Sales alignment connects your selling process to your customer’s buying journey.
The third in a four-part blog series explaining how frictionless selling will help grow your business.
Just interested in learning about how improving sales alignment with your customer’s needs will increase your sales? Well, that's OK too. Just keep on reading.
If you’re already following the inbound methodology then you already know every person coming into contact with your company should feel like they've been helped and understood during all stages of their buying journey.
The second phase of frictionless selling is all about how to better align your sales service with your client's needs to improve their buying experience while simultaneously generating more sales.
Sounds like a win-win for everyone, right?
But how do you improve your sales alignment with your client's needs and still ensure your company grows?
Your sales team has the biggest impact on this factor. After all, who do prospects first come into contact with at your company? Sales. Who speaks to prospects most when they’re considering their options. Sales. And who has the most influence when prospects are ready to buy? Yup, right again. Sales.
But the problem is salespeople don’t have a great reputation. With a lot of sales teams often focussing too much on ‘what’s in it for us?’ and not enough on ‘how can I best solve my client’s problem?’, customers have built up a deep suspicion whenever they feel they’re being ‘sold to’.
We’ve all felt the pain of fending off a pushy sales pitch. Salespeople who just won’t take no for an answer; ones who follow up either too soon and too often; never seem to fully listen to your problem, and even insist on trying to up-sell products or services you neither want or need. Sound familiar?
But if you want your company to be different, you need to remember potential customers don’t want to be ‘Prospected, Explored and Converted’ as they progress through your sales process. They want to be ‘Educated, Supported and Guided’ as they move through their buying journey. It’s time to put your client first.
This is where the sales alignment phase of frictionless selling can change your prospect's negative perception of the sales process, convince them why you're better than the competition, and ultimately increase your sales conversion rates.
The sales alignment phase of frictionless selling needs to be addressed at four separate but interlinked stages:
- Identifying a good-fit lead
- Connecting with them
- Exploring their needs
- Advising them on how to move forward
But how do you ensure your sales team address each of these touchpoints at each stage of the customer’s buying journey?
Sales reps arguable need two things to convert effectively: as much information as possible and clear ways to prioritise their leads. If done correctly, this process benefits both customer and sales alike as sellers get to target their most important leads first and buyers are not bombarded with offers they don’t want or need.
If your company is already using HubSpot CRM, then you’re probably already aware of the many tools available for both capturing prospect data and prioritising leads. But if not, then try and make sure whatever system you are working with is capable of this function - even if that's just at a basic level. You need to take the time to think about how you can both add value to your prospect by capturing relevant data in the least intrusive manner, and how you can reduce friction for your sales teams by ensuring they’re always only selling to interested parties through a frictionless aligned process.
It’s important to remember if you’ve already implemented an effective enablement phase for your sales team, then friction during sales alignment should already be minimal by the time your sales team connect with your prospects. But remember - your customers needs change over time. You need to stay vigilant.
For example, what if a customer wants information when your sales team aren't available? This might be a good place to implement a live chat function (either through an automated chatbot from a provider such as Drift, or through a manual ‘real-time’ account) to ensure your prospect's needs are met at a time to suit them.
Again, if you’re already using the HubSpot platform, you’ll be aware these types of tools are already available to your sales dept. But, you also need to play to your sales team’s strengths. For example, if you only have a small team, implementing a resource-intensive communication channel like ‘live-chat’ could ultimately damage your sales pipeline if clients cannot be serviced correctly, sales aligned or not.
Likewise, you also need to pay close attention to where and how your prospects want to communicate. With recent advances in communication technology such as instant messaging and video calls, long gone are the days where F2F or telephone meetings are the most effective options. Remember, you want to connect with clients on their terms, not yours, and you need to do so with your prospect’s buyer persona in mind at all times.
Historically, salespeople have qualified their leads with a focus on who has the best ‘budget & buying authority’ rather than the client’s need - meaning decisions on how much time to invest in each client during the early stages of their buying journey is based upon what the client can do for the salesperson. Hopefully, as you learn more about the benefits of an effective sales alignment process with your prospect’s buying journey, you can probably already tell this approach doesn't sit well with a frictionless ‘customer first’ sales approach.
Now, that doesn't mean your sales team need to waste time selling apples to those who only want to buy oranges. In fact, by investing more time early on, and trying to really understand your prospects needs, your sales team will be better positioned to advise if your company's product or service is even right for your potential client.
Think about it, which is going to cause your company more problems? The extra time spent advising a potential prospect in a consultative manner so they’re better positioned to make an informed choice? Or the headaches caused when an unhappy client realises your product or service doesn't solve their problem and complains? The first could lead to extra referrals, increased business, and an improved industry reputation. But the second only to multiple hours lost through negative customer service, potential refunds, and even unwanted negative social media attention.
Finally, your prospect is ready to buy. And if your sales teams are fully informed and product trained, and you’ve consistently implemented both a successful inbound approach and effective sales alignment with your prospect’s buying journey, then the conversion from lead to sale should be simple. However, there are a few things you mustn't forget.
For example, it’s worth remembering at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, your prospect is most likely drowning in data after being bombarded with facts from a variety of sources. Here, your prospect is most likely looking for clarity, not more information. So, instead of beginning a final pitch with yet another lengthy recap of how your company ‘was founded in ****’ etc. (as most sales meetings seem to begin), take the time to make sure your client is at the centre of the conversation at all times: try starting your pitch by recapping how you fully understand their problem and not by only talking about your company values.
In conclusion, if you want to increase your sales, grow your company at a healthy rate, and retain more clients for longer, then you need to ensure your prospects always come first. By ensuring your prospects are always the centre of your sales process, and by aligning your selling process with your every stage of the buying journey, sales conversions become suddenly become a lot easier and your company will grow.