Blog

February 27, 2017

Are You Closing? The New B2B Sales Experience

The Nightmare Sales Meeting
A lot of sales associates have seen this scenario. You prep for months on a big pitch with all the important people in the room. You roll in with the ‘Almighty of Pitch Decks’ based on your best guess of what the client wants to hear.

Mid-way through your solution, your key client groans “We’ve heard this already!”

Your meeting is over. KO. A lack of intelligence, or an assumption on what your prospect wants to hear, can spell doomsday.

The Changing Wind of B2B Sales
Closing big deals involving a variety of products and services is undergoing a massive shift. The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) reports that the #1 factor (53%) in what drives customer sales and loyalty is the sales experience.

Some aspects of the sales experience as reported by the study include whether:

  • The sales rep offers unique and valuable insights on the market
  • The sales rep helps to educate the prospect on new issues and outcomes
  • The supplier has wide spread support across the prospect’s organization

The current sales models and tools do not accomplish these key goals, because they are based on a supplier solution “push” model. The next generation of sales tools will integrate the concept of voice of customer (VOC) as the foundation of a new customer solution “pull” model.

Push vs Pull – Why Sales Enablement Is Outdated
The currently accepted model for B2B sales team is “pushing” information to a prospect. The thinking is by streamlining the process of content publishing and organization, the sales team will be better enabled to close more deals in less time. Give them all the information and then some. They can determine what they need, and filter out the rest. This has generated the discipline of sales enablement and its various tools and services.

The reason that most sales enablement content falls short in today’s world, is because it is focused on the supplier’s solution versus the customer’s business. Today, a seller assumes what the prospect needs and “pushes” content they think the customer wants. 

Sales enablement helps sales teams do that more efficiently, saving the salesperson time. What is missing is the customer’s voice, telling the salesperson what the prospect actually wants, and a way for the salesperson to “pull” that information into their processes, which drives a more effective conversation. 

Why Voice of Customer Is Critical
Audiences Are More Informed Than Ever
Some reports suggest a B2B sales prospect have up to 90% of all the information they need to make a decision before a sales rep even has the first meeting (Challenger Sale). Today, the accessibility of information and research diligence of companies mean they are looking for specialized and relevant information. If a presentation has anything more than relevant content they are looking for, they perceive it as distracting and a waste of time. Gone are the days of firing generic content and solutions at a prospect with the hope some of it sticks.

Age of Digital, Security and Privacy
Sales prospects are harder to reach today than every before. Have you tried waltzing into your prospect’s office and ‘shooting the bull’ lately? From government laws protecting privacy to firewall security systems that block your communications, it’s harder to meaningfully communicate with sales prospects. This limited time means confirming their needs and goals is more critical than ever.

Shared Decision Making
It’s reported that it takes on average of 5.4 people to make a decision on a B2B supplier agreement (Challenger Customer). The days of the single “decision maker” are over and the world is too complex for unilateral executive decisions. That means, the voice of the customer also means the voice of the customers. The CTO probably has very different needs of content from the CMO, and the ability to tailor sales materials to a variety of decision makers and the overall buying group means faster closings.

Big VOC Data to Timely Predictive Intelligence
The importance of getting VOC data into a trusted system is critical in today’s business reality. It will make sales content more effective, close more deals, and increase revenues. However, it has a better by-product that is even more powerful.

By aggregating this VOC data, along with other performance and engagement metrics, it is possible to create intelligent predictions about what content this prospect might not even know they needed. For instance, if a system aggregates VOC data from thousands of customers, certain trends will emerge that can form the basis of instant intelligent recommendations.

Trends such as:

  • What content are customers like this most requesting/asking about in the last 6 months?
  • What specific content has closed deals within this industry in the last 3 months?
  • For this industry, what goals are the most important in the last 9 moths?

The New Sales Experience
By integrating voice of customer intelligence, your sales team can move to a pull model and get aligned with major winds blowing through the B2B industry.

The new sales experience considers the full cycle of sale, before, during and after, and positions its sales materials with the ever-shifting needs of its audiences. Creating a better sales experience will allow sales teams to “catch a jet stream” that closes more deals, making them more effective and generating an ongoing insight engine that creates higher loyalty.


Jeff Williams is a Product Strategy & UX Design Lead at Xinn.