Visibility: Seeing Around Corners


Lily recently went to buy a new mobile phone.

When the sales person offered to help her, not only did he know what kind she was looking for, he also could talk to her about most of the mobile phone's feature as if it was custom-made for her. The rapport with the rep struck a chord with her and she decided to buy the phone right away.

Not just that, she went ahead to recommend the store to her friends (on Facebook, too).

A buyer like Lily is ideal, Someone who is happy with the service and goes on to recommend the store to others. But to get a result like this retailers have to impress leads by being prepared.  

The internet highly influences a buyer’s decisions today.  Some influential factors are—

74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions—what does that tell you about it’s importance? As people are most likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals (almost 71% of them), you can imagine the effect it has on buying decisions.

Customer review websites
Websites like amazon.com and epinions.com are second best to social media websites. When looking for information, people prefer independent sources like these.

Inquiring in person at retail outlets
Also, prospects are highly likely to enter a retail outlet and see a product demo or talk to a sales rep in person to learn first-hand how it works.

What does that mean for sales?
The exposure to instant and unlimited information means that buyers are self-reliant when it comes to deciding what they want. Though marketers still push their products through advertising and social promotions, the buyers are aware of the trappings of traditional advertising.

According to Forrester,  50 – 70% of the buying cycle is completed before customers ever engage with a sales person. In simple words, prospects make up their minds much before your sales rep come into the picture.

Also, the customer embarks on the buying cycle journey on their own through research, networking and knowledge sharing. That means that inadequacies during any of the stages of the buying cycle, WILL affect the customer’s decision-making process.

Does that mean we wait for the prospect to reach us?
Potentially. Prospects do not appreciate in your face advertising anymore.

BUT, that doesn't mean that you are a silent spectator till the prospects reach you. Big Data makes it possible to influence the buying decisions in every possible way, at every stage. Let’s see how…   

 Have a 360 degree overview of your leads
Are you tracking your leads across channels? Having an all rounded overview means that you have a system that captures prospect data and measures every interaction with your brand across different channels. You have to be able to measure how they are interacting with you on your website, social media or e-shopping websites. Not just their digital footprints, but also keep a track of which stores they are prone to buy from and how much hey usually spend.

Segment your leads
Thanks to the array of lead information you get, you can now segregate your leads in micro segments. Unlike broad segmentation based on gender and location, you can segment leads based on finer details like preferences, spending habits, frequently visited places, etc. This way you can blend into the very essence of your leads’ lifestyle without making it look like forced selling.

The point in question is can you affect the decisions your prospects make without involving you?
The answer is yes.

If you can put your big data to good use (here’s an example), you will be in a position to guide your prospects at every stage. 

How you can affect the prospects’ buying decisions--

1.       Educate your prospects: Educating your prospects about your products and its uses is more effective than you think. Educating them means that you are able to share and demonstrate your expertise on the subject, which increases the value of your brand. This is also a highly effective way to develop and foster relationships with them.

2.       Personalize your communication: Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10% (Aberdeen Group). Segmenting your prospects into different stages of the cycle will you a fair idea of what they need to know at that stage. Combine this information with your experienced sales teams and create personalized campaigns for each customer segment. Considering the Gmail promotions tab that has become friendlier, you can get more visual with your communication.

3.       Offers real time discounts and offers: Many retail companies are mining the Big Data treasure trove to attract prospects with real time offers and discounts. Loyalty coupons, promotional offers/ sale based on big data are some of the proven ways of attracting your customers to you. For instance, on a particular rainy day, your favorite coffee shop sends you a one-on-one free cappuccino coupon. Brands that are quick to make hay while the sun shines, are the ones that benefit from the weather ;)

4.       Respond quickly: Research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. (InsideSales.com). When your leads interact with you, you have to be able to engage your ready prospects immediately once they show an interest in you respond to them at the earliest. Your earnest and enthusiastic response means a lot to your prospects and they are sure to remember this in the long run.

5.       Nurture them: let your sales reps decide which leads are most in need of nurturing. Once you have determined this, nurture these leads using informational content that appeal to their requirements. Design your content such that they appear to be the answers to your prospect’s queries. This is the best way to grasp their attention. This also reinforces your expertise in your field.

6.       Prepare the sales force: The moment when your sales guys enter the picture is important. Your sales rep’s interaction with them has a huge influence on their purchase. You can prepare your sales reps for this rendezvous by giving them the tools and lead information that enable them. Sales enablement tools can enable sales reps by giving them a real time overview of prospect activity and all the necessary collateral to engage them at the right time. Also, Sales playbooks are amazing tools that your sales reps will highly benefit from.

Conclusion:
If you want to be ahead of your prospect in the buying cycle, you've got to see everything that your prospects will see in order to make that big decision.

If you want to secure your prospects in a 360-degree perspective, you've got to start making that big data work for you. Filter the important data and devise sales-friendly strategies that enable your sales team to outperform themselves.

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