The Buying Process as a. Sales Enablement Framework

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1 The Buying Process as a Sales Enablement Framework Sales enablement needs an organizing framework. Using the customer buying process as that framework can align sales, marketing, product, and training teams around the customer. The essence of this approach is a shared definition of how customers buy and the anticipated milestones at which salespeople will likely engage the customer during that journey. When you anticipate what those inflection points will be, the organization can provide the right content, tools, practices & guidance to the field. CXO VP MGR INITIAL INTEREST PROJECT DEFINITION SOLUTION DECISION In the customer buying process, the x-axis represents time and the phases customers go through in their buying journey from initial interest to final decision. The y-axis represents the seniority of various individuals who will be engaged in the customer organization from a manager level to a senior executive level. Keep in mind that the names of the phases and the roles are unique by organization. Salespeople will move from high to low in the customer organization throughout the buying process. In some cases sales will only engage at the low level or late in the buying process, which is a common and frustrating challenge for many sales teams.

2 4 Areas Essential to Sales Enablement The value of the customer buying process as a sales enablement framework is realized when content, tools, and training are created and organized around selling scenarios that can be anticipated. To do this, four areas must be addressed... Strategy Process Messaging Leadership Strategy: Identify the roles and levels typically engaged today versus where you need to be engaging to influence the buying process. Define exactly what products, services, or solutions should be sold. Document the ideal account profile and the ideal opportunity profile. Process: Map out sales best practices, planning tools, and buying milestones for each stage of the buying process. Agree on the roles and responsibilities to ensure effective, efficient team selling. Messaging: Create internally focused sales education content that will enable delivery of the right sales messages by milestone. Tailor those messages for each audience or persona. Develop customer-facing assets that will be shown to the customer during each conversation. Leadership: Establish how managers should coach their salespeople based on where the customer is in the buying process. Create coaching guides to support those prioritized coaching opportunities. STRATEGY Who to Engage, What to Sell, & When to Walk Away PROCESS How to Navigate & Influence the Buying Journey MESSAGING What to Say & What to Show LEADERSHIP How to Drive Consistency, How to Elevate the Strategy & Message

3 Example Scenario Customer Milestone: Defined Project + Requesting RFP Strategy: Right Opportunity? Develop RFP? Reframe? Process: Internal Roles + Responsibilities? Planning Tools? Best Practices? RFP Template? Messaging: Solution Message? Value Message? Differentiation? Content to Share? Leadership: Coaching Guide? How to Lead the Coaching Conversation? To make this real, let s look at a specific scenario along the buying process. The box above signifies where an RFP would typically be delivered to one or more vendors. At this point in the buying process the salesperson needs to make the determination from a strategy perspective is this the right opportunity? Do you need to go develop the RFP and respond to it? Should you try to reframe things and move them back in their buying process? From a process perspective, who is doing what in this phase of the buying process? Since the project is defined, and the customer requested an RFP, what s the salespersons role? What s the specialist s role? What s the sales manager s role? Does marketing have a role? Is there a planning tool to use (e.g. opportunity plan) late in the buying process to develop a more effective strategy to win? Are there certain best practices that top salespeople follow? Is there a template to start the RFP? Messaging is what the salesperson should say and show at this stage. Is there a solution message the salesperson should be delivering at this stage? Is there a value message that clarifies the business impact? How is the salesperson differentiating? Are there specific assets, customer success stories, proof points, or an ROI calculator that would be helpful? Finally, from a leadership perspective, sales managers are going to be leading conversations with their salespeople. How should they elevate the strategy of the salesperson to increase the odds of a win? What is their coaching guide for leading that late stage opportunity review? What questions do they ask? What insights do they share?

4 Content Needed by Buying Process Stage At each stage of the buying process salespeople need different internal tools as well as a mix of customer-facing external content. Customer-facing content is utilized before, during, and after the sales conversation to enhance the sales message and influence the decision process. Internal content and tools are focused on sales education and preparation for sales conversations. INITIAL INTEREST PROJECT DEFINITION SOLUTION DECISION Customer Facing Early Stage Whiteboard Solution Whiteboard Next Steps Proposal Template Proposal Presentation Animated Videos ROI Calculator Packaged Success Early Stage Stories Presentation Internal Insight Objection Handling Competitive Talk Tracks Guide Strategies + Traps Conversation Plan Why Now Talk Track Success Story Talking Points Early in the buying process customer-facing content could be a discovery and positioning whiteboard or an animated video that helps start a conversation. Internally you need the insights, talk tracks, and conversation plans to help salespeople prepare for those meetings. In the middle of the buying process the customer needs to understand the why now? versus making the decision later. Content and tools for this phase typically revolve around solution definition and confirmation, handling objections, and providing proof points. Late in the buying process salespeople often need proposal templates and clarity on how to differentiate from the competition.

5 Late, Low, Lost, or Lonely? Where do you find yourself typically engaging prospects during your sales cycle? Are you Late, Low, Lost, or Lonely? These are questions Scott Presse, Consulting Principal at DSG, often poses to organizations examining their sales engagement with the customer buying process. Are you consistently coming in Late in the buying process? Perhaps there is already an RFP. This is a lot like getting an invitation to a party that happened last week. It will be difficult to differentiate your solution, and then price becomes the only differentiator. Do your salespeople generally engage at a Low level? The good news is often you are early. The bad news is you have entered in vendor jail. These evaluators typically want to self-educate on options and pricing and then try to sell the best one internally in hopes of getting approval and budget. However, your sales process is now in the hands of an amateur and they are rarely able to convince their boss. Often sales people lack an understanding of the customer s buying process. In this way Scott says they are Lost. They may be early and low or late, but in either case they lack an understanding of the strategy behind the initiative or the business metrics. The result is that you are left to produce a generic pitch and proposal. In most lost deals a salesperson has only one major contact, making the engagement Lonely. To effectively sell complex B2B solutions you need to engage at all three levels in an organization: executives, department/functional leaders, and technical evaluators. You need to engage executives to understand the business strategy and metrics. You need to engage department/functional leaders to understand the work process and build champions for the changes your solution will bring. Finally, you need technical evaluator support because they will ultimately be using and managing the solutions after the sale is over. Framing sales enablement around the customer buying journey and establishing a cross-functional definition of how customers buy will go a long way to ensure that your sales team is not late, low, lost, or lonely. DSG is a sales and marketing enablement company. We help B2B companies implement their BIG IDEAS for driving growth through sales playbooks, training, and reinforcement. Sales and marketing executives retain DSG to create practical, sales-friendly Playbooks in 4 areas: strategy, messaging, process, and coaching. These client-specific Playbooks are the foundation for experiential training programs that build momentum and lead to mastery of the content, tools, and practices in each Playbook. As leaders look to on board new reps faster, launch new products, or change the selling strategy, DSG s playbook approach can be an accelerator for both aligning and enabling the sales channels. Further Reading - For more B2B Sales Enablement insights go to: DSG Consulting

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