Matching sales training to the buyer’s journey is essential when designing not just your sales training courses but also as part of your digital selling strategy. Developing a deep understanding of your customer profiles and their buying journey is critical in getting a sales force to engage a company’s target audience. When done correctly, matching sales training to the buyer’s journey will improve the effectiveness of your sales strategy and dramatically increase sales growth.
We know that social media and the digital channels provide buyers with self-education which leads to greater autonomy when making buying decisions. Which poses the question, “If most of the information they would need to make an informed decision when considering a purchase is available online, what is the role of the modern salesperson?
Sales leaders need to ask where does sales prospecting and customer acquisition tactics fit into engaging buyers in the digitally influenced sales process.
Defining the buyer’s journey
Defining the buyers journey is not so much about “what is it” but “HOW is it” enacted. A simple definition could be – The process a buyer goes through to become aware of, consider, evaluate, and then decide on purchasing a product or service.
In the buyer’s journey, the biggest change is in the “awareness’ and “consideration” stages. In these stages, social media now plays a bigger part than the traditional sales engagement. Is this a failure by business to address this in sales training (by providing better sales prospecting tactics) or have we just ceded a vital part of customer acquisition to the internet?
Matching sales training to the buyer’s journey
This will ensure a sales team that is skilled in using a multi-channel approach to nurturing a target set of customers throughout the buying process. This is now essential for any business to attract buyers towards purchasing your product or service. Salespeople need to have a clear understanding of what the customer expects at each stage of the buying process. It is the responsibility of sales leadership to provide the training, coaching and guidance to help them interact with potential customers with relevant content and messaging at every stage.
There is no mystery in the digitally influenced buyers journey, the key to successfully engaging customers on their buyer’s journey is constant engagement. Digital sales transformation is being rolled out in sales training to teach salespeople how to skilfully engage with prospects throughout each stage of their journey. The goal is not just selling but to build trust and rapport between the business and the prospect. Research shows that the biggest differentiator in selling success may just be getting the prospect trust. So, if you can build credibility, usefulness and trust above your competitors in the chase to win business, it will give you the advantage when converting a prospect into a customer.
Stages in the Buyers Journey
The buyers journey can be condensed down to a three-step process: The Awareness Stage: The buyer realises they may have a problem. Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it and then the Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution.
In the Awareness stage, a buyer will identify an issue, or challenge they want to address. At this stage they decide what priority this issue or challenge should be. So, does your sales training cover off:
How would the buyer describe his or her challenges?
Where and how does the buyer educate themselves on the challenges facing others or their industry?
What would be the compelling reasons when the buyer comes to deciding whether or not this should be prioritised?
Next is the Consideration stage, here the buyer should have moved to having clearly defined the issue or challenge plus a commitment to dealing with it. They have self-educated, read whitepapers, interacted with companies and sales people plus will have evaluated the different options available to pursue the end goal of resolving the challenge. Again, sales training needs to address:
Which categories of solutions do buyers investigate?
Where do buyers educate themselves on the various options or solutions?
How do buyers perceive the pros and cons of each solution?
How do buyers decide which option is right for them?
The third stage is Decision. The buyer has arrived at a decision on which solution matches their need. Some questions the sales training material should cover:
What criteria or other considerations will a buyer use to evaluate the available offerings?
When the buyers comes to researching you (yes, they will) and your company’s offering, what do they like about what they see or read compared to the competition?
What concerns will you need to cover off on your solution?
Is there a buying committee or who else needs to be involved in the decision? For each person involved, how does their perspective on the decision differ?
What is the buying process or will the buyer have expectations around sampling/trying your solution before they purchase it?
What is the true cost of acquisition, so outside of buying your solution, do buyers need to make additional plans around implementation, IT or training?
Some sales training tips
It is important to break down each step in your sales process and then match your sales training to the buyer’s journey. Each sales training session should focus on a step in the sales process including what sales assets, content and information to use. For a salesperson, learning the next step in the sales process should be a reward for mastering the previous one.
The buyer to supplier relationship along with how buyers engage with salespeople is changing rapidly. Your sales strategy , sales process and sales training will have to become more dynamic, multi-channel and digitally driven, just like our customers.