August 1, 2012 by Bob Hill
Posted in: customer loyalty, In this week's e-newsletter - Sales & Marketing, Industry Spotlight - Sales & Marketing, Latest News & Views - Sales & Marketing, New Research, Value
More than 85% of prospects feel doing business has become more complex over the past three years, according to a recent Economist poll. The majority of those prospects describe the average buying process as “chaotic,” making it more difficult for them to commit to average deals.
Best-in-class companies have responded by streamlining the process as much as possible, making it easy and convenient for buyers to say “yes” via four value-added tactics.
- Turning salespeople into facilitators. The majority of today’s salespeople assume once the company automates a process, they no longer need to concern themselves with it. But the reality, according to new research by Varicent Concepts, is that part of the reason companies lose sales (and existing buyers) is that no one takes the time to personally walk the customer through new processes. While automation may make the buying process simpler, it’s useless to prospects who don’t trust or understand it. One proven way to overcome that: Train salespeople on how to use each of the company’s online resources, and require they run through the process with customers at least once. It builds trust, makes customers feel like the salesperson is an advocate, and it’s proven to boost loyalty and satisfaction.
- Connecting Service to Sales. More than 50% of buyers who’ve left a company over the past five years claim they did so because of poor service after the sale. Managers may be able to overcome that by fusing Service and Sales, so that when an existing customer calls (or emails) the company with a specific issue, that issue is immediately forwarded to the salesperson responsible for the account.
- Offering convenience, not upgrades. The key to making new advances in the selling process worthwhile is making sure customers see it the same way. With that in mind, always make sure there are options for prospects who may not warm up to buying online, responding to email, or even giving their credit card number via the company’s website. Solicit honest feedback from buyers about what they liked about the convenience you offer, and — more importantly — what they didn’t like. This is especially pertinent in the case of a long-time customer who left the company with no notice. Prodigal buyers have nothing to lose by telling you what really caused them to leave. One other tip: Include a tab on your website that explains the top-notch security of your server, etc.
- Partnering with Finance/Accounting. More than 60% of best-in-class companies have partnered with Finance (e.g., CFO, Accounting, etc.) to develop win-win incentives that reward reps for working hand-in-hand with buyers. These “loyalty” bonuses give reps extra motivation to spend more time with existing buyers, walking them through how to: make efficient use of the company’s online resources, stay on top of limited-time discounts and hidden savings they might not otherwise know about, avoid time-consuming forms and processes that are no longer necessary.