Competing On The Buying Experience

25 May, 2016 | Sales Performance

Think about a time you were buying a complex, high value solution. It could be in a B2B context or possibly a major consumer purchase like a brand new home, spa pool or home theatre system.

Now think about why you chose to buy. As you walk back through your sales experience in your mind, can you pinpoint what it was that influenced you?

No matter what you purchased, I'm going to suggest that it was no single thing that made you sign. It was a combination of many small things you experienced throughout your buying journey. The favourable review you read or the informative webinar you attended. The persuasive website where you decided to submit your details instead of hitting the 'back' button. The professional and helpful initial sales conversation you had with the representative. The high-calibre sales collateral or presentations you absorbed before finally selecting your solution and provider.

What are all these things that were happening to you? At every step of the way, you were either interacting with processes or communications.

Processes are the human interventions. The way a sales consultant answers the phone or responds to your online enquiry or live chat query. How they educate you on potential solutions and help you navigate buying considerations you hadn't thought of. The package and pricing they offered and the negotiation process that may have followed.

Communications are the content you consume that accompany the sales process, where you looked for supporting information to educate yourself around the market, product options, the case studies and customer stories that you used to validate what the sales rep was telling you.

As a buyer, you were in control, ultimately deciding when to move from the researching stage, where you oriented yourself on the market and potential solutions, through to the short listing stage, where you decided which companies to speak to. Finally, through to the selection stage, where you evaluated alternatives and chose your solution and partner.

Even though you were in the driver's seat the whole way, my guess is your chosen company had superior educational content to help you (not sell to you), when you were trying to orientate yourself in the market. They had a compelling website or landing page that got them onto your short list. The rep you dealt with was highly skilled at helping you navigate through your buying considerations, and was able to position their company as uniquely capable of solving your problem and delivering strong value. Then, they backed it up with relevant, timely supporting collateral that made you ultimately comfortable to sign with them.

The reason you chose them, is because they were simply better at blending a superior sales process with tailored communications that aligned with where your head was at, through every step of your journey.

Companies that are considered best of breed at selling complex solutions know how to align marketing and sales to create better buying experiences. They leverage digital lead generation to ensure a predictable flow of qualified leads enters their pipeline. They utilise CRM technology to deliver excellence at scale across every customer interaction. They weave in marketing automation to strategically deliver content that aligns with the considerations the prospect is dealing with at each stage of their journey. In short, they complete not just on their products or services, but on the purchasing experience itself.

Crafting your journey isn't simple or easy, as every prospect takes their own road. You're often dealing with multiple stakeholders, a complex offering and a long sales cycle. To help you compete on the buying experience, each month, we deliver content to break down different practical aspects of the customer journey across digital lead generation, marketing automation, CRM implementation and systems integration.

The best part, is this stuff isn't just for large corporates. The digital marketing and cloud computing revolutions have empowered aspirational smaller organisations to compete on customer experience for the first time.