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How to avoid blind spots during the selling process

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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.

blind spot

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.

customer

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.

interaction

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.

Step 3: Take ownership of the client relationship.

Gallup recommends that companies develop a “relationship map” to improve client engagement. This means laying out the “network” of everyone involved in the decision-making, influencing and purchasing process. The conversation should start with the decision-makers, followed by influencers, buyers and, finally, end users.

Advisors should ask their prospects or clients a series of open-ended questions about the key factors that most strongly influence customer engagement, for example:

  • What are we doing well?

  • How can we build on this strength to help you create impact for your business?

  • Where can we improve our business relationship?

  • What is missing in our business relationship?

  • What can we do better?

Listen, take notes and present the findings to the sales or account team. Then, consolidate the information, brainstorm follow-up actions and design an improvement plan. Ideas and solutions shouldn’t be based on “gut feelings,” but rather on what they’ve learned from their conversations with clients or prospects.

To ensure success, this plan should be carried out regularly and progress should be documented and analyzed towards meeting the sales team goals. And, as a follow up, teams should ask their clients if they have noticed and appreciate the changes.

The report emphasizes that thinking of ways to improve client relationship should become part of the sales team daily work routine. 

See also:

How to help the consumer make a smart insurance purchase

Why prospects hate making decisions

4 factors that make a prospect decide to buy

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