I think we all know that the customer has changed. I don’t think anyone needs to be reminded of that but how has enterprise sales been affected by this and what have sales organizations done to adapt to these changes?
According to Gartner, by 2020 customers are going to manage 85% of their interaction with the enterprise without a human. Now, that’s scary. I'm not sure quite frankly if that’s remotely going to happen but clearly all of us do know that there is a massive movement towards automation.
This blog is an insert of our recent webinar on "Winning In The Enterprise: Emerging Trends Within Top Global Companies" To listen to the full-length audio recording, you can click below.
Humans Bring Friction Into The Buying Process
Jill Rowley, Social Selling Evangelist mentions, “Humans often times bring friction into the buying process.” As she tells the story of her car buying experience. "I didn’t go to a dealership, a traditional dealership. I actually went online to CarMax and I was able to see what their inventory was, narrowed it down to the manufacturers, the different vehicles that I was interested in. I was able to look at pictures of the specific vehicles and look at the stats and essentially go to the lot and feel in touch with the actual vehicle and, you know, make the purchase without any haggling or price negotiations."
There’s a lot of blurring between work and personal in sales. Due to this blur, buyers want a frictionless purchasing process and they do not want to be haggled which is why many enterprise companies are starting to progress towards a seamless buying experience.
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B2B Buyers Want A B2C Experience
"Buyers are looking for the B2C experience to be brought into the B2B work environment" according Kevin Casey, Head of Sales Training at Thomson Reuters. It is clearly the trend which has been magnified by the services such as Amazon.
In addition, businesses have less time for vendors whether it’s too much of a workload, whether it’s the ability to educate themselves, find out the information online. CEB states that buyers are 57% way through the journey before we even engage with an organization. It’s a telling fact.
As Kevin Casey, Head of Sales Training and Development at Thomson Reuters states, "The good news is that still roughly 57% of the journey is undertaken before they meet the sales rep. The bad news is that they haven't regressed, right?"
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They haven't in the past five years said, “We need to find out more from that sales rep.” So again, it’s a very telling statistic and addition to that, it’s any number of things but what we’ve narrowed it down in terms of what we need to do going moving forward is looking at we have a better educated customer.
We have be able to give more of that B2C experience by giving access to content and information to make decisions. We have to really figure out how we effectively engage the customers because the days of golf and the days of going to a baseball game at night are quickly fading.
An Infinite Source of Information
Most buyers view a significant amount of relevant content from the chosen vendor in the very early stages their buying journey. They now have access to multiple channels in content. Everyone can give you white papers of a company or case studies or they can follow webinars and so on.
So there is a lot information out there and because of all this, enterprise companies have to adapt to it. They have to adopt these approaches and, of course, it’s easier said than done but it’s a matter of having the right mindset and skills set.
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Christian Obando, Director of Inside Sales, EMEA at Juniper Networks thinks sales professionals must provide revelant information to buyers and become a trusted resource. "It’s about surrounding your customers from different angles and nurturing them with relevant information very early in the buying journey. It’s about making sure you help the customer overcome certain challenges."
To do this, the sellers has to to feed them with content or be an eye-opener to your customers, it’s then when you can really influence their decision. Once they get all this information, they have pretty much made up their mind already once you start really engaging with them.
It’s inevitable that sales leaders and professionals have to adapt. For example, we had a big project, very exciting project last year in UK with one of my sales guys and it exactly started this way. The customer – the sales guy in my team, he started to target one of the customers in a very early stage of the sales cycle. He understood by really qualifying the customer what potential needs and issues could be and he started to feed the customer with information and influenced in the end of the day the customer’s decision.
Guide Your Buyer From Information Into Knowledge
The saying goes, “The buyer has changed more in the last 10 years than in the previous 100.” As the buyer continuously changes, so must the seller which is why many enterprise companies have begun to shift their buying experience. The internet has given today’s buyer access to a sea of information. However, similar to a library, the buyer can get lost.
As a seller, your responsibility to the buyer is to serve, to guide the buyer through the information, to connect the dots and turn information into knowledge. By becoming a resource, you then remove the friction within the sales process and enable the buyer to make more informed decisions.