It’s sales, Jim, but not as we know it!
To borrow a phrase from Star Trek’s Dr. McCoy, “It’s sales, Jim, but not as we know it!”
A sea change is underway in how people and companies buy. Expert salespeople directing buyers along a sales pipeline by controlling information and process is being upended. Buyers, both individual and corporate, are taking control, empowered by almost unlimited access to information and the opinions of trusted sources. The internet and social media make it easy to get the knowledge and views that underpin the confidence to take control. As a result, buyers involve suppliers much later in the sales cycle, by which time, the opportunity to influence is greatly reduced. Buyers no longer want to hear your sales pitch; they want to know how you solve their specific problem or satisfy their needs and desires. The challenge has changed from driving a sales process to facilitating a buying process, a difference that is more than semantic.
The old sales model focused on capturing a lead and driving it through a defined sales process. Sales 3.0 requires companies to create an environment for potential buyers to navigate and explore on their own, yet be perpetually ready to respond when the customer wants to buy. It demands many of the same sales skills such as negotiation, presentation, persuasion, and closing, but adds new layers of capability like engagement, nurturing, and advising. It also marries sales and marketing in a more deeply interconnected way, into what some commentators call “revenue cycle management.”
There are four vital ingredients for success in a Sales 3.0 world:
The starting point for success is clarity of your target customer, expressed in highly descriptive buyer personae. These go beyond simple demographics and should encompass needs, problems, influences, trigger events and in a business-to-business environment, organizational characteristics. Insight Sales 3.0 requires companies to learn everything possible about customers. And, as if that weren’t a daunting enough task, organizations must also consolidate these insights into a single, comprehensive view. CRM is the natural home for storing customer information, but this intelligence shouldn’t be limited to sales and marketing. True customer insight comes from capturing data at all stages of the customer journey, from first awareness onwards, and includes interactions via social media. Insight drives what content a company provides.
Good content recognizes the customer’s needs, and should educate (at the very least) and light the way to meeting those needs. At best, content can deepen trust, boost your standing in the customer’s mind, and perhaps even inspire loyalty. It demonstrates understanding, relevance, and expertise, keeping your company front-of-mind when the prospect decides to purchase.
Good content is only effective if delivered at the right time and place. That demands frictionless execution responding to customers’ changing needs and triggers as they happen. Mass campaigns give way to mass customization – content that is issued according to the customer’s current context not an arbitrary marketing calendar. Intelligent, rule-based automation is essential. It requires the use of a range of communication channels, including the online forums your target customers visit.
The Clicktools Angle
Why, you ask, is a survey company talking about this? Surveys are where Clicktools started and they remain an important and significant part of our business. But, our customers taught us that insights can be harvested from interactions at all stages of the customer journey when they started to exploit the combination of Clicktools’ easy-to-build data collection capability with the best CRM integration on the market. Web forms and call scripts were added to the Clicktools’ armory and the high-level concept of improving customer experience became our mission. So, please don’t hesitate to ask us how Clicktools’ surveys, scripts, and forms can help you expedite your Sales 3.0 goals. We are happy to share some ideas on how to increase insight, increase insight, improve relevance and enhance your customer experience!