Selling with a plan: Bridging the gap between customer experience and expectations

Despite the paradigm shift that CRM brought to the world of sales, enterprises are still struggling with failure rates wildly disproportionate to the sales teams’ talent and hard work.

Customers and prospects today are smart, data savvy and very well informed before they even speak to a salesperson. This makes them more educated and demanding than ever before. However sales teams are having a hard time adapting to the needs of the digital era: many still tend to approach customers and prospects without understanding their needs and their priorities, or how they measure success.

This lack of understanding of the customers and how they want to buy leads to frustration and usually ends up in an unsuccessful conversion. As a result, sales teams scramble to win new business and miss massive opportunities to upsell, cross-sell and maximize customer value.

According to the CRO Benchmark study 2019, 62% of first sales meetings don’t progress to the next meeting because the prospective customer doesn’t see value. This should come as no surprise - the study showed that most sales people have barely any insight into their customers’ business before attempting to sell to them.

Companies look to sales people as trusted allies in the search for a solution to fill a need they have, and it’s important for sales professionals to communicate with the buyers in order to understand their desired outcome before pushing their own product. In short, a one-size-fits-all approach is a recipe for failure. Every sale must be tailored to the specific needs and desired outcomes of each particular customer or prospect, understanding their organizational structure and their buying process.

Knowing your customer includes knowing your customer’s customers. What is your customer’s business trying to solve for them? What are their desired outcomes, and what places does your product take in facilitating them? The answers to these questions can only be found if the entire revenue team constantly discovers and shares all intelligence, putting together a picture of customers’ and prospects’ needs that will help move the sale forward.

Each interaction with the customer - whether it involves marketing, customer success, sales or even finance and legal - will yield valuable information that help deliver value and unlock new revenue opportunities. Every conversation with a customer or prospect is an opportunity to demonstrate credibility, bringing insight to the conversation, creating and delivering — not just communicating — value. In the absence of a plan and a deep understanding of your customer, many sales interactions stumble, where they should stride. In fact, according to our research, 40% of all surveyed sales, marketing and IT professionals felt that sales meetings don’t have a clear plan for success.

This focus on value creation not only enables access to appropriate executives to harness the value of relationship selling, but also a joint value creation based on a shared understanding of customer needs. Successful selling and revenue optimization require the ability to get an insight into how decision-making power and influence work inside their customers’ businesses, navigate their hierarchy and understand the short- and long-term goals. This creates long-lasting, trust-based relationships between the seller’s team and the customer, bringing mutual benefit and support.

Companies that fail to understand this shift will find it increasingly hard to deliver predictable revenue growth and sales success.

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