Today’s business-to-business customers face a difficult plight. They’re inundated with information. They have to understand complex products and services, and need the approval of many different people (6.8 on average) throughout the buying process. You can imagine the customer standing in an overwhelming pile of information, requirements, and opinions, with nowhere to turn for help.
Challenges and Opportunities for Sales Professionals
The overwhelmed customer presents both challenges and opportunities for the salesperson. According to Gartner’s webinar, titled “Reengineering the Sales Process to Make Buying Easier,” salespeople need to make the buying process easier for customers. Research from Nicholas Toman, Brent Adamson, and Cristina Gomez of Gartner highlighted a few themes that are important to both sales and marketing professionals.
First, the research discusses the importance of “purchase ease.” Purchase ease is the ability of a company to make the purchasing process easy for the customer. The customer wants information about the product or service—and finds that this information is readily available. Somehow the customer has to consolidate all of this information and then share it with multiple people in order to make a decision. One way to help the customer through this process is to align with the buyer’s journey. What information does the customer need in each stage of their journey? How can I, as the salesperson, provide this information?
Adopt a Prescriptive Approach
To help the customer through this process, Gartner suggests that sellers adopt a “prescriptive approach” rather than a “responsive approach.” Some of the key actions of the two types of sellers are outlined below:
According to Gartner, “customers perceive prescriptive salespeople as being one step ahead” (HBR article). Prescriptive sellers often encourage buyers to discuss contentious decisions instead of deferring them. They provide fewer but more specific recommendations rather than overloading the buyer with information that may not help them in their journey. In taking a more prescriptive approach, Gartner suggests the following:
- Map the customer buying journey
- Identify necessary stakeholder involvement
- Anticipate likely stakeholder questions
- Verify the buyer’s purchase program
- Isolate stage-specific purchase barriers
- Determine best-bet supplier interventions
Make Value Clear for an Effortless Buying Experience
Companies need to come into the new information-heavy environment by making the customer’s decision and purchase process effortless. An effortless experience includes walking through the customer’s needs and understanding what they are looking to solve. The seller can then pinpoint exactly how the benefits of their product or service will help the customer achieve their goals. If a seller takes the prescriptive approach, Gartner found, the buyer is less likely to regret the purchase.
Successful sellers make buying easier for their customers. Too much information can impede the sales process. Providing direct, concise, and targeted information that is aligned to the buyer’s needs is the key to reducing buyer regret and increasing buyer ease during the sales process.