Having a robust sales strategy is essential for any business to achieve its sales targets for the year. However, every year most companies are finding it gets harder and harder to meet or exceed their quotas. Why?
Over the years, you will likely have honed and perfected your sales process until it runs smoothly and successfully. But, have you ever looked at the process your buyers go through to get to the point of sale? For most businesses, the answer is “no,” and this is a mistake. As successful selling becomes harder to achieve, buyer enablement can no longer be ignored. In this article, we’re here to tell you why not.
What is Buyer Enablement?
As the sales process for B2B tends to be complex, buyer enablement is all about placing the customer in a position where it makes it much easier to decide to buy.
To understand this fully, we first need to know what the buying process looks like. Those responsible for buying within a business typically go through the following steps:
- First off is identifying the problem within the business
- After the issues have been found, exploring potential solutions comes next
- To reach the solutions, the requirements then have to be developed
- Once these elements are in place, the buying team identifies suitable suppliers and selects one.
- The chosen supplier is validated
- The final stage is getting all stakeholders within the business to agree on the decision.
To go through this process, the buying team will use many different channels and media to gain the information they need. These include company websites, reviews, recommendations, publications, social media, industry news, and more. Many businesses wrongly assume that a sales representative is contacted relatively early on in the process, but they’re usually approached after all other information sources have been researched.
There are three main problems with this process and this is what buyer enablement aims to solve:
With such an abundance of information out there, it can be challenging to wade through it all to reach an informed decision. Every company claims to be the best at what it does. When you’ve got 50 businesses all stating they’re the leaders in their industry, how do you know which one to trust? Buyers crave information that is designed to aid their buying process. They don’t need broad claims, boasts, or non-specific information.
Complex buying process
Even though the buying steps are neatly outlined above, the reality is often far less linear than that. Typically, the larger and more bespoke the purchase, the more chaotic the buying process. Buyers can face obstacles such as budget constraints, push-back and resistance, industry uncertainty, and more. All of this can seriously hinder or complicate the buying process.
Too many cooks
We’ve seen that around a dozen people or more can be involved in the buying process. Getting everyone to agree is no easy task. These buying committees tend to be made up of high-level individuals and stakeholders within the business and the aim is to gain confidence across the board before committing to the sale.
Making the Buying Process Easier
A business that has recognized the pain points of the customer buying process has already begun to lay the foundations of buyer enablement. If your business has solutions in place to combat those pain points, you are practicing buyer enablement.
Hopefully, by now, you will have recognized and understood that the customer buying process is not a smooth road. You may even have experienced this yourself with your own company’s buying process. Your own buying process is an excellent place to start when educating yourself on the complexities it involves.
Now we’re on to the next stage, which is to begin implementing a strategy to help your buyers reach a decision easily. We’ve identified six key ways to do this.
Start With Your Content
Remember that businesses start by looking at the content and information available from potential suppliers. If your content is substandard, you won’t even get yourself off the starting block, never mind reach the contract-signing stage.
Now is the time to assess the information you put out to the world by putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Ask yourself whether your information is:
- factual and informative.
- easy to navigate and find.
- presented in a clear, understandable language without the use of jargon, acronyms, or other terms that the buyer might not understand.
- Presented with valid case studies or reviews.
- Accompanied by what third parties are saying, such as quotes from review sites.
Your website is the gateway to your business, so you need to make it shine. All product information needs to be laid out clearly and explained. It also needs to be simple to find and navigate. Information about your operations and business must be factual and to the point. Steer clear of grandiose statements about how amazing you are. If your B2B website design is clear and showcases enough useful knowledge, that will show the customer that you are an expert in your industry.
Blogs and Articles
Blog posts and expert articles are a key component of buyer research. If you’re publishing high-quality, expertly written articles, this will help establish you as an industry leader without the need to say so yourself. Think of what information the buyer might need from various areas of your business, then create useful content on these subjects.
The information you post to social media is critical. Your website and social media channels tend to be the first places buyers look for more information about your business. Posting regular, relevant, and in-depth content at strategic times will help the buyer along their journey.
Case studies and testimonials show potential buyers how you provide benefits and solutions for your customers. Start each case study by outlining the customer’s pain points and go into detail on how you solved them.
Your case studies should be easy to find. Make sure that they are available on your website as well as on social media.
White Papers and Analysis
If you’ve made the short-list of a potential buyer, the next step for them is to research what kind of industry analysis, statistics, and forecasts you provide. This is the right time to offer them white papers, reports, and other in-depth analyses that you have conducted.
Know and Understand Your Customers Buying Process
Once you get to know how your customers through the buying process, you’ll be able to identify a number of things quickly. You’ll understand:
- What needs to take place and in what sequence
- The potential obstacles and pitfalls
- Who is likely to be involved in the buying process
- What responsibilities decision-makers have
The easiest way to gain accurate information is by asking some of your existing customers about their buying process. While they are all likely to differ somewhat, the information you get will allow you to build a blueprint of the typical buying process and key stages to consider. Once you know what this looks like, you can then start to identify which tools, information, and methods you can implement to make things easier and smoother for the buyer.
Know and Understand Everyone Involved in the Buying Process
At first glance, this may seem like an unnecessary step. If you have current prospects, however, it’s crucial to know every person involved with the buying process. This information will become invaluable for building the right relationships and understanding where to concentrate your efforts. It’ll additionally save time because you’ll know exactly who to approach at any given time during the buying process.
Once you’ve identified each individual on the committee, go more in-depth with your research to discover:
- What is your relationship like with each individual?
- Who is the owner of the problem you’re trying to solve?
- How resistant or accepting of change is each person?
- Who holds the power of decision?
- Who is your closest ally or allies?
- Who do your allies meet most resistance from and why?
- Who do your allies influence the most?
Getting a clear picture of how the organization works and the politics behind it is going to give you an insight into potential hurdles throughout the process. More importantly, it will allow you to understand precisely how you can help them better.
Provide Tools to Enhance Buyer Enablement
There are a variety of tools available that you can offer your potential clients to make their buying experience easier. Some of the most popular are:
- Calculators: you can make these available for a variety of reasons. They can help visitors work out cost savings, ROI, quantity vs. discount, and other useful calculations that will help them make a buying decision and /or present information to others.
- Simulators: These show your customers exactly how your product or service will look and operate. Visualization aids such as these can be very helpful for getting people on the same page quickly.
- Questionnaires: Useful diagnostic tools to help customers understand which of your products would be best for their needs, identify pain-points, and recognize requirements.
- Advice prompter: Based on the searches performed and information sought, an advice prompter can offer relevant, useful advice to visitors at appropriate times.
- Customer journey: Demonstrate how your customers use your solution. Show how they began with a problem, how things progressed, and an example of the favorable outcome they can expect if they follow suit.
Equip Your Ally
You will have already identified your fiercest ally in the buying committee. It’s not up to them to do all the hard work, though. Now you need to equip them with everything they need to empower them to get the deal through.
- Give them a list of questions they need to ask the team to kick things off
- Equip them with the key data and information to overcome objections
- Give them the tools, expertise, and materials required to support their arguments
- Add business value by offering different viewpoints and perspectives
- Advise them who within the organization should be involved in the process to come to the best decision
The more you equip your ally, the more they will fight your corner during the research phase. You will be making it easier for them to get other committee members on side and the more people you have fighting for you, the more positive the outcome is likely to be for you.
Review and Evaluate
Becoming a buyer enabler doesn’t happen overnight. It can be tough to shift away from the “salesperson” mindset and focus on what the customer needs during the buying process.
Take each potential customer as an opportunity to learn and develop further into a buyer enabler. Whether you win or lose the customer, be certain to gather feedback. This can be as simple as information gathered through a questionnaire or, if you feel it’s appropriate, you can hold a face-to-face interview to get into detail.
While it’s great to hear about what you did well, the real gold lies in the areas where you fell. Use this information to improve your performance for the next time. Slowly, but surely, you will perfect your buyer enablement process and transform a fledgling proposition into something with exceptional added value.
By making the transition from sales enabler to buyer enabler, you should gain an edge over your competitors. Change is never easy, so it’s going to take hard work to get there, but when you do, it will repay you with a difference you can see in your bottom line.
Need some help getting started? We’d be happy to help.