Customers’ buying behaviour has changed considerably in the past few years. How can companies respond to this challenge? How do you organise sales in a digital world? Are you still sending your salespeople out like talking brochures, or will you take action? And how? A diagnosis.
Time for a sales reboot
Since 2012, the results of a multitude of studies about the changing buying behaviour of customers have been published. However, many companies only take action when the impact really becomes painful. And it’s often too late by then. It is therefore advisable to take action proactively. But can you motivate people and organise your sales in such a manner that the transition can take place in a timely and painless manner?
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Avoid a reaction that is either too soft or too hard
There are two ways to react to the reality of changing buying behaviour.
- (Too) many companies continue to assure their clients that with some adjustments, the existing commercial solutions are immune to the changes. Unfortunately, the sales pipeline is like the arteries in our body. If we do not adopt a healthy lifestyle, they slowly get clogged up. The consequences in the long term are disastrous. Holding on to old habits is not the solution.
- Others call for a revolution. The world is no longer the same, which is why a drastic transformation of sales is required. We have to start over! That means completely redesigning the processes and systems and preparing for the future! That may be so, but… intrusive action often triggers a shock effect, which in turn has serious consequences.
Opt for the human approach!
How can you react to the constantly changing world? Doing nothing is not an option. Starting all over again is not the right solution, either. Actually, the answer is simple: we have to evolve together with our customers. Selling is and will always be a people business, even online. The impact we are noticing with our customers and prospects shows that the changes are real. It is therefore necessary to develop a change process as soon as possible. This way, the changes can be implemented gradually and on a human scale. Without disruptions or all too radical actions.
Toward a new role for salespeople
All change processes are based on insights. Customers are still overwhelmed by salespeople who are sent out by their employers like some sort of talking brochures, although they don’t care about salespeople bombarding them with arguments and the benefits of the products they try to sell. Some consultants take advantage of this fact by stating that salespeople will disappear altogether. Nothing could be further from the truth, but it is true that the role of salespeople is changing drastically.
60% of the sales opportunities come to nothing because the customer does not buy or does not change suppliers.
The sales cycles have become 22% longer since 2012 and your biggest competitor is no longer your direct competitor, but customers who do “nothing”. Recent research has shown that up to 60% of the opportunities are simply closed in CRM because the customer doesn’t buy anything or is not willing to change suppliers. You can imagine the impact on the sales cost.
Sales are needed as long as you:
- … incorporate the right mix of digital and human touchpoints in the entire buying cycle of the customer. This depends on the complexity of the product or service you offer, but mainly on the impact on the customer.
- … use an interpersonal approach focused on supporting customers and creating added value. This requires the salespeople to have contact with an increasing number of different persons with the customer and at other moments during the buying cycle.
- … adjust the sales pitches to every moment during the buying cycle and to the profile of the persons with whom the salespeople are to engage in dialogue.