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Is the Buyer Journey at the Heart of Your Sales Process?

6 min read
Updated Aug. 16, 2021
Published Jan. 22, 2020

Like it or not, brands like Amazon set the gold standard for buyer experience.

They made it so easy for consumers to get what they want (and what they didn’t even know they wanted). And with that, Amazon made salespeople’s lives much harder.

How did they do it? Well, in addition to being expert data collectors, Amazon mastered the art of meeting the buyer where they are. They listened to us. They offered us products that met and exceeded our needs and desires. And they did it fast.

Whether it’s suggesting a refill on bulk dish soap we purchased six months ago or recommending a new series based on our Prime Video watch history, Amazon shows us they listen. And when they share products that people like us buy? For better or worse, Amazon gets us.

Free 2-day shipping and same-day shipping in major cities. Delivery by drone. And if you need to return your item and hate dealing with the post office? Just throw it into a shiny yellow locker and Amazon will handle it.

But, imagine if one day, the mighty algorithms broke down. 

You love romantic comedies but Prime recommends a slasher film. Or, your kids are in college and Amazon starts peddling diapers. You’d scratch your head and wonder, W-T-you know what.

This comedy of errors happens all too often for B2B buyers.

Is a B2B sale more complicated than an Amazon transaction? Absolutely. Qualifying is hard. Requirements conversations are tedious. Sales cycles are a grind. Dragging a deal past the finish line = engaging with so. many. stakeholders. 

And getting a company to part with enterprise-sized dollars? That’s tough. 

But, sales fundamentals? Those are the same:

  • Meet the buyer where they are. 
  • Anticipate prospects’ needs with active listening. 
  • Send targeted, personalized communication.
  • Share timely insight that helps the buyer make the right decision (even if that means they go with someone else).

According to TOPO’s latest Sales Process Design research, “The sales process must match the buying journey. The first step is to understand how customers typically buy a similar solution. With that understanding, an organization can design and optimize the process to meet the buyer’s needs.” – Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at TOPO

Seems obvious, right? Apparently, it isn’t:

According to Rosenberg, “Though documenting the buyer’s journey has become table stakes over the last few years, very few companies match the design of their sales process with the reality of the buyer’s journey.”

Is your sales process aligned with the buying journey?

Making Sales Buyer-Centric: It’s a Matter of Trust

In a buyer-centric sales process, the customer’s goals and priorities are paramount, not yours. In this way, a rep builds rapport and establishes trust with prospects. 

At Salesloft, we’ve witnessed the power of aligning the sales process with the buying cycle. We’ve found that, by working from preexisting stages, aligning with the right personas, and streamlining the process across your entire team, your efforts will positively impact pipeline and increase closed revenue.

But don’t just take our word for it.

HubSpot has long stressed the importance of meeting buyers where they are. In fact, HubSpot was one of the first software companies out there doing this.

Their rationale? Gone are the days that buyers need salespeople as info-disseminators. Because product information is so easy to find, most buyers do their homework before they even talk to you.

Along those lines, HubSpot has this to say about the sales process, “Buyers have heightened expectations around the experience of buying. They can control the experience and move through the process largely on their own timeline.”

And that’s why a buyer-focused sales process works: it helps you course correct. According to The Brooks Group, a sales process focused on the buyer “allows your sales reps to quickly identify where a prospect is on the buyer’s journey, and meet them in the correct step of the selling process. (It can even help them move a prospect backward, if necessary…).”

When a prospect sees you tailoring the buying experience to them, trust follows.

How to Be a Buyer-Centric Seller

Step 1: Document the buyer’s journey across all your personas. 

Again HubSpot says, “This will allow you to look at your sales process from the perspective of your customers. You’ll be able to get a better understanding of the interactions they have with your reps, the pain points they experience, and why they need your product or service.”

Step 2: Map the buyer’s journey to the interactions reps must have with customers to advance them across stages. If you haven’t already done it, start by defining the stages of the buying cycle:

“When you are instituting a set process across your AE team, consider what you already have in place. Most account executives work out of opportunities in Salesforce…Your reps are familiar with their opportunity stages since their progress depends on them. Implementing a process that lines up with the stages and buying cycle your AEs are already used to will help them quickly acclimate to something like a cadence.”

A cadence is a repeatable series of steps that mimics your sales process. Cadences help you provide an exceptional buyer experience by delivering exactly what the buyer needs at the right moment within their buying stage.

At Salesloft, we use cadences to inject rhythm into our phone and email communications with prospects, increasing appointments and demos up to 300%.

Creating a cadence for each stage of the buyer journey keeps your reps on task. They’ll communicate with buyers at the right time, in the right way. And they’ll keep progressing through cadences and stages until the deal is won.

But again, don’t just take our word for it.

One of our data scientists conducted an analysis of 200 million sales interactions. That research provides insights on the behavioral outcomes of actual cadences used to generate responses from contacts, cracking the code on what works best.

Sales Process Goodies, Get ‘Em While They’re Hot

If your sales process isn’t aligned with your buyer journeys, you’re in good hands. TOPO arrived at their sales methodology by analyzing hundreds of sales processes. And their practices are simple and easy to adopt. 

So, for more insights on how to build a buyer-centric sales process, check out TOPO’s 2019 Sales Process Design research today.

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