The traditional sales process has long been a standard sales strategy. But in recent years, the landscape of selling has undergone significant changes, especially as it relates to how the modern buyer’s journey is unfolding in modern selling. In fact, there’s a case to be made that sales stages are no longer effective. Some experts feel that a stageless sales process is more effective by focusing on the selling actions vs. the stages themselves. Science shows us the modern-day buying journey can often go backwards in stages as the deal unfolds.
Complexities of Modern Buyer’s Journey
This shift in the buying process has created significant misalignment between the traditional sales process that emphasizes a more linear process and the modern selling and modern buyer’s journey that resembles a roller coaster with many twists, turns, and circular movements. Solutions have gotten more complex, requiring buy-in from multiple departments. The corporate political landscape is causing individuals to be less likely to make decisions due to their fear of failure. There seems to be endless information out there on all possible solutions, and it is very hard to tell things apart. All this while companies are trying to de-risk the buying of solutions and tightening the budgets while over scrutinizing everything. All these factors are leading to a much more complex selling environment.
According to research by Gartner, today’s buyer journey is so complex, it can involve more than ten stakeholders in some cases! You’ll often see decisions by committee with an executive sponsor that includes influencers, end users, technical resources, and operational resources, each with their own unique needs, preferences, and priorities. These stakeholders work in various departments, making it difficult for sales teams to gain a complete understanding of the customer’s needs and preferences. The best way to handle this is to continue the discovery process and meet with as many people as you can. You must truly understand the ripple effects of the problem across all areas of the business and map what you learn to the aspects of your solution solves for each stakeholder.
Additionally, the modern buyer’s journey is characterized by many stops and starts. Buyers often pause and restart their purchasing process, explore other options, gather more information, or consult with other stakeholders. These stops and starts can cause delays and make it difficult for sales teams to predict when a deal will close. In these scenarios, you need to be more empathetic. You should provide information to help create contrast and reduce decision fatigue. Become an expert on your competition and your marketplace to help you stand out from everyone else. Share information freely and create a wonderful experience for your prospects and customers throughout the buying process.
Adapting to the Modern Buyer’s Journey
Another key aspect of the modern selling and modern buyer’s journey is that sales may not even be involved until later in the process. Buyers today have access to an abundance of information, and they are more likely to conduct extensive research before engaging with sales teams. By the time sales is brought into the conversation, buyers have often already formed an opinion about the product or service in which they are interested. You need to expect that, and you should spend the early stages of an opportunity understanding their problems deeply. You may also want to determine what they’ve learned so far, why they’re speaking to you, who else they’re speaking to, and further educate them on the solution they may be missing. You may also have to levelset the knowledge curve and reframe their understanding of the competitive landscape. In the business world today, sellers need to be deeper market experts than ever before.
These key areas of the modern buyer’s journey have created a significant misalignment between the traditional sales process, the expectations of the business, and the needs of the buyer. Modern sales organizations are adapting their approach to account for this with better sales training and sales processes that are more fluid.
Strategies for Successful Sales Organizations
The most successful sales organizations enable their salespeople to become experts through competitive playbooks and battlecards and arming them with up-to-date information to share with clients. They provide better strategic account mapping to ensure there are always multiple stakeholders involved in the process, and that discovery questions are mapped to all the different personas that may be involved. They train their teams to provide tighter solution presentations that hone in on the needs of different stakeholders. They coach their teams on becoming masterful consultative sellers and how to better execute decision criteria mapping. Lastly, there needs to be more involvement from executives on the seller’s team, and tighter alignment between key members of the business to the right buyer-side stakeholders.
At The Sales Collective, our team of experts has a wealth of knowledge and decades of experience helping companies of all types and sizes become more effective. Many of our clients have seen dramatic increases in revenue, win rates, and profitability, and we’d be happy to share more if and when the time is right. If you’d like more information, please visit us at: TheSalesCollective.com.