Buyer Preferences: What does “Focus on Post-Sale” Really Mean?

Last week, we discussed what buyers want salespeople to do more often and more consistently, based on our 2018 Buyer Preferences Study. Four behaviors were at the top of their list, and one of them was to focus on post-sale.

“Post-sale? But that’s a service issue.” I hear you. It is, unless it isn’t. The point is not that salespeople should become service professionals. It’s that salespeople shouldn’t run away after they have worked with a buying team for weeks or even months to provide insights and perspective, and to be relevant and valuable for each member of the buying to help them to make their best buying decision. For a salesperson to disappear post-sale casts doubt on the wisdom of buying from that person, that company, to begin with. None of us want to be treated that way.

Look at the situation with the buyers’ eyes, and what we heard in our study: “It isn’t enough to just sell a company a product. There has to be a continued interest in its success.”

For buyers, the buying decision is just a milestone on the way to something that’s more important to them. That’s their implementation and usage phase that actually delivers the value they have bought. 

What does focus on post-sale really mean?

  • Staying in touch, focus on value confirmation messages:
    Salespeople usually start their engagement with value hypotheses that become unique value propositions as the buying team moves forward along their customer’s path. Now, after the deal has been closed, it is essential to leverage the power of value confirmation messages. It’s an often overlooked and forgotten step to get back to the buyers and to the executives who initially started this project. Using value conformation messages is key to success to let them know where the project is at. It’s not very different from “after sales activities” that are a common practice in B2B scenarios. See more on value messaging here, here, and here.
  • Identifying new opportunities to create additional value for the customer:
    The add-on advantage of working with value confirmation messages to address the (initial) executive stakeholders is that they will probably share some of their current business challenges. And maybe, if the relationship is already on a business level, they might seek the salesperson’s perspective. Isn’t that a perfect opportunity to develop additional business with this customer? It is – if salespeople are equipped and empowered to do so.
  • Evolving the relationship from a sales relationship to a business relationship:
    Whatever the current relationship level with a customer is, taking care of the customer during their implementation and usage phase is an excellent opportunity to evolve the relationship to the next level, maybe to a more consultative level, or to a strategic contributor or even trusted partner level (it depends on your business model and the nature of your portfolio of products and services).
  • Collaborating with the service team to ensure a consistent customer experience throughout the entire customer’s path:
    This is a key aspect that is also often overlooked. The question is what kind of customer experience you create for your customers along their customer’s path. The practice “We deliver a consistent customer experience which lives up to and aligns with our brand promise” was one of the Top 12 sales practices in our 2017 World-Class Practices Study.
    In the sales world, the sales and marketing alignment issues are discussed all over the place, whereas the sales and service alignment challenge is not a frequently discussed topic. But it is as important as the other one. In fact, the actual challenge is customer’s path alignment; not an alignment of functions to each other, but an alignment of all involved functions to the customer’s path, because the latter is the only determining factor in the age of the customer.

 

What does “focus on post-sale” mean for sales enablement?

In this case, it’s all about ensuring that all enablement services are designed along the entire customer’s path in a consistent way, and that the value messaging approach also covers the customer’s implementation and usage phase. Focus on post-sale is what we always preach as the core of sales enablement: having the customers as the primary design point.

There is another highly appreciated side-effect that helps to improve salespeople’s current position number nine on the list of buyers’ preferred resources when solving business problems (23%) which we discussed three weeks ago here. Number two on that list with 35.8% is “past experience with vendor.” Focus on post-sale as described here allows sales professionals to improve customers’ past experience with the vendor significantly. And that means that sales professionals can determine their destiny, based on their relevance for the modern buyer, at least to some degree!

Ideally, modern sales professionals are engaged, equipped and empowered by their sales enablement teams that work with the customer’s path as their primary design point. And in a perfect world, their enablement team would also closely collaborate with their sales manages to ensure consistent and effective enablement services as well as related sales coaching.

 

Have a look at our new book Sales Enablement – A Master Framework to Engage, Equip and Empower a World-Class Sales Force. Lots of “how to” information to address the challenges mentioned here.

Questions for you:

  • How do you ensure that your salespeople stay involved after a deal has been closed?
  • How are sales and service aligned in your organization?
  • How do you run sales and service alignment in an account based versus a territory-based sales model?

 

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