B2B sales organizations must take a more situationally aware approach, tuning engagement skills and tactics with empathy for, and personalization to, a prospective buyer’s current state, according to Gartner, Inc. Standardized customer engagement in today’s buying environment will only get sellers so far, even with the best methodology.
“Today’s buyers have strong preferences and seemingly endless choice in their purchase decisions,” said Tom Cosgrove, senior director analyst in the Gartner Sales practice. “Simply being sensitive to this reality is woefully inadequate for sellers and marketers to cut-through the noise and differentiate themselves in buyers’ eyes. The clearest path to success lies at the intersection of sense making tactics and buyer-situational awareness.”
Sense making tactics help customers prioritize various sources of information, quantify trade-offs and reconcile conflicting information when making a complex purchase decision. It is based on a market-in view from the customer’s perspective, where sales reps acknowledge the information overload and offer the customer both reassurance and guidance.
In order for these efforts to be truly valuable, chief sales officers (CSOs) must prepare their teams to go deeper with greater levels of empathy and understanding. Gartner refers to this as situational awareness - built on the premise that every buying situation is unique, but with patterns that repeat across organizations.
Most sales organizations treat customers largely the same by applying a standardized engagement process that discounts each customer’s unique situation. However, these traditional approaches are less effective because customer situations are increasingly different.
“Tailoring, not just messaging, the entire selling approach according to a customer’s context should focus on helping the buying stakeholders with the implications of a change or purchase decision,” said Alice Walmesley, director, advisory in the Gartner Sales practice. “This situational tuning of sense making tactics is necessary for an agile selling approach that drives buyer confidence and consensus. When done right, it can improve buyer decision making quality by 11%.”
CSOs looking to deploy sales strategies that increase buyer confidence and bring empathy to their organizations’ selling efforts should:
- Create customer situation-driven engagements by identifying common buying situations, then train selling teams to adapt their approach to a customer’s needs in the moment with situational tuning.
- Augment the current work on segmentation and the ideal customer profile by accounting for empathy’s role in driving individual stakeholder engagement with a purchase and prioritizing those where the situation is most advantageous.
- Engage buyers through an intelligently coordinated purchase experience by delivering proactive and prescriptive situation-specific support for all engagement channels and touchpoints.
- Design points of seller mediation into a typical digital buying journey by identifying key decision stage gates where human interaction can sustain momentum, boost confidence and drive consensus with colleagues.
Additional information is available to Gartner for Sales clients in the report: Reimagine Standardized Buyer Engagement With Sense Making and Situational Awareness.
About the Gartner CSO & Sales Leaders Conference
Sales leaders face unprecedented changes in B2B buying behaviors, customer expectations, technology and the talent needed to drive results. At the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, taking place virtually on May 16-18, 2022, sales leaders will learn from the latest research and Gartner experts covering sales talent, customer buying behavior, account-based marketing strategies and leveraging digital channels. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerSales.
About Gartner for Sales Leaders
Gartner for Sales Leaders provides heads of sales and their teams with the insights, advice and tools they need to address mission-critical priorities amid mounting pressures to drive growth through new and existing customers. With extensive qualitative and quantitative research, Gartner for Sales Leaders helps sales teams combat commoditization and price-based purchasing, develop critical manager and seller skills, elevate the value of sales interactions, unlock existing growth potential, and optimize sales force enablement. Follow news and update from the Gartner Sales practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerSales.