What do you call customer service before a Buyer becomes a Customer?

The Buyer’s Journey is a hot topic among marketers, especially with the rise of inbound marketing. It’s the idea that taking care of your buyer along their journey leads not just to happier customers at the end, but to more of them.

This is frequently where content marketing comes into play, and a conversion at the end of the Buyer’s Journey is the focus of most content marketing campaigns. Marketing tries to make your buyer happier as they travel down your pipeline. But what about sales? Does the sales department care as much as marketing does about the idea of the Buyer’s Journey?

Surprisingly, most sales departments ignore the buyer’s journey. The idea of incorporating the Buyer’s Journey into sales shouldn’t be as revolutionary of a concept as it often is, especially not for larger businesses. There is a ton of advice on how to improve customer service, which is often a key focus for businesses as they grow.

Executives know customer service is exactly that, a service, and it is treated accordingly, given the resources it requires. Being excellent at providing customer service is a valuable competitive differentiator that many companies spend a considerable portion of their budget on.

But the Buyer’s Journey isn’t necessarily given the same treatment, particularly not from sales teams. Salespeople generally care more about making the sale than about the Buyer’s experience moving through the pipeline.

Many blogs, studies, and other information about customer service centers on the fact that providing quality service is not just a good idea, but the norm. But the discussions around the Buyer’s Journey still focuses on trying to convince sales departments that it’s even a good idea. Your sales department may be leery of the shift of control—from a traditional sales cycle that is familiar to one focused entirely around how the Buyer perceives the process.

So why isn’t it more common to treat potential customers (aka, Buyers) with the same level of service that we treat customers? 

The biggest reason is probably that the Buyers haven’t spent money with your company yet. That is, unless they are repeat Buyers. This assumes you treat your repeat Buyers differently than new Buyers. Do you?

Why invest the same level of effort into leads or prospects that haven’t spent anything with your company, and may never spend anything at all? You can’t be sure they’re worth the level of service you provide your paying customers…right?

Wrong.

Even something as simple as making a buying decision—even a “no” decision—easier for your prospective Buyers has a direct impact on how many sales your team can make. In fact, focusing on this single goal with Buyers can double the number of sales your team closes each month, without increasing your marketing budget.

Sounds too good to be true? It’s all about recasting sales as a service, about improving the Buyer’s Journey.

Facilitating your Buyer to make a decision, any decision, is one way to improve their journey through your pipeline—even if they leave it without buying anything from you. This is how you leave them feeling good about your company and get more referrals. They may even surprise you by opting to give their business to you instead of a competitor, simply because they trust that you have their interests in mind, and that makes you different than the “other” salespeople.

Small investments in improving the experience Buyers have as they move through your pipeline leads to big results. It requires a shift in the way your salespeople present the product or service being offered. Rather than leading with details, they need to lead with the value the Buyer will find in what’s being offered to them.

Tthe details of what you offer are important, but since the prospect is talking to you, he or she already knows what you do. Today, up to 57% of a purchase decision is made before a prospect ever calls a supplier. Rather than waste precious time sharing information your Buyers already know, spend it on better understanding what they really want to get out of engaging with you.

Not sure what I mean? It’s a subtle difference. To test out how well your prospects respond to this shift in how value is presented, try the following sentence with your own product or service, and see how they react:

“I’m guessing what you want is to make an informed decision on [best vendor, service, software, etc.] to select for [their company] as quickly as possible, invest the minimum amount of time doing so, and be confident you’ll never regret the decision.”*

How did it go? What was their reaction? Naturally, you can adjust this to match your own services and conversational style, but simply shifting the focus of the conversation from you, your company,and its products and services, to what your Buyer values will set you apart from the vast majority of salespeople—including your key competitors.

*Adapted fromLean Selling: Slash Your Sales Cycle and Drive Profitable, Predictable Revenue Growth by Giving Buyers What They Really Want,by Robert J. Pryor. Copyright © 2015 CEO Cubed.  Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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