Customer Outcomes: A New Focus for B2B Sales Growth
by Angie Holmes, on Feb, 10, 2021
We see a shift in the business world.
Customer experiences and our focus on them are starting to take a backseat to helping customers achieve desired outcomes. In this new paradigm, sellers must intimately understand the buyer's journey while keeping the buyer's ultimate drivers and goals the focus of their engagement with buyers.
Today's Buyers are Seeking a Trusted Advisor
In today's market, we know that 67% of the B2B buyer's decision-making occurs before they've ever worked with a salesperson. By this time, customers have the product knowledge and a good idea of the solution they are seeking.
But have they thoroughly examined their business problem or pain point, or quantified their desired outcomes? The seller's role is to approach the customer at the right time, asking the right questions, and listen intently. Sellers should try to uncover the root cause of the buyer's issues through integrative conversation. This includes understanding the cost or impact of doing nothing, or sticking with the status quo.
These steps, combined with the other data points they've been able to capture through intelligent analytics, should help construct a preliminary solution validated by the prospective buyer against their intended outcomes.
It's essential for the seller to "paint the art of the possible" with their solution tailored to the buyer's priorities, thus avoiding the perception of a "cookie-cutter" approach. What does company X do to fulfill their needs better than alternatives, and what does the company X product look and feel like in the customer's environment? With our daily lives inundated with technology, buyers want both a personalized experience and a clear understanding of the value your solution will deliver.
The Integrity of Promises + Empathy are Key for Sales Growth
How will your solution help make your prospect the hero in their organization?
By working together to understand both the company's desired outcomes and the individual buyer's goals, the seller creates value and quickly becomes that trusted advisor the customer seeks. The partnership not only brings about a committed relationship but also usually leads to a growth account.
It's increasingly important for sellers to lead with empathy and understanding of the customer's pain point to build the right level of trust. In an article on the HubSpot blog, Carl Ferreira, HubSpot Account Executive, advises reps to lead with the prospect in mind.
- Who are they?
- How are they doing?
- What challenges are they facing?
Leading with genuine curiosity, concern, and a real interest in helping your prospect to do their work better will help sales reps stand out in the 'sea of same.' Empathy is not an emotion to fake while having a plan to cram a solution down their throat."
Sales growth only occurs when there's 'proof in the pudding.' The buyer feels heard, validated, and measurable value is delivered.
Too often, salespeople set high expectations and offer promises to customers that they may or may not fulfill to win the business. Although unintentional, it creates divisiveness in the relationship as buyers aren't confident that achieving the stated objectives will occur. This skepticism becomes particularly challenging for the customer success team responsible for retaining and growing the customer's business to overcome.
Sellers and cross-functional support teams must align the deal's goals, and you should assess the buyer's journey through all of its stages and gates. In this outcomes-focused scenario, commitments with measurable results and best practices that helped unlock the solution create a repeatable framework applied across customers.
Of course, the seller must also invest in the success of the relationship. A sure-fire way to jumpstart this is to identify a tangible quick win. Seek to fully understand the impact your solution can drive and quickly key in on initiatives that will deliver immediate ROI and demonstrated value.
Mutual Accountability Leads to Successful Shared Outcomes
From a bird's eye view, it seems that the buyer is in the driver's seat when both parties must be accountable for the successful achievement of the outcome.
The buyer has committed with his wallet but should also stay engaged with his time to ensure high adoption and solution utilization. He or she must be open, transparent, and communicative, especially as priorities shift. In comparison, suppliers should nurture the customer and maintain frequent and transparent dialogue to advance both the relationship and results.
Understanding the ongoing seller/buyer dynamic is critical for customer retention as well as sales growth. Outbound Engine's blog notes that:
Increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%, and the success rate of selling to a customer you already have is 60-70%, while the success rate of selling to a new customer is 5-20%."
By focusing on shared outcomes, a committed and mutually beneficial partnership can be cemented, leading to future opportunities and increased revenue for you.
Outcomes Accelerate Sales Cycles + Increase Customer Loyalty
By striving to understand the buyer's initiatives and connecting your solution to those, sellers can win attention and budget while compressing the overall sales cycle. Ensuring a consistent and smooth experience from the top of the sales funnel through onboarding and ongoing support of the buyer builds a lasting relationship and continued account success. Sales growth and increased customer loyalty are natural byproducts of an aligned, trusted, and committed relationship.