In the B2B SaaS world, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions will be digital, and sales reps will become one of the many sales channels a prospect can learn about and buy software. This shift in how people buy means that sales professionals will also need to make a shift in how they sell in order to accommodate their prospective buyer’s needs.
As this shift is taking place, now is a great time to review and refine your buyer experience.
What is the buyer experience?
A buyer’s experience is how your prospect perceives your brand across touchpoints, beginning when your prospect becomes aware of their need and carrying throughout their journey. A buyer’s decision is heavily influenced by their experience, and if your buying experience is lacking, you’re likely losing sales, too.
One sales rep can make or break the buying experience for an individual customer, but there’s more to it. Having a connection to your brand and having your potential buyer have a good experience of your brand throughout the entire process is important too.
- A lack of product information
- A process that’s too complicated or has too many steps
- Sales collateral that isn’t easy to share with others involved in the decision
- Sales proposals that aren’t updated as the deal progresses and information changes
- Back and forth negotiations – the buyer prefers to select features and options and see the impact on pricing
Overall, 8 out of 10 software buyers said they were frustrated with their purchasing experience. We hope this data inspires you to rethink how you sell, create a better buyer experience, and gain an advantage over your competitors.
Why is the buyer experience crucial?
The buyer experience is crucial to sales success as it’s the buyers who determine if they want to move forward with your product or service. If the buyer has a bad experience trying to make a purchase, they may decide to avoid working with you or your company in the future.
While the buyer experience isn’t the only factor in whether or not a potential customer says yes, the data tells us it’s a big part of the purchase decision. Think about the last purchase you made. What was that buying experience like? Would you want to work with that sales rep or company again?
Most of us can remember the exceptional buyer experiences we’ve had over the years. Both good and bad. The really bad ones can be a good opportunity to learn what not to do, and the really good ones can inspire us to be the sales professionals we want to be.
Buyer experience vs. customer experience
If you’ve been in or around sales long enough, you’ve probably heard the terms buyer experience and customer experience used interchangeably. They’re actually not exactly the same thing and are sequential. The buyer experience comes first and is the process a prospect goes through to become a customer. This is more closely aligned with the buyer’s journey or the buying process.
The customer experience is the process of maintaining and growing relationships with existing customers. In many businesses, the sales team leads the buyer experience, while account managers or customer success professionals are charged with creating and improving the customer experience and keeping customer satisfaction high.
Another important distinction to remember is that the buyer experience is about converting prospects to customers, while the customer experience is also about customer retention and avoiding excessive customer churn.
How to improve the buying experience to close more deals with actionable examples
Improving your buying experience will help you close more sales deals. The term improve, however, is a bit vague, so you may want to quantify what “improvement” looks like first to ensure all of your key stakeholders are on the same page and you’re able to manage expectations better.
Once you’ve aligned on what metrics need improvement and by how much, here are some actionable ways to move the needle.
1. Align your buying experience to your buyer personas
Start the improvement process by dusting off your buyer personas or ideal client profiles. If these need to be updated, make sure to do that first. This will give you clarity about who you are selling to.
Next, map out the current buyer experience and think about it from the buyer’s point of view. What is happening at each stage of their journey? How does this feel to you? As salespeople, we sometimes focus on our own agendas and forget how much of each deal is driven by the buyer, so you want to make sure your buying experience feels supportive to them.
When looking at the process through the buyer’s lens, consider who is involved, what they’re seeing, and when. In order for a message to really stick, you might need to reinforce it a few times throughout the process. But, providing too much information and not enough context can frustrate your buyer.
Remember that your buyer also has many competing priorities and may not be able to provide you their undivided attention - so how do you stay top of mind for them when there are so many other things they need to focus on both at work and outside of the office?
2. Ensure you understand how buying decisions get made in your prospect’s organization
One place many sellers stumble is by underestimating the number of people who are involved in the sales process.
For example, if you sell a SaaS product that’s used by the sales team, you might be talking to the head of sales or a Chief Revenue Officer in your prospective client’s organization. But you might miss out on a sale if you don’t at least touch base with the Chief Technology Officer or The Chief Information Officer.
While these team members may not be the final decision makers, if you haven’t answered their questions about security or integrations with the current tech stack, they might be able to squash your deal. And if they can’t squash the deal completely, they may extend the sales cycle and drag things out for a few months. This leads to sellers needing to spend more time per deal and potential buyers being frustrated about how long it takes to start onboarding and implementing the new solution.
You can avoid some of this frustration by making sure you’re aligning with your buyer on what the internal buying process will look like and who is involved from their team. This could also include members of the team in procurement, finance, and legal.
Your goal is to make the process as easy as possible for everyone involved, and you can only do this once you know who these folks are and what they will need in order to be able to say yes.
3. Reduce friction in the buying journey and eliminate pain points.
The easier it is to buy a product, the more likely it is that you’ll get the yes. By understanding the buying process for your potential client, you can tailor your sales materials and sales presentations to reduce friction. This might mean a series of meetings or check-ins and some collateral that can easily be shared internally as the team is evaluating your product or service.
If your product has complicated functionality, consider providing easy-to-read one-sheets that explain how things work. You may also want to include some information on the onboarding process so that potential buyers can understand the support they will have once they sign on the dotted line.
You might also consider sharing some case studies or user experiences so your potential customers can envision your solution in their organization. If it feels appropriate, you may also want to connect them with a satisfied client to give your organization a reference - but wait until later in the buying journey and see if this feels appropriate.
4. Read and respond to online reviews
This one might not exactly be part of the buyer journey, but it’s important to consider your online reputation and that your prospects will most likely be googling you either before they meet with you or somewhere on the early side of the buying journey. So, you want to make sure you know what they might find and that you can control the narrative.
Take a look at any customer feedback you might find on review sites or on social media (especially LinkedIn if you’re selling B2B) and see what is being said about your company and product or service. If someone in your organization can respond to any reviews or negative posts in a polite and professional way, it will help to show your commitment not just to the buyer journey but also to your customer experience as well.
It’s also okay and encouraged to respond to positive reviews - thank the reviewers for sharing their experience and consider asking if you can use their testimonials in your sales and marketing materials.
Word of mouth is still a powerful marketing channel. In addition to what prospects are reading online, they’re likely speaking to colleagues in their industries to learn about solutions like yours. Managing your brand reputation and ensuring that people are saying positive things about you and your company both online and in real life will help improve your buyer journey and make it easier for you to sell.
5. Empower prospects to be able to say yes easily
This step can really be an extension of one of our earlier suggestions around understanding how your buyer’s process works. If you understand how things work, by extension, you should also understand who needs what to be able to say yes.
This could be in the form of the right information for the right people at the right time. Or, if you’re really proactive, you might also be able to glean insights as to how the agreement or contract needs to be written so that it can easily breeze through the procurement process and legal reviews.
If you know early in the deal that there are certain terms or clauses that legal is going to veto immediately, having the ability to work with your leadership and legal teams to come to a compromise will help things move along more smoothly.
6. Create resources that can easily be shared among decision-makers
These days, deals are rarely done through a single point of contact, and larger buying teams are often formed to make larger purchasing decisions. This is why it’s going to be critical that all of the members of the team have access to resources that will help them make their decisions.
We might be biased, but Qwilr makes it very easy to create and share resources that can be tailored both to the individuals on the team and also shared broadly. For deals with larger buying teams and a lot of action items, our mutual action plan template might be just the thing you need to keep everyone on the same page and house any action items or updates that come out of sales meetings or calls.
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7. Make continuous improvements to your buyer experience
Creating a good buyer experience is not a one-and-done exercise. What constitutes a good buyer experience can change from deal to deal too. This is why you always want to be learning about buyers’ needs and make improvements to the experience that you offer.
For example, if you’re tracking which emails prospects open and which ones they don’t, and you notice that your second email in a series is almost never being opened. A number of prospects are dropping out of the buying process there; you might want to look at both the contents of the first email and the subject line of the second email to gain any insight as to why people are disengaging.
At the end of any sales cycle, whether your deal is closed won or closed lost, you should have a short debrief and look at what worked well and what you might try to do differently in your next opportunity. Trying some smaller incremental experiments based on learning will allow you to learn faster and continuously improve.
What makes a good buying experience?
A good buying experience solves your potential customer’s need. It provides the right information at the right time to be able to make a purchase. This may be a mix of in-person meetings or virtual calls and collateral and product information.
What is the buyer experience process?
To create your buyer experience, you’ll want to start by creating a customer journey map. Include every step your buyer will need to take from the time they start thinking about making a purchase to the end of the deal. Then, you’ll want to create a process to support them each step of the way to ensure they have the most positive experience.
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Creating a great buying experience that ends with new loyal customers doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Consider the steps you’ll need to take in order to improve your current buyer experience for new customers.
Your potential buyers will come to appreciate all of the time and effort you’ve put into making their experience a great one. Need help creating sales materials such as proposals that will dazzle your buyers? Qwilr makes it easy to create and tailor materials that can be used throughout the buyer experience. Want to integrate with your CRM to pull in the most important data? We do that too. Sign up here for a demo to see Qwilr in action today.
About the author
Marissa Taffer|Founder & President of M. Taffer Consulting
Marissa Taffer is the Founder & President of M. Taffer Consulting. She brings over 15 years of sales and marketing experience across various industries to a broad range of clients.
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