Richard gives us insight into where we are now as sales organizations, as sales leaders, in the context of the current buyer situation. We still have to focus on sales processes, goals, training, and coaching. But we also need to take one small step back and look at it organizationally.
Understanding Your Buyer’s Journey
It’s essential to ask questions about the buyer’s journey and how feedback flows back and forth from departments. Look at what marketing is doing in the execution to support sales. How is sales getting feedback back to marketing so that they can execute well? Same with product development. Ask yourself about customer feedback and prospect feedback. How are we getting that over to product development? What does the product roadmap look like for the next three to six months?
It comes back to the basics of good messaging, knowing your ideal customer profile (ICP), understanding your ICP’s current state of mind versus maybe what it was six months ago. Also, consider what your buyers’ state of mind will be in three months when restrictions lift.
Ask Better Questions
Considering the sales landscape over the last few months, Richard recommends gauging the relationship and trying to understand their buying cycle. The playbook hasn’t changed much. Listen to your prospect and customer. Ask better, relevant questions.
Richard likes asking someone, “Which bucket are you in?” Are they heads-down, just trying to stay afloat right now? Or are you starting to do research so that when things adjust you can start making decisions? Or, are you full steam ahead with no issues? This helps you empathize and tailor your message and respect their answer.
What comes out of this is more direct conversations, more empathetic conversations. Salespeople learn how to ask for the right thing. They have to earn the right to ask questions, regardless of the situation in the world.
How will Sales be Different Post-Pandemic?
One thing that Richard hopes will come out of the pandemic is that salespeople will get better at feedback loops and stop wasting time in meetings.
People better understand the difference between training and coaching now, and how important and valuable training and coaching are.
Regarding the transition to remote selling, Richard contends that nothing really has changed about building relationships. The only thing that’s changed is the buyer’s willingness to purchase bigger deals.
Creating a Meaningful Buyer Experience
The buyer’s experience has changed more than the seller’s experience. Training field reps to be inside reps means they need to be better at using the CRM.
Sales reps who are used to using dinner and golf as a way to build the relationship will have the most difficulty. But, the buyer will quickly adjust to doing business over the phone or via a web conference.
To create exceptional buyer experiences digitally and avoid pitfalls, again, it comes down to earning the right to ask the question, and then asking the tough question, and asking for the next step. If you don’t ask, “Can I contact you next week if I don’t hear back from you?” then you’ve done your job poorly.
In terms of buyer experience, there’s now an internal need for sales organizations to request the new product marketing collateral and resources from other areas of the business to support the current needs and make sure that as a business everything is internally aligned.
Alignment Between Sales and Marketing
Case studies and use cases are particularly vital to sales reps. Creating those is product marketing’s job. If you’ve been able to close some business in the last 60 days in this new world, you should case study that so that you can help other customers understand it’s okay. You should use case it internally so the reps know that it’s possible. Empower them and stop letting them come up with excuses.
The goal of marketing and product marketing is to provide the air cover for right now, as well as plan for the future. The CRO has to decide how to dedicate time to helping sales and marketing create the alignment of top priorities for the short and long-term.
Richard explains that one thing we have to adjust is being able to look at our current circumstances at an emotional level. It’s okay to feel a little bit of everything – nervous, scared, and happy. You can feel bad for someone who lost their job. But you can also feel happy you haven’t.
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