For years, sellers have been the vanguards in a B2B sales cycle. But over the past few years, this trend has stalled, and we see more buyer control in the sales cycle. Why, and how much of a change is it? Is this leading to more complexity in the B2B sales cycle? How radical are the modern buyer expectations?
We go to great lengths to define the sales process and put checks and balances in the CRM to ensure sellers are executing it. But how much does it align with the buying process? Unfortunately, most of what we do today is about diagnosing execution issues by getting reps to do data entry. But we do very little to help the seller manage the sales process with the buyer. How to do this?
These new challenges call for reorienting the sales playbook to cater to modern buyer preferences. But how do operationalize this? Below is a simple but effective framework for implementing a sales playbook.
1. Create a buyer-aligned sales process
Interview recent customers to understand their buying process
Map the sales process with the buyers’ buying process
Use mutual success plans to enable sellers to discover buying process for each opportunity and map it to internal sales process reporting.
2. Design methodology for a great sales process execution
Irrespective of your chosen sales methodology, make sure the best practices are reinforced using mutual success plans and the gates in CRM
The proper use of sales methodology can help sellers deliver a differentiated buying experience; Enable your sellers to communicate value by using the sales methodology in actual customer conversations
For example, let’s say you are using value selling methodology; the right reinforcement of pain-gain-value and helping buyers visualize the path to get there is essential to building confidence
Mutual success plans can help you reinforce the sales methodology in the moment of truth - i.e. when reps are running a particular action during the deal cycle.
Have a cross-functional team of sales, marketing, and customer success to do the audit
Organize assets/info based on persona+stage (for both buyer and seller)
Identify gaps and create new content accordingly
4. Define sales playbook
Marry the content with execution & process. Make sure you identify buyer actions and map them to the sales playbook
Translate the sales playbook from an internal training/checklist into a mutual success plan to help guide sales execution in ongoing or future deals
Ensure all content is mapped to the appropriate stage and buyer actions
5. Iterate using real-time data
Look at seller+buyer engagement on mutual success plans to understand what/how to continue updating the playbook
Bring in a cross-functional team from marketing, sales, and customer success to study data and recommend changes to the sales playbook. Have the owner of the sales playbook execution (typically, it is sales enablement) make changes per the recommendation
While you or your teams have won customers by taking control of the sales process for years, modern buyers, especially those involved in enterprise deals, expect clarity, transparency, and predictable value.
How well you make the sales playbook relatable to the buyer can be a difference-maker when it comes to seller adoption and winning deals.
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