By Paul Allamby
Customer expectations of sales are changing and will likely be advanced by 2020.
As revealed in a HBR article: ‘One CSO at a high-tech organization told us, “Our customers are coming to the table armed to the teeth with a deep understanding of their problem and a well-scoped RFP for a solution. It’s turning many of our sales conversations into fulfillment conversations.”
We’ve operating in an environment where 84% of customers are now starting the buying process with a referral, and peer-to-peer recommendations are influencing more than 90% of all purchasing decisions.
Gaining an understanding of this new paradigm is essential; arriving at a set of potential solutions would be even better.
Helping buyers buy.
Understanding how customers operate today and will function in 2020 can provide a roadmap for success.
66% of buying committees will decide what options to consider based on word of mouth suggestions.
74% of buyers will share useful content with at least 15 colleagues during the buying process.
75% of the buying cycle will be complete before the buyer will engage with a salesperson and 81% of buyers prefer interaction with either tech or product experts later in the buying process.
Buyers are operating in a new conversation ecosystem with a constant stream of input from peers, colleagues, influencers and users.
In this situation it will be critical to understand the circles of influence around decision-makers – and the perspectives that each of them have. For instance, the CFO wants to understand cost savings, the COO wants to focus on ROI – and so on.
Understanding the buying journey, its touch-points, areas of alignment and misalignment with your organization will be a critical area of focus for companies who want to create customer engagement sooner in the buying process.
All of the data & survey responses that I’ve seen point to clients wanting informed collaboration – they expect you to have ‘done your homework’ & not just ‘playback’ what their issues are – but be ‘on point’ in understanding the business verticals that they operate in, the trends, economic cycles & understanding of user demands. They demand proactivity, transparency & adaptability
In my presentation at Future Forum I identified a 5-point forecast, in my first point I identified that customers would want one view of all data.
Having a complete view of customers is possible when companies evaluate and integrate data, recognizing the different points of contact that customers can engage with.
In my 2nd point, I said that they’d have an appetite for customer insights.
As companies begin to leverage big data and advanced analytics it will create increased demand for customer intelligence that can inform business decisions.
In my 3rd point, I said that they’d expect you to move from selling solutions to providing insights.
Customers will expect sales teams to anticipate their future needs and to offer insights that align to where they are headed. By 2020, you’ll need to engage subject matter experts, from across the enterprise to deliver the knowledge and insights required.
In my 4th point, I said that you shouldn’t be a stranger – customers will want service that is personalized and proactive.
Well-informed customers will want to do business with companies that know them and their business intimately, have a clear understanding of where it’s headed and can design an experience that meets their needs.
Finally, in my 5th point, I identified that clients would expect you to really get inside their customer’s heads.
Companies will place increased value on understanding their customer’s sentiment.
They’ll be interested in really understanding the feelings and attitudes that their customers hold about them, their products and services.