Most VPs of Sales tend to worry about things like increasing their average deal size, improving their win rates, and ramping up new sales team members as fast as possible to “full sales productivity”. They’re concerned with other things like the cost of the sale, the amount of sales opportunities that end up in no decision mode and the average sales cycle length.
Really smart VPs of Sales strive for the “frictionless” sales process. In fact they obsess over achieving that ideal sales state and are constantly tinkering and refining in an effort to achieve it. The irony is that in this era of the Buyer’s Journey and the customer being in control, you’d think more sales teams would care about how the buying experience is for their customers and constantly try to improve it.
Why are many sales teams so self-unaware when it comes to the experience that they are delivering to their customers during their buying journey? This requires an entirely different mind set than conducting a win loss analysis. It means that you have to be entirely selfless and place yourself in the buyer’s shoes. You have to genuinely care about their buying experience. It’s not about the revenue or profits or lifetime value the customer brings to the table, it’s about delivering a great customer experience and it starts with their experience with your sales team.
Have you ever asked your new customers what their experience was working with you during their buying journey? How did the experience that your sales team provided differ from the experience that your competitor’s sales team provided? How did the experience differ from that customer’s best in class sales experiences? We are all consumers and buyers of different products and services in our lives. From buying a new car to a new house to a dining experience at a new restaurant in town, we all have ample personal buying experiences to draw from.
Think about the things that you control as a sales organization and how you can make it “easy” to do business with you. Here are just a few examples:
- Pricing – Is your pricing simple to understand or do you need a proprietary algorithm to explain it? Is it transparent and consistent? Meaning that I should get the same price no matter when I ask for pricing or who from your company gives it to me. When a customer asks for pricing and your sales rep seems reluctant to provide it, then you’ve failed miserably at removing friction from the sales process and buying experience. Pricing can be a painless, simple discussion or you can set off warning bells in your customer’s head….it’s all up to you.
- Contract/Agreement/SLA – It’s 2016 and we’re mostly selling SaaS applications or hosted software solutions today. Does your Licensing Agreement reflect that or are you stuck in anachronistic onerous, complex and lengthy Contract mode? Think click through Agreement or SLA that doesn’t require legal expense or review. If you’re SLA isn’t a 2 page click through, then you’re introducing friction into the buying experience.
- Self Service Buying Experience – What parts of your customer’s buying experience can they control and evaluate by themselves without your involvement? The more that you can automate the entire buying experience, the better alignment that you’ll have with today’s buyers. Ease of use is always important and that starts with the sales interactions. How easy is it for the buyer to get what they want in order to make an informed buying decision? Can they try your product or service for free on their own when they want?
I was riffing on this frictionless sales process last week with a long time enterprise software sales colleague. We’re both huge fans of the sitcom Seinfeld and were referencing the episode where Susan (George’s fiancée) died when licking envelopes to send out their wedding invitations. It turns out that George went cheap and bought the envelopes that required licking instead of the self-adhesive envelopes, which were more expensive. Well, the envelopes Susan was licking and sending out wedding invitations had a toxic glue in the area that she was licking. One or two envelopes licked by Susan would have been harmless, just left a bad taste in her mouth. But licking 200 envelopes in one sitting proved to be fatal and killed Susan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Invitations).
My questions to you are: What “toxic glue” are you introducing into your customer’s buying experience? When will you remove all of them (i.e., the inertia) to prevent killing any more deals or customers like Susan in Seinfeld?