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  • Mercer Smith-Looper

How to Modernize your Buyer Experience

One of the best things you can do to improve your sales velocity is to make the sales process as enjoyable as possible. Most likely, your customers have tons of competitors that they could be choosing from — the biggest differentiator is often the experience you provide. Your sales process is the start of your relationship with most of your customers. Do you want things to feel clunky and unoptimized, or do you want to wow them with how modern and sleek it feels? I assume the latter. There are a few key places where you can modernize your sales…

One of the best things you can do to improve your sales velocity is to make the sales process as enjoyable as possible. Most likely, your customers have tons of competitors that they could be choosing from — the biggest differentiator is often the experience you provide. Your sales process is the start of your relationship with most of your customers. Do you want things to feel clunky and unoptimized, or do you want to wow them with how modern and sleek it feels? I assume the latter.

There are a few key places where you can modernize your sales cycle to start building a good relationship from the get-go. In this blog post, we’ll break down what those spots are and how you can go about making your sales cycle start working for you.

Inject sales into every part of the customer experience

The customer journey looks pretty similar for most companies. Here’s an example of what one might traditionally look like: 

You may assume that many of the steps on this journey fall to your marketing or customer experience teams’ expertise, but the fact is that you can inject sales into almost every aspect of the buyer journey. And, if you’re focusing on making your sales cycle more modern, having your team involved in more customer touchpoints is an excellent way to do it. Here’s what involvement at each stage might look like:

Awareness

Social selling is becoming increasingly important and valuable as a method of lead generation. Help sales reps position themselves as thought leaders on social media and encourage them to connect and chat with potential buyers.

Findability

Use your sales team’s knowledge to inform your marketing team about the actual language that prospects and leads use when talking about your brand. That way, your marketing team can hone search keywords and header information to match what potential customers will search for.

Reputation

Use your sales team to source content for case studies and white papers before people even become full-time buyers. Hopefully, your sales team will have built great connections with your customers and will know better than anyone who has the potential to be successful.

Conversion

Conversion is traditionally in sales’ domain, anyway. In this step, your sales team should be positioning themselves as thought partners and guides through the process. Most of the rest of this blog post will focus on other ways to streamline this section of the customer journey.

Advocacy

If your customer will be working with your customer success team, one of the best things that your sales team can do is to introduce them with a warm handoff. Beyond that, setting the customer up with knowledge for how they’ll do things like reach out to support, get billing questions answered, and generally navigate the product can be a great way to generate even more goodwill. Also, always ask for referrals, even if it’s just via an automated email.

Move towards “always-on” availability

In CustomerGuage’s CX study, they found that companies that fail to close the loop with customers on their needs increase their churn by a minimum of 2.1% per year. If you’re a business that is making a lot of high-value sales, this level of churn could make up anywhere between 5% and 25% of your revenue annually.

Make it easy for customers to research and buy from any platform at any time of day without the need for interaction from your sales team. Beyond that, try to make your sales team as accessible as possible. You can do that with automation and bots, as we’ll discuss later, or by breaking out your team’s hours by timezone to make sure there’s always someone on the clock.

Use modern tools

Instead of having a multi-step process for things like POs and approvals, consider investing in tools that address multiple needs within a single platform. For instance, 65% of all emails are usually opened on a mobile device first. Are your proposals, purchase orders, or other sales collateral easy to open on mobile? Have you made it easy for your team to generate mobile-first documentation and send it to your customers? Proposal software, like Qwilr, lets you implement super-quick generation templates and give your customers an effortless experience viewing and providing payments. If you’ve been using the same process for years, it’s probably time to look at it and see if there’s something out there to make your or your customers’ lives better.

Start social selling

People like to spend time with and be around people they like. One of the best ways to generate leads naturally is for your sales team to capture your customers’ attention in the places where they already spend time: social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn. 

Selling on social doesn’t mean that you send people random emails or messages out of the blue. That’s still cold emailing, just done with the facilitation of a social media site instead of an email client. Find ways for your sales team to provide value through posts, sharing, or interactions with people’s content. That builds a relationship before your salesperson asks if they can get their foot in the door. You cultivate people’s trust first and then ask for their buy-in—it’s much smoother and more enjoyable for all parties involved. Stand out from the crowd and provide value before you ask if they’re interested in what you’re selling.

Personalize the experience

Your customers like thinking that you know who they are and what they care about. It makes them feel important when it feels like you’ve gone out of your way to understand them. Give your team context and information before every sales interaction so that they seem informed and helpful, rather than underprepared. The CEB found that the sales experience drives 53% of customer loyalty:

Specifically, customers want reps to understand their individual experiences, offer valuable insights, navigate potential pitfalls, and support their needs. When you provide information and context for your reps upfront, they’re much better at serving customers.

Consider using a CRM where all of your teams’ insights end up, from notes to call logs to customer conversations. That way, your sales team knows where to go when they need to make sure they have the most up-to-date information. An added bonus is that it helps your other customer-facing teams, too.

Automate as much as you can

So you need to be quick at all hours, social media savvy, and personalize as much as possible. The best way to do that is to staff up a gigantic team of people working around the clock to maximize your team’s effectiveness. Unfortunately, most companies don’t have the budget for that—and that’s okay. Automation and AI can pick up a lot of the slack where your team might not have the staff to perform. Even with a big team, automation can help you accomplish more than you could without it. 

Buyers are more comfortable with AI and self-service than ever before. Many companies focus on creating a low-touch sales process so efficient that many customers are already 57% of the way through the buying process before they ever reach out to sales.

Use things like AI, chatbots, and your self-service documentation to empower your customers to figure it out themselves before they need to reach out to you. That way, your team can get people excited about the product rather than just talking through pricing. Let your sales team have the fun job of teaching your customers about what your product is doing for the world at large, how it will solve their problems, and how they can have an impact. Leave learning about pricing and individual features to a website.

Bring your sales cycle up to speed

The first step to modernizing your sales cycle is realizing that it’s not just a small part of the customer journey—you should infuse sales throughout each step of the way. Work your sales team into everything from awareness to advocacy, and you’ll create a much healthier flywheel from the start. Allow automation and AI to work for you, increasing your coverage globally and informing your customers about things like basic pricing packages and features.

Get yourself some useful, new tools. You probably wouldn’t want to drive the same car for 20 years, so why are you still using sales technology, like PDFs, that is 30 years old? Similarly, consider getting your sales team up to speed on social selling. Use the new tools at your fingertips to get yourself a leg up on the lead generation process.

Your customers want to know who you are, and they want to feel a connection to you. Personalize your sales experiences, and make sure you educate your sales team about what your customers care about. Let them be the inspiration that takes your prospects forward into becoming customers. The future is looking modern and bright.

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