March 5 by Eric Dreshfield
In a recent post, we discussed how companies need to innovate to stay competitive. We emphasized that the key to successful selling in the digital service economy means making the complex business transaction simple, and doing what’s right for the customer. It’s a model that’s working well in the consumer services world – just look at organizations like Amazon. They epitomize the concept of easy to do business with. B2B Enterprises are now realizing there is great value in providing products and services to their customers in much the same manner. Apttus customer DSV, a global logistics and transportation company, strives to achieve the perfect shipment, and customer satisfaction from pickup to delivery. Apttus Intelligent Middle Office for CPQ and CLM drove the results they were looking for.
What is it that other successful companies are doing to drive sales and achieve customer satisfaction? They sell via their customers’ preferred channels.
What the Experts Say
We asked several of today’s most respected sellers for their comments on why it’s so important to sell in your customer’s preferred channels. Here’s what they had to say:
“As modern selling continues to expand into more digital channels, multi-channel customer engagement will no longer be reserved for just marketing and customer service. Today’s engagement options must consider SMS, chat, mobile chat, and video. The two major factors driving channel expansion are: 1) the focus on providing a buying experience on the channel customers most prefer; and 2) the massive increase in the amount of time sales reps spend selling via virtual channels, which is 3X over that of meeting in person.” – Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth and Innovation Evangelist, Salesforce and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author of Growth IQ.
“For our small to medium size customers, our goal is to provide a frictionless online experience, where prospects can educate themselves, try the product, and purchase without having to speak to a sales rep. We also have a sales team available to those customers that have questions or need help through the purchase lifecycle. In order to eliminate conflict, the sales reps are compensated regardless of whether the customer purchases online or through a sales-assisted process. This allows customers to buy how they prefer, and our sales team is incented to direct the customer toward whichever process is easier for them.” – Jaimie Buss, Vice President of Sales – North America, Zendesk.
“There is no one preferred channel. For familiar, repeat purchases, buyers increasingly prefer a low- or no-touch approach that simplifies, streamlines, and automates the process. For complex, unfamiliar purchases, buyers appreciate the value of having consultative conversations with salespeople who are experts in addressing their needs.” – Bob Apollo, Founder, Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners.
Any Channel, All Channels: Omni-Channel
“People want an omni-channel experience, whether they walk into your business premises, touch your website, scroll through a mobile app whether, or tweet/reply/comment using their favorite social platforms. The experience the people get in consumer environments has become an expectation the business world as well.” – Tony J. Hughes, CEO and Managing Director, RSVP Sales and Author of Combo Prospecting.
“We are likely to see the emergence and rise of B2B e-commerce exchanges, where buyers have a variety of options at their fingertips before even interacting with a salesperson: AI chatbots, speaking with other buyers, reviews from customers (ex: Capterra, G2 Crowd, Trust Radius, etc.), and seller provided content (check out Journey Sales’ Smart Rooms sometime). Once they’ve received the information they were looking for, they’ll move on to interacting with sales pros who can answer questions, deliver customized demos, develop solutions (perhaps aided by sales engineers or solution architects), and guide buyers through the final stages of a complex problem-solving or decision process. Whatever the channel, I can’t stress the importance of creating a Buyer-Oriented Selling System™ enough.” – Mike Kunkle, Founder, Transforming Sales Results, LLC.
“The only channel is the ‘customer’s channel,’ which requires complete flexibility to be the norm for every sales organization. Those who sell in only a few channels will find themselves at a disadvantage very quickly.” – Mark Hunter, Keynote Speaker and Author of High-Profit Selling and High-Profit Prospecting.
Experts agree that at the core of the services economy is the customer’s buying experience, and a central tenant to that is where and how the customer buys. A positive buying experience, on the customer’s preferred channel can drive customer loyalty and repeat business while a negative buying experience loses it. Which side of that experience do you want to be on?