Why Alignment to the Customer’s Path is Key to Sales Performance
Jan 31 2019
In last week’s blog post, we addressed five different ways to improve sales performance. Number five was “Align your processes to your customers’ path.”
Today, let’s discuss this in a bit more detail: what aligning your processes to the customer’s path actually means and why it’s only the beginning of a more customer-centric sales enablement approach, based on the latest data of our 4th Annual Sales Enablement Study.
Customer path alignment begins with a mindset shift and with mapping out your relevant customer’s paths.
The shift is from an inside-out thinking (from products, services and your processes to the outer world) to an outside-in thinking (thinking and working from the customer’s path and the customers’ business problems back to your internal world). Don’t underestimate this shift as it might take a while to change people’s thinking.
Then, it’s about mapping out your customer’s path. Of course, every customer has its own customer’s path. However, for enablement purposes, it’s sufficient to have the relevant customer’s paths that represent your main buying scenarios. Collaborate with marketing, sales, customer experience and, of course, your customers. Don’t ever do it without your customers. Their insights are priceless and cannot be replaced by any indirect perspective.
Don’t overcomplicate the process. Focus on the main steps that are relevant for tailoring your sales enablement services. Focus on the awareness phase, the buying phase and don’t forget to include the implementation and adoption phase, because for your customers, their buying decision is just a milestone to what they want to achieve, their desired outcomes.
Next, align your internal selling processes to the customer’s path. Organizations that do that effectively (20.7%) saw quota attainment rates of 58.5%, which is an improvement of 8.9% compared to the study’s average. (click to tweet)
This is a foundational step that should be done in collaboration with sales operations. The purpose of this alignment is to ensure that all the steps and gates your buyers have to go through from identifying and understanding their business problem, all the way through the buying and the implementation phase are captured in your internal selling processes. This establishes a foundation that helps avoid buyer/seller misalignment.
Organizations that take this foundational step seriously achieved 8.9% better quota attainment compared to the study’s average of 53.7%. The costs of doing nothing are worse: quota attainment went down to 44.9% which is an actual decrease of 16.4% compared to the study’s average of 53.7%.
So, there is no other way to achieve results than getting the foundation right! The foundation is important, but customer’s path alignment continues.
Make sure that you also align your sales enablement services to the customer’s path. Organizations that do that (42.0%) achieved 8.1% better win rates compared to the study’s average of 49.5%. (click to tweet)
This step ensures that your enablement services, especially all your customer-facing and internal enablement content services are aligned to and tailored and targeted for the specific customer’s path phases. In this year’s study, an encouraging number of organizations (42.0%) reported aligning their enablement services to the customer’s path.
An example of this best practice would be creating specific content assets that can be used during the early awareness phases when buyers are analyzing their business problem and trying to understand its impact. Helpful content educates and helps the buyer understand the business impact of their decision and how it will solve their problem. Building a shared vision of the future and defining the desired outcomes is key to success on this phase. This no place for product pitching content. This practice also includes tailoring the messages to various buyer roles and to the language of the target industry. To do this effectively, enablement leaders must implement a content strategy.
Organizations that reported having this alignment in place (42.0%) achieved win rates of 53.5%, an actual increase of 8.1% compared to the study’s average of 49.5%. Also here, the costs of doing nothing are important to consider. Organizations that reported to not having their sales enablement services aligned to the customer’s path saw win rates of only 42.1%. That’s an actual decrease of 14.9%.
Effective sales enablement leaders know that aligning selling processes and enablement services to the customer’s path is mandatory, not optional. Those leaders know that the costs of doing nothing are almost twice as hard compared to the gains that can be achieved.
For ambitious sales and sales enablement leaders, there is only one way forward, and that is setting up a sales enablement strategy that is centered around customers as the primary design point, followed by aligning processes and enablement services.
Questions for you:
- How do you align your selling processes to the customer’s path? What are the obstacles you are running into?
- Are your sales enablement services aligned to the customer’s path, especially all your content services? If not, what holds you back?
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