Sales alignment: sell more by putting your customer first

October 16, 2019
By Andy

Sales alignment connects your selling process to your customers' buying journey.

The third in a four-part blog series explaining how frictionless selling will help grow your business.

Read more about how frictionless sales will grow your business

If you’re already following the inbound methodology, then you 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 about how to better align your sales service with your clients' needs to improve their buying experience while simultaneously generating more sales.

Sounds like a win-win for everyone, right?

But how do you better align your sales process with your clients' needs and still ensure your company grows?

Your sales team has the biggest impact on this. 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 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, who 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?

If you want 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 these touchpoints at each stage of the customer’s buying journey?

Identify

Sales reps need two things to convert prospects to customers: 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 aware of the many tools available for both capturing prospect data and prioritising leads. But if not, make sure whatever system you are working with is capable of this function - even if just at a basic level.

You need to work out 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.

Connect

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.

Explore

Historically, salespeople have qualified their leads with a focus on who has the best ‘budget & buying authority’ rather than needs. This means decisions on how much time to invest in each client are often based on what the client can do for the salesperson when it should be the reverse.

Now, that doesn't mean your sales team need to waste time selling apples to those who only want oranges. In fact, by investing more time early on, and trying to better 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 you 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.

Advise

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 more 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 understand their problem and not by talking about your company values.

In conclusion, to increase your sales, grow your company at a healthy rate, and retain more clients for longer, then you need to ensure your prospects not your sales teams always come first. 

Learn how the third and final stage of frictionless selling can transform your company culture and generate more sales.

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