Qualification and Discovery
The buyer’s process has changed, today there is an average of 5.4 people involved in the buying decision, and some say it can be as many as ten people. The vast majority of the buying process is now being done online; this means the cold calling outreach is no long very effective. There are three main categories to finding sales opportunities; there is the suspect, the prospect and the referral. A great way to reach the referral category is by taking care of the current customers that you have and making them a priority. Always remember that referrals remove the hardest part of building a new client base. As mentioned before the majority of the sales process is now being done online, because of this, you will want to look at your brand presence on all relevant platforms. The top three platforms for B2B are LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Whichever platform you choose you’ll want to make sure your brand presence matches up with your target market. When trying to get what we call a “soft referral,” you will need to post relevant content that will speak directly to your target audience.
When engaging with new suspects and prospects, it’s critical to understand the customer buying process. Research shows that 25% of missed opportunities in the pipeline are because a customer doesn’t decide at all. To avoid this, you need to qualify and understand the customer’s process. Here are a few key considerations that can help you:
- Understand their company and where they have a need for IT
- Gather business facts for making changes and what the ROI will be
- Define who will be impacted
- Determine how the project will be funded
- What is the decision process for your client? How do they base their decisions when choosing a partner?
- What are their timeline expectations?
- How will you build trust with the decision makers?
As we mentioned previously on average six and as many as ten people are involved in the decision today. Research also shows that almost 50% of the funding sits outside of IT, before you would prospect the CIO but today the funding comes from multiple places. You want to make sure you understand what department or division is buying and also who else will be involved in this buying process. Learn who can impact the decision maker, who will be writing the check, and who’s going to be the primary user and consumer of the solution. Ask the person you are in contact with if they posses the following:
Another thing you want to take into consideration is the budget, remember not to run from the cost. Sometimes it better to know upfront if someone can’t afford your product this way you can try to figure out a way around. If you are asked about the cost of your solution, let them know what the range is and then ask if that fits within their budget tolerance. It’s important for you not to try to force it if your product doesn’t fit their budget, your solution might work for them in the future so just make sure you keep in touch.
Most companies today are so focused on new client acquisition that they forget that one of the best ways to gain new clients is being referred by your current ones. Nurturing your relationships with your current clients is very important, you want to ensure customer retention and the opportunity to upsell. So what are a few ways of keeping clients engaged?
- Develop a cadence for regular calls/meetings about your current service.
- Share updates on social media posts that reinforce your unique selling proposition and highlight your customers.
- Understand personal motivations of your client.
- Create a non-product relationship.
Proving Your Solution
Researching your clients is important, you want to be educated in your offerings. Knowing your client’s expertise level will help you tailor your conversation. If you are speaking to someone highly technical you want to make sure you can handle that technical conversation or that you have someone with you that can. On the other hand, if you’re dealing with more of a transactional or operational type buyer you will not want to use technical jargon as they might not understand it. Being prepared and on time is also extremely important, don’t schedule demos or sales calls back to back. Use case studies and testimonials; you can post these online so that potential clients can view these. Lastly, you can also provide demo solutions and trial options. In this industry learning to leverage your partnerships are dire, here are a few tips on how to succeed in this:
Securing the Contract
Today if you’ve done your job in the previous steps and understand the pain points you’re solving the objections should be pretty basic. Further objections should be looked at as opportunities to establish more of a rapport with clients. Try probing for objections; you want to know if there is anything that’s preventing them from signing the contract. Keep in mind that 25% of the opportunities are because people didn’t decide at all. You should see the lack of objections as a red flag. Most importantly don’t forget to ask for the sale!
Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
Once you secure a contract, you want to make sure that the customer is being taken care of after the sale is complete. The reason this is so important is that you want those referrals and because you want to retain your customers. Here are a few ways to ensure customer satisfaction:
- Assign a long-term account manager accountable for the customer’s success.
- Establish metrics and scorecards to measure success on a monthly basis.
- Implement non-selling QBR
- Spend 20% reviewing the scorecard/challenges.
- Spend 80% planning the client’s current and future projects.
- Be consistent and persistent in follow up.
- Share case studies, articles, and blogs that speak to the pain point your client is having.
- Highlight your customer’s successes in social media posts.
- Maintain open lines of communication.
- Bring new ideas, formally or informally.
- Be honest and proactive with the client.
- Fix problems quickly.
To learn more visit www.comptia.com.