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5 Insights to Aligning Your Sales Approach to Your Customer

by Doug Davidoff | Jul 11, 2014 4:15:00 PM

b2b-sales-timeIf there’s one thing I’ve learned over 25 years of selling, it’s that customers buy on their time, not the seller’s time. Effective B2B sales strategies can influence the timing and remove much of the friction, but any attempt to fundamentally alter their timing backfires.

In today’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) world, sellers must learn patience and how to pace the process.  Selling organizations must adjust the approach to align their sales cycle to match the customer’s timing. 

Doing this successfully requires a change in the mindset of many salespeople from one focused on selling products or solutions, to one designed to guide the prospect through the buying process. It requires a shift from an “Always be closing,” mindset to an “Always be helping” mentality.

This shift in mindset requires more than words. It requires an adjustment in the typical approach taken to support the overall sales and marketing process. Here are five important components to succeed in this new world:

Position Yourself to Compete & Win in the ZMOT

I’ve written extensively about how to win the ZMOT. What’s important to note is that (often) long before you have the opportunity to get your sales cycle started your prospect has already decided what they’re going to do.  If you’re not there, you’ll lose the opportunity before it begins.

Build an Inside Sales Capability

Field sales positions are oftentimes not best suited to match the rhythm of many buying organizations.  While field sales still serve an integral role in the sales process, it is more effective when the role is complemented by an inside sales function serving in more of a support role.

Field sales positions are post expensive and highly limited in the amount of time available to support the sales process. Additionally, whenever a field sales person is directly involved in the process, there’s a natural pull to present recommendations, even if the timing isn’t right.

Put Content At The Center of Your Customer Development Strategy

One of the biggest reasons that sellers struggle to align with customer’s time is that they’ve not built their sales process to support a sustained process.  Most sellers are ready to conduct a needs assessment and maybe one more meeting. After that, the only thing they are prepared to do is recommend a purchase.

Content not only allows you to compete in the ZMOT, it’s also required to be able to effectively nurture opportunities and align your selling process to the customer’s decision process.

Create Sales Tools That Educate

One of the toughest lessons I teach salespeople is that customers don’t really care about you, your company or your products/solutions.  They care about their problems and the results they want.

So, when you sitting around the table talking about the brochures and collateral materials you want to create – stop. Save yourself the money. There’s no collateral as an ROI Calculator or Diagnostic Scorecard sitting on the top of your desired decision maker’s desk.

Change Your Tracking & Measurements

Most traditional sales metrics incentivize fast sales, even if that’s not in the interest of building a predictable, sustainable and scalable sales approach.  Teach your salespeople to think beyond the “how much business did I close this month” mindset.

Identify the important milestones that must be crossed to successfully complete a sale.  Teach your sales team the importance of each milestone, and track and measure those milestones.

For example, at Imagine we’ve identified five milestones that must be passed for a predictable sale to occur. Two of the milestones are more important than closed business, as they’re what cause business to be in a position to be closed. By tracking these milestones (and not just the end results) we’re able to more effectively align our approach.