If you had a magic wand, would you use it to read your clients’ minds? That would certainly make the sales and decision-making process easier. But have you put yourself in their shoes?
In an effort to better understand how clients think, Gallup published a report on the topic. And even though it mostly focuses on B-to-B sales, there are some takeaways that you can apply to your practice to improve communications with clients, strengthen relationships and increase sales.
Avoid the blind spots
There are different types of people involved in the buying process, according to Gallup: those who make the buying decisions or those that influence them. Once you can identify who is playing which role, you can adjust your selling method and concentrate on the decision-maker.
Influencers: they can be the ones who set the standards or the ones who play an advisory role. Some examples could be your prospect’s family and friends.
Decision-makers: the ones who have the funds and ultimately make the buying decision.
Buyers and end users: Usually, your buyers will be your end users, but it is important that you identify each role.
For those who have account teams that handle clients, the report cautions that companies can’t assume that their account teams understand their clients’ roles. Gallup’s research demonstrates how account teams sometimes classified clients as decision-makers, when they only influenced a decision or had no effect on it, or the account teams failed to identify people as the decision-makers and those “who could strongly influence a purchase decision.”
To avoid a disconnect between account teams, companies should systematically measure buying center knowledge and client relationships with the account teams.
Step 1: Assess the buying knowledge
Gallup found that while some account teams thought they knew their clients very well, the data showed they did not. Some teams failed to correctly identify influencers, decision-makers and those with little or no role in the purchasing process. The takeaway? The roles of each of the people involved needs to be clear before moving forward with a sales pitch.
Step 2: Analyze client engagement
Another exercise done was measuring customer engagement. Clients’ evaluations of the purchasing process should have matched the account teams’ evaluation. But what they found was “far more disturbing. There was almost no correlation between the two sets of ratings. That’s right, the account teams had no idea how their customers actually felt about the company,” Gallup says.
To avoid this “blind spot,” companies need objective customer feedback to manage those relationships at the account team level. In other words: Because the sales process is never really over, you do need feedback from your clients in order to serve them better.