To simplify the buying process for B2B customers, sales reps should guide them through the complexities that precede a purchase.
The role customers and sellers play has changed. B2B customers have access to more information, have to gain more buy-in internally and have a growing number of options to evaluate. By the time these customers interact with sellers, they have a slew of questions and demands.
Sales organizations then respond with prompt information and answers and adjust offerings to better meet customer needs. The logic across sales organizations makes sense: To better differentiate in the market, be more responsive to customer demands. But this approach, in fact, is making it harder for customers to make buying decisions.
The more overwhelmed customers are, the more likely they are to regret their purchases
“Surprisingly, being responsive to customers in an effort to drive increased differentiation is making it harder for customers to buy solutions,” Scott Collins, principal executive advisor at Gartner, says. “Instead, it gives more options and information to an already overwhelmed buyer.”
Not only does this extend the buying process, it’s making the process more exhausting to customers. The more overwhelmed customers are, the more likely they are to regret their purchases. A “win” in sales today isn’t always a “win.”
Don’t just respond; instead, recommend
B2B customers make a multitude of decisions when buying a solution. The sales organization and its reps can guide buyers based on past experience with similar clients. Their insights enable them to move customers toward a purchase that solves their business problem.
A prescriptive approach can increase a customer’s purchase ease by 86%
This prescriptive approach guides customers to information, decisions and options that matter most in the purchase decision, but most importantly, provides clear recommendations that move them through the buying process with the greatest level of ease. The research shows that a prescriptive approach can increase a customer’s purchase ease by 86%.
“Prescription works because it effectively cuts through the clutter of information and choices, guiding them through key purchase decisions,” says Collins.
By providing “do this” and “do not do this” recommendations, sales organizations can also increase the chances of winning high-quality deals. Better still, customers are less likely to regret their purchases compared to a responsive approach. Eliminating customers’ purchase regret is important to maintain their loyalty and advocacy.
Embed a prescriptive approach
Effective sellers learn the challenges and decisions B2B buyers face from past experiences to prescribe the way forward for customers. Sales leaders need to look at a prescriptive approach as an operational shift at the organizational level versus a sales rep skill shift.
To do this, leaders should successfully implement prescription into the seller workflow through these steps:
- Map the stages of the customer buying process to understand how best to support customers through each step. Sellers learn the buyer signals or cadence of action that is most appropriate to move the customer forward and can effectively align their sales strategy and activities.
- Identify the customer decision roadblocks that must be overcome in the purchasing process. Once identified, sellers can anticipate stall points or places where customers are likely to go off course.
- Align prescriptive interventions to identified challenges or preemptively guide customers around roadblocks to keep them moving toward a purchase decision. Provide clarity and guidance when customers need it most.
Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can read Taming Sales Complexity: Making It Easier for Customers to Buy