal footing, leading the customer to the solution without selling to them,” says PVK. “And it’s critical that you treat potential customers as individuals. Even in a B2B context where your buyer is part of a larger organization, your salespeople need to approach them as individuals, and tailor the experience to their needs and pain points.”

Help Customers Help Themselves

Because there’s more of an expectation on prior research and due diligence, your salespeople need to shift their tactics. They should be knowledgeable enough to answer specific questions, rather than just give a generic overview of your product or service. Chances are, by the time the salesperson gets in front of the customer, the customer will have already read/heard/experienced your high-level sales pitch. What they often need at that moment is to know how your product or service will address their unique challenges.

Sometimes, customers will find solutions to the answers they seek on their own. It’s then the businesses’ job to facilitate customers finding information for themselves. “Everyone does research before they make a sale these days — it’s expected,” says PVK. “Customers expect to go as far as possible on their own and speak to an employee on an as-needed basis. Then, it becomes the employees’ job to expedite the solution as much as possible. But as part of the experience, the employee can enable self service, giving it to the customer as an option for next time.”

Conclusion

These days, customers can spot a fake pitch a mile away. It’s up to companies to make the customer journey as authentic and as natural as possible. “Businesses should try to position themselves as a genuine ally if they want to build trust with consumers,” says PVK. If the customer experience is tailored to the buyer as an individual, with salespeople who demonstrate knowledge of the potential customer’s unique challenges, your customers will be more inclined to make a purchase.

See how Zoho CRM can generate experience-driven sales for your business at zoho.com.

Tim is the senior manager of research and content for Simpler Media Group. In his role he writes content, market guides and data-driven research reports for all of SMG’s internal and external clients.



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