By John Kearney, Sales Benchmark Index (SBI)
As a Sales Operations leader, you have 3 major challenges heading into next year.
1. Identifying which of the ever-evolving stream of data points will help determine success
2. Understanding how your customers are evolving and determining whether your sales team is keeping pace
3. Persuading the executive team to make necessary strategic shifts to hit next year’s targets
The Buyer Process Map (BPM) will help you tackle these challenges. This tool has been around for a few years now. It has never been more necessary than it is heading into next year. The organizations that have adopted early have seen 3 main benefits:
- They’re engaging with customers and prospects earlier in their buying process
- Marketing is creating relevant content that the sales team can leverage throughout sales campaigns
- Cost of sales is decreasing as the sales team only engages with informed, prepared buyers
Let’s look at a few examples of how the BPM has been used. It may serve as inspiration for your strategic planning.
Jesse runs Sales Operations for a Value Added Reseller. His team conducted buyer research over the course of Q2. Win-Loss reviews were implemented and conducted. A customer survey was launched and aggregated. Each of his 80 sales reps ‘listened’ to their customers through LinkedIn and Twitter. Since July, Jesse’s team has analyzed the findings and created a BPM. His customers stated, overwhelmingly, that ease of doing business is their main concern. They weren’t interested in each component in the product. They didn’t care about each Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). Instead they were eager to hear how the product would be delivered. Was this a trusted vendor and how could I be sure?
The sales team quickly altered course. They put down their product pitches. They stopped handing out collateral on all the bells and whistles. Instead, they produced case studies from top clients. They asked those top clients to recommend their sales rep on LinkedIn. They changed their messaging to focus on customer care. They picked up 2 new clients in Q3 that were drawn to the customer service approach.
Luis runs Sales Enablement for a Fortune 250 sales enterprise. They instituted BPMs at the end of last year. Since then, they’ve reduced the length of the sales cycle significantly. More importantly, the sales team freed up more time in their week to simply sell. I asked Luis why this was the case. He explained that before, they wasted cycles on buyers they thought were ready to buy. Buyers were turned off by the constant selling the reps were engaging in. They preferred to do the research on their own. They were buying from the vendors that facilitated their buying experience the best. The BPM allows them to quickly tell where a buyer is in their buying journey. Luis’ team knows the questions they are asking early in their journey. They know the types of content that appeal to buyers with different maturity levels. Their sales team is not running around to prospects until they are ready to engage. In the meantime, the sales reps are nurturing them along their buying process. They are sharing relevant content and staying top of mind. This has helped win more deals and reduce time thrashing.
Persuading the Executive Team
Sally recently told me her biggest challenge was persuading her CSO to act. We could write an entire blog on persuading the CSO. Instead, I asked another Sales Ops leader how he handles that conversation. He told me the key is to make it simple. The BPM is a simple tool, which is why his VP of Sales jumped on board. The buyer is changing.
Social Media allows buyers to research and get the opinions of peers. We live in a transparent world. To align with the buyer, we must give the buyer what he wants.
The BPM is a great illustration of what goes on in the mind of a buyer. A sales rep can quickly review the BPM. They can find content in the content library that answers questions the buyer has. They can create presentations that address needs buyers might not even realize they have. The investment in creating the BPM is minimal compared to the reward. It’s low hanging fruit. A year later, it will be business as usual.