Unless you’ve been living in a cave (or selling in one), you will have noticed that customers today are not only self-educated, but also seek peer level interactions about your organisation and products before they buy from you. They’ve got the power, the knowledge, and pretty much control the buying process these days. This is great news if you’re the customer in this scenario. Not so much if you’re the sales person. Most sales reps crave the advantage – an elusive thing in today’s climate.
So what should you be doing to help level the playing field? There are insights and clues all around you every day. Let me give you an example. Your prospects are seeking peer level influence and opinion. Your organisation should be harvesting knowledge of past interactions with similar customers to glean best practices and share new approaches to solving business problems.
Likewise, being active in social networks means you can watch and listen as customers proceed on their own through the early stages of product awareness. You can monitor this process to evaluate when the time is right to enter the conversation or collaborate on particular topics. You should also be presenting yourself as an influencer by tweeting externally, blogging, responding to queries, and establishing your own credibility.
In short, you’ve got to up your game on the social and mobile front. But your organisation also needs to step up to the plate. That means better tools and processes to help give sales reps the complete customer view. The evolving nature of the customer – and by implication the sales teams – requires a new approach to meet these challenges head on. I think there is a general shift away from simply applying automation to certain elements of the sales process, and instead move to a wider view of intelligently orchestrating the process. By better orchestrating the customer’s journey through the salient business process and looking at things in context, the overall buying experience can be managed much more successfully for the satisfaction of both customers and organisations.
For example, social CRM systems should sift through the vast amount of real-time news updates, social data and online information, looking for buying triggers relevant to each customer and the problems that your organisation can solve for them. Harnessing the analytic capabilities exposed within the context of buying and selling helps you turn this valuable insight into action.
But here’s the rub. Simply throwing new technology at the problem isn’t the answer. Companies must update their sales processes to match the needs to this new climate of customer interaction where the conversation begins at a higher level than the “solution evaluation” phase. This means deciding on best practices for your buying process, creating personalised and contextually relevant customer experiences, and ensuring you have the management support in place to make it happen.
Take a look at the complimentary report below for strategies you can take in 2015!
Happy New Year!