Meeting the Buyer Where They Are in the Buyer’s Journey
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Sales enablement is gaining momentum, and it shows no signs of slowing. That’s partly because accessing and consuming information about products has become so easy for customers to do on their own without needing to engage a sales rep. This changing dynamic has made sales enablement critical. Sales reps need to be able to add value to the buying experience that customers are self-guiding through, and sales enablement prepares them to do so.
In the past, much of the core information about a product or service was kept hidden from customers until sales would reveal it. That’s just not the case anymore in the digital age. And this is no secret – this year’s State of Sales Enablement report found that 51% think that in the past 12 to 18 months, buyers have begun conducting more research prior to engaging sales.
To be successful in sales today, sales reps must meet the customer where they are in the buyer’s journey and guide them forward in the process. This is where much of the need for sales enablement stems from – and it should remain a guiding focus for sales enablement practitioners.
With an increased need for sales enablement to help buyers get the right information at the right stage in their buying journey, here are three key areas for sales enablement practitioners to prioritize.
First and foremost, companies need to make sure that they are providing customers with access to the types of tools or resources that are useful for the stage of the buyer’s journey they are in. The fact is that in a digital world, it is easy to not only make things accessible, but also to test things to see what works and what doesn’t with customers and adjust accordingly.
For example, let’s say there is a calculator-type tool that a company uses internally to determine which product components would make the most sense for a buyer given specific criteria of what they are looking for. Rather than keeping that internal-facing, allow customers to use it to see how the product can create value for them.
While utilizing tools as a way of engaging customers, sales enablement can also collect data on how tools are used to better understand buyer needs and ensure they are meeting those needs.
2. Knowledge Base
Additionally, sales enablement should make sure they are providing their sales reps and anybody who is interacting with customers, for that matter, with the necessary knowledge to serve the customer’s needs. Sales enablement should make it seamless for them to connect customer pain points with the right materials or information to present a solution.
In part, this relies on having a solution or platform to store resources in a way that is easy for sales reps to find on the spot when they need it. On the other hand, it’s also requires training, education, and communication with sales reps to make sure they not only have the information they need for critical customer questions but also that they know where to find that information.
Spend time with reps to understand what reps are using and measure that against their performance to see if the knowledge they have on-hand is sufficient for driving business. Similarly, try listening to call recordings to learn what questions are being asked and what customer pain points are recurring to ensure that sales reps have the resources to add value to those conversations.
To truly meet the buyer where they are, the knowledge base is something companies should constantly be iterating on. Be comfortable with changing solutions, information, or materials if they are no longer working or resonating with customers. Sales enablement should track how often resources are used and by whom – and if things are not being used, dig in to determine if it’s a training issue or a system issue.
When creating content, the buyer’s journey should always be top of mind. Specifically, it should move the buyer through the stages of awareness, consideration, and decision.
There is content that is more appropriate in some stages than in others. For example, something like a blog post is useful on an educational level and is something a prospective buyer would likely access on their own. Thus, it would be considered a piece of awareness content because its purpose is to attract people based on a pain they are experiencing.
As a buyer moves to the consideration stage of their journey, they know they have pain and now they have to figure out if they want to do anything about it. The option is always still no. Content presented to them in this stage needs to show them that there is a better way, that their pain isn’t necessary. The content needs to continue to educate them not just on the product or solution, but on what happens if they don’t do anything.
The decision stage can be split into two different areas: intent and actual decision. Intent means the buyer knows they have a problem and they recognize they need a solution to fix it. Now, they need to select which solution they trust the most. In software, lines can blur between products and their offerings. Content for the decision stage needs to make the value of the specific product evident, especially in comparison to competitors with similar solutions.
Work with marketing and sales to take inventory of content and figure out if any stages are lacking effective content.
Everyone moves through the buyer journey at a different pace and with a different level of understanding. For example, if a buyer has previously purchased software and is looking for a replacement solution, their needs and the information they require at the beginning of their journey will be far more advanced than someone purchasing a solution for the first time.
It’s sales enablement’s job to stay on top of buyer needs and consistently make sure the tools, knowledge base, and content are effective in meeting those needs. With a deep understanding of what buyers need at each stage of their journey, sales reps can provide real value to the buyer that goes beyond what they would be able to learn on their own. Ultimately, this approach will attract more buyers, keep them engaged, and convince them to choose your solution.