How a Revenue Aligned Organization Embraces Today’s Complete Buyer Journey

November 14, 2019

Buyer's Journey

Editor’s Note: This guest post was contributed by John Moore, Vice President, Bigtincan.

In my last article, I noted that Revenue Alignment places the customer at the center of business success. Revenue Alignment places a premium on creating measurable outcomes, delivering solutions that customers will adopt, and on a high degree of collaboration between customer-facing teams.

In this article, we'll describe how a Revenue Aligned organization operates to achieve results in today’s world-class organizations.

The Buyer Journey in the Revenue Aligned Organization

Let’s start with the buyer journey, as defined by Hubspot. We will add more granularity to it, but it is an excellent starting point.

Here are the steps and a brief description of each.

  • Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
  • Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.
  • Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution.

Let's tweak this a bit for the sake of this article.

  • Awareness Stage: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
  • Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.
  • Decision Stage: The buyer chooses a solution.
  • Procurement Stage: The buyers are in the process of buying your solution.
  • Onboarding Stage: The buyer begins to use your solution.
  • Adoption Stage: The buyer is working on getting internal staff to adopt the new solution
  • Lifetime Usage Stage: The buyer is satisfied, and the pain of switching is not worth it or not desired.

Let's now explore how Revenue Aligned organizations work through the stages of the buyer journey to positively impact the buyer.

"It's management's responsibility to explain to employees how they impact revenue enablement. When employees are in tune with their role in supporting a part of the customer's journey, they can feel empowered and motivated to deliver a great experience to the customer, whether it's on a factory tour or a tech support call for a SaaS product. Customers are impacted greatly by front line employees, and it's imperative they understand how impactful their daily performance is on revenue enablement." — Bernie Borges, CMO, Vengreso

Awareness Stage  

In the awareness stage, buyers have become aware of a business pain point, or a pain point has reached a critical threshold, and they realize they need to solve the problem.

Your business should already have a clear definition as to the individual use cases (not products) that it supports. Each of these use cases should have clearly defined Average Contract Values (ACVs), win rates, Customer Lifetime Values (CLVs), churn rates, and so forth. Each of these use cases should have clearly defined buyer personas and history of win/losses to help guide sales and customer care as to the practical approaches for selling as part of an initial deal, as an upsell or cross opportunity.

In the awareness stage, Finance, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Care should work as one to determine which use cases will resonate more broadly to specific personas, in certain industries, and in particular geographies. These department will also work to identify which use cases should be advertised, which use cases should be supported via content marketing and evangelist speaking engagements, and so on.

By aligning fully across these functions, you can maximize your awareness efforts against use cases, not products, and make these prospects-to-be aware that you are a business well-positioned to help them.

Consideration Stage

At this time, the buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.

In the Consideration stage, Finance, Marketing, Sales, and Customer Care bring Product into the conversation to ensure that the product works, out of the box, for the exactly specified scenarios. Use cases are too high-level for the Consideration stage, and you must have clarity as to the problems you can, and cannot, solve.

  • Be honest. If you cannot adequately meet the customer's needs, be clear and upfront about that fact.
  • Be transparent. If you could solve the customer's full need in time, be clear about what is required, how long it would take, and how much it would cost.

I've seen too many businesses chase money, sacrificing long term strategic plans to achieve quarterly targets. Don't go here.

Decision Stage

The buyer (and often a buying committee) has vetted the potential solutions to their defined problem. RFPs have been responded to, demos have been given, and pricing has been somewhat clarified.

Tip: If procurement is not yet a member of the buying committee, work to get them involved and into the group. It will save you many headaches later.

The Revenue Enablement team has supported the teams, including the buyer themselves, by delivering use-case based information that responds to the buyers' needs. The content helps each member of the buying group with information that is relevant to that person's needs.

Marketing continues to deliver targeted messaging to the buying group through standard channels such as email and targeted ads. This messaging is an output of the work being done by the Enablement team.

Sales continue to work as a trusted advisor across the buying group, hand-delivering these value-based messages to each member of the group. This information and content also flow from the Enablement team.

If this is an upsell or cross-sell to an existing customer, your Customer Care team will continue to reinforce the additional needs, how your organization solves it, and help create internal advocates around the buying group to support your efforts.

Procurement Stage

Congratulations, you've won the deal! 

If the procurement team has been involved as part of the buying committee, this stage should go smoothly. However, when procurement has not been involved, this is often where the hard work truly begins.

Why?

Procurement often has to be sold to all over again. The Procurement organization will want to understand the business problems being solved, the value of solving the problem, and the ROI of going with your solution. Your pricing will rarely be accepted, and rounds of negotiations over legal documents and pricing can be ahead.

How do you streamline this process?

Every bit of information gathered through the buyer journey should be collected in an easy to consume format. You will want to be as proactive as procurement will allow in sitting down and walking them through the entire process.

Make Procurement’s life easy. Prepare a simple document that clearly defines:

  • The Business Problem you are solving.
  • The current cost to the business of not solving this problem
  • Expected ROI. Include the anticipated deployment time and any phased rollout plans
  • In one or two short paragraphs, describe how the solution will be used to solve the business problem.
  • A list of two or three customers who have used your product to solve the same, or similar problem
  • Contact list for key decision-makers at their company.
  • Contact list for key members of your team

By proactively sharing this information with Procurement, you demonstrate a level of business maturity that many other companies lack.

Onboarding stage, adoption, and lifetime usage stages

Once the prospect becomes a customer, many companies seem to forget everything they previously knew about the customer. That information may drop into a black hole, leaving the customer, and the Customer Success team, on a path to frustration.

Sometimes, the customer team involved in the onboarding may be a different group than you originally sold too. When this happens, the level of frustration is amplified as poor hand-offs are often a problem on the customer side as well.

If you created the Procurement document (discussed above), it should be handed off to the Customer Success team. If you did not create it, create one and hand it off. The Revenue Enablement needs to ensure this standard document is created and partner with Revenue Ops, Sales, and Customer Success teams to support this process, the document creation, and the training of the teams to ensure it occurs.

The onboarding program must be well organized into a standard project plan. The team will need excellent project and change management skills as the onboarding program is not merely about deploying new software; it is:

  • Enabling business leaders with the tool to support the roll-out internally.
  • Helping your customer's organization see early wins, gain a clear understanding of how this impacts their jobs, and demonstrating your ability to achieve the ROI you stated.

These same skills and approaches are required through the lifetime of the customer with your products. The Customer Success teams must partner across Sales, Marketing, Finance, Product, and Revenue Enablement and Ops teams to:

  • Ensure ROI is achieved
  • Clarify any misunderstandings in the initial contracts and paperwork
  • Champion conversations with Finance, Customer Support, and Product teams whenever there are potential issues with billing, bugs, or feature requests respectively
  • Listen for opportunities to cross-sell new products or upsell existing license counts

This is where the Revenue Enablement team again plays a vital role. During onboarding, the Enablement team is responsible for:

  • Create, curate, and maintain the documents the Customer Success team needs as well as the content flowing in from the other groups (such as the procurement document).
  • Providing ongoing training similar to what is being provided to sales. Customer Success must understand how to ask discovery questions, know what to listen for to identify cross-sell opportunities, and educated enough about their products, and solutions from their partners, to know when to raise the flag about new opportunities.

Walter Pollard, President and Founder of BrandFuzion, weighed in with his thoughts on the power of Sales Enablement

I believe the sales enablement role is vital in developing strategies and initiatives when it comes to upselling and cross-selling customers. Your sales enablement strategy and framework should align to a customer journey and existing client sales process, effectively enabling your account and customer service reps to upsell and cross-sell. 

This strategy should include unifying your marketing, sales and services divisions to effectively communicate and provide ongoing value to the customer. With the right strategy you’re not talking over each other but providing a unified vision to have valuable conversations, content, messaging and insights that aligns with ongoing customer needs.

To create more profound value for customers, to increase the effectiveness of their revenue teams by identifying new opportunities for revenue as well as cost savings, sales organizations must be prepared for the entire buyer's journey. 

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