The importance of aligning the Buying Process with the activities and milestones of your sales process cannot be overstated. Merely measuring your sales funnel by the actions your salesperson has taken does not give you the entire picture or the best chance of winning the deal.
The Buying Process is the foundation for our sales process; it allows us to best align our sales, marketing and support efforts with the client's needs at that specific moment in time. While most sales processes focus on the activities performed by the salesperson (qualify, discovery, quote submitted, decision maker brought in, etc.), ours focuses on where the buyer is in their journey which allows us to be more accurate with our forecasting and be more sensitive to where the client is, the resources they need and their feelings towards us.
The B2B Buying Process Explained
Trigger Events An event, or series of events, which lead the prospect to explore options for changing the way they current conduct business.
Choices A small team is tasked to research ways to address the trigger(s). This stage focuses on the available solutions to the problem or opportunity, not necessarily the vendors.
Evaluation A larger team of stakeholders develops a list of requirements, define their processes, and evaluate multiple vendors to develop a shortlist.
Why Change With Us?
Selection The largest team of stakeholders and users is assembled for custom demos, to review references, finalize pricing, prepare report for executives and obtain approval to negotiate.
Negotiate A small team define the final expectations, pricing, terms, project plan, and sign the contract.
Implement A project team is established to manage the project and liaison with the vendor.
Experience The project team drives adoption, manage disruptions, measure and experience the benefits of the solution.
Connecting Your Sales Process to the Buying Process
What if we focused more on the client? What if instead of your sales process steps being defined by an activity your salesperson has taken, it was determined by an objective they accomplished for the client? Let's look at some typical steps in a sales process:
Do any of these steps really tell you about the client's needs or how they feel towards your product, service or company? In our sales process, we focus on the stages of the Buying Process and align our milestones with their goals like so:
Activate & Develop Triggers Here our goal is to help the prospect to identify with the common triggers associated with the need to change. They have most often self-identified a few reasons but the more drivers they can realize the easier it is for them to build a business case for change.
Educate Making a case for change requires proof, goals, and a vision of a better future. We want to paint the picture of where the client is now, where they want to be, and how our solution will help them get there.
Align The goal here is to determine fit for both parties. Do their needs and vision align with our solution? If so, we want to articulate that alignment to make the shortlist of preferred vendors.
Separate We all become frustrated when prospects reduce vendor comparison to price, but more often than not we have no one to blame for that than ourselves. In my experience, prospects are looking for ways to compare similar solutions; if we cannot help them by providing differentiating factors and why they are essential, they will often default to price as a final selection tool.
Win/Win It sounds cliché, but it’s true, negotiations must be focused on creating Win/Win scenarios. If either party walks away feeling as though they lost, it will hurt the relationship just as it’s beginning.
Deal Won Once the contract is approved, it’s time to deliver on our promises and the hand-off process to the implementation team is started.
Deal Lost This may be the only selfish step in our sales process, but by this point, we deserve a little selfishness, don’t we? Every lost deal needs to go through a de-brief process. We need to understand where we went wrong. We’re we chasing a “bad” deal? Did we fail to differentiate? Was there not a strong enough case for change? Understanding the shortcomings allows us to refine and improve our process constantly.