89% of customers make buying decisions based on experience, ahead of price and product. 6 years ago that number was only 12% - Forrester.
Customer experience becomes more and more important in the B2B market. Companies that succeed in delivering a best-in-class buyer experience have a true differentiator at hand. A customer-centric sales process allows sales organisations to increase the buyer experience and to make customer interactions more qualitative and more impactful, ultimately translated into higher revenue.
Creating that best-in-class buyer experience doesn't happen overnight, it's a thorough exercise where 3 phases are recommended.
- The first one allows you to fully understand your buyer: who are your buyers, what are their needs and how do they want to buy.
- In the second phase you identify key customer interactions, these interactions together form the buyer journey.
- In a third phase you identify the internal sales process steps required to make the key customer interactions successful.
In the paragraphs below more details is given for each of these phases.
Phase 1 - Understand your Buyer
In B2B context companies buy from companies, though in reality it are always people within these companies who make buying decisions. Identifying the people that are required to make the buyer decision to buy your product or service is key.
Once you've defined which stakeholders are driving the buying decision it makes sense to detail them in the form of Personas:
- What is typically the Personas job title.
- What are typically their business drivers or goals.
- What are they accountable for?
- How are they evaluated? What metrics matter?
- What are the challenges they face.
Phase 2 - Design your Buyer Journey
Once you've understand your buyers by defining your Personas a next step is to identify key customer interactions that your buyers need with your sales organisation in order to make a buying decision.
Per key customer interaction you want to define what the goal is of the customer interaction and what the desired outcome of the interaction is for your buyer (gives) and for your sales organisation (gets).
By grouping your key customer interactions you form a part of your buyer journey, namely the part that is supported by your sales organisation. It's highly recommended to visualise the buyer journey on customer-facing documentation allowing your sales representatives to talk to their prospects about how they will help them in resolving their challenges.
Phase 3 - Design your Sales Process to support the Buyer Journey
Once the external key customer interactions are defined you want to complement them by internal activities done by your sales organisation that are required to make your key customer interactions successful. It might be that your sales organisation requires other internal activities to ensure compliance or efficient collaboration throughout the process, adding these non-customer centric activities makes sense to deliver an exhaustive overview to your sales organisation.
While bringing these external and internal activities together you're actually identifying your sales process. As you are mapping your sales stages around these key customer interactions, you ensure that your sales process is customer centric.
By detailing clear and verifiable exit criteria per sales stage you ensure that the quality of your process output (and hence of your customer interactions) is increased and measurable.
While designing your customer-centric sales process it's recommended to take the time to identify how your internal teams within your sales organisation need to collaborate together. Establishing rules of engagement around collaboration will ensure that your teams speak with one voice towards your buyers, resulting in a higher productivity and a better buyer experience.
In conclusion, designing a customer-centric sales process is an exercise that is highly recommended for every B2B sales organisation. The result allows sales organisations to stop reinventing the wheel for every opportunity they are working on, instead the customer-centric sales process allows them to increase the buyer experience and to make customer interactions more qualitative and more impactful.