The Customer Journey: Who Needs a Sales Process Anyway
Sales | May 16, 2019 | 3 min read
I have yet to meet a client who thinks their sales process is a triumph. Most bemoan that sellers ignore it. Others don't understand why it hasn't yielded the wild successes they had expected.
Low sales process adherence creates real pain. It limits pipeline transparency and obscures insight into where process and performance improvements are needed. In turn, it skews forecasting, creates inconsistency across the sales group, and leads to time and resources being wasted.
Yet, after a few honest attempts at using the process most sellers leave it bobbing in their wake.
Why? It's wrong. Sales processes are almost impossible to reconcile with reality. And what sellers see in reality is a long, convoluted, and often opaque customer buying process that cannot be understood, let alone navigated, with 3-8 seller-centric steps.
Buying groups are large – on average 10.6 stakeholders. Worse, they are diverse. And diversity of expectations is one of the biggest obstacles to successful buying. Stakeholders struggle to agree on the purpose, price, and success metrics of B2B solutions.
Theirs is a meandering, tortuous, and often repetitive buying journey that comes with ever-changing questions, requirements, and roadblocks. It bears no relation to the clean, linear progression of sales processes.
Combine this internal complexity with vast amounts of information and an array of solution options, and you have some truly overwhelmed buyers who would struggle to navigate this process alone, let alone together. In this world, buying is extremely complex… and utterly painful.
When sellers ignore this reality, they speed ahead leaving their customers in the dust, confused, frustrated, and destined to buy nothing. And they’re surprised when seemingly promising sales fall through in the mid- to late-stages.
This is why your sales process is broken. It is entirely seller-centric and too strictly linear. It doesn't equip sellers to understand and manage the buying realities of their customers.
In the face of customer complexity, a prescriptive approach is proven to yield success. This approach manages the volume of information customers receive, prescribes solutions in an informed way, and embraces internal debate and works to settle it.
And customers love prescription! They want someone to help them navigate their internal complexity. Their job is not actually to buy things, so help them buy quickly and effectively and then let them return to the work they're paid to do.
To win in this world you need a detailed understanding of your customers' buying journey:
Understanding this journey allows you to better guide customers through their purchase and potential pitfalls. It also provides a more accurate view of the purchase process, allows for better forecasting, more relevant coaching, and more effective account and opportunity planning. This is to say nothing of the positive impact on marketing efforts, namely lead scoring, and content creation and deployment.
So, in answer to the title question: leave the dusty remnants of your sales process where they are. They aren't what you need. Begin anew with a realistic, truly customer-centric approach.
Challenger invites you to take a few short minutes to find out. Click the link below for the Buyer Journey – Need To Change Self-Assessment.
We will tabulate your results and email you a benchmark report. In the mean time we’ll share a kit with some interesting guidance to get you started on Buyer Journey mapping.
Ruth Shaikh is a Senior Consultant with Challenger Inc., based in Arlington, Virginia. She works with sales and marketing executives across a variety of industries, managing engagements designed to enhance sales and marketing effectiveness through the implementation of Challenger™ development programs.