This Week’s Big Deal: 3 Keys to Steering Clear of Buyer Churn
November 18, 2019
Sellers are at a disconnect with buyers, according to new global research from Accenture Interactive. The company’s report, Service is the New Sales, finds an “unprecedented seller-shifting trend,” with 44% of B2B buyers saying they’ve changed vendors in the past 12 months.
This escalating attrition is obviously unsettling. But opportunistic sales managers should have no trouble seeing the upside: Understanding why buyers switch sellers will position your reps to avoid this outcome, and to successfully engage customers who are leaving your competition.
Today, we’ll look at the dynamics behind this trend, and explore some ways your team can stay in front of it.
Aligning with Transformed B2B Buyer Expectations
One-third of all buyers say their customer experience expectations have increased in the last year, according to Accenture. Keeping pace with higher levels of scrutiny is not solely the domain of sales (marketing, customer success, and other touchpoints all need to play a role), but sellers are on the frontline, with the ability to make pivotal impacts.
Accenture’s findings suggest that a service-over-sales approach — committing to “an elevated service standard, hyper-focused on buyer needs, personal relationships, and intelligent interactions” — drives far better results:
(via Service is the New Sales)
The report presents three key recommendations for actualizing such an approach:
1. Leverage Technology to Unlock Data
There are some interesting developments taking place in the world of sales technology. At LinkedIn, we’re especially excited about a newly announced feature for Sales Navigator, which can improve the quality and accuracy of your CRM data in a major way. Data Validation automatically flags both exiting and entering buyer contacts at prospective accounts, among other valuable data points.
This is highly relevant, in light of Accenture’s data showing that service-minded sales leaders are “twice as likely [as laggards] to have centralized and regularly updated data sets that inform all service channels and conversations, personalizing offerings and improving engagement.”
(via Service is the New Sales)
In the same vein, the announcement last week of deeper integrations between Adobe and Microsoft, focused on driving personalized customer experiences, is definitely noteworthy.
2. Create a Digital-Human Dream Team
Viewing technology as a replacement for the human element of sales is a mistake. Instead, these tools and platforms should augment what salespeople bring to the table.
“B2B buyers still want and need to interact with smart salespeople to help navigate organizational challenges or complex purchases, and ensure quality service at every stage of the journey,” says the report. “A service-oriented organization will fortify their sales force with the digital tools, organizational support, and data-driven insights needed to serve their buyers at a higher level.”
Indispensable service is a surefire way to limit customer attrition. We’ve recently come across a couple of enlightening articles offering guidance for refining your sales approach and developing stronger personal connections with your customers and prospects:
- 7 Insider Secrets to B2B Sales Success, by Marc Wayshak: The veteran sales expert charts seven techniques that can help reps bring real value to sales engagements. Some of them, like “Don’t try to close,” may hit you as counterintuitive, but his results speak for themselves.
- The 6 Keys to a Highly Effective B2B Sales Approach, by Eric Sims: Investigate, inquire, tune in, educate, qualify, close. Great advice for moving away from straight pitching and toward a consultative, service-oriented mentality.
3. Rewire for a More Connected Organization
In Accenture’s survey, one out of five buyers pointed to “lack of integration between sales channels” as a reason for switching sellers. The friction created by misalignment is real, and it can be costly.
Tech integrations like the ones mentioned above can help bring unity and consistency to your organization’s sales efforts, but this initiative goes beyond tools. It’s critical to get people and departments aligned on the same objectives, messaging, and measures of success.
And, as the Accenture report notes, these initiatives need to start from the top: “Sixty-nine percent of laggard sellers identify ‘cultural resistance to change at the board level’ as their primary challenge, while leaders are over four times more likely to have complete senior stakeholder buy-in for digitally-enabled customer service efforts.”
Last week on our blog, Bigtincan VP John Moore contributed a great guest post on how Revenue Aligned organizations embrace today’s buyer journey, providing a useful framework for fostering holistic, customer-focused orchestration.
In Times of Change, Winners Adapt
The key to sustainable success is the ability to adapt to changing customer preferences and market conditions. Accenture’s Service is the New Sales reinforces what should be obvious: buyers want insightful, consistent, human experiences with sellers. And if they aren’t getting what they want, they’ll go elsewhere.
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