If you haven’t heard it yet, we are living in an age where prospects may know more about your products and solutions than you do. This is a natural progression, thanks to the internet of things. Some doomsayers are predicting that this will be the end of sales people and teams. Not at all. But no doubt, sales people need to make a shift in their thinking, to truly put themselves in the minds and seats of their prospects. To convince prospects that their product is better than the competition by understanding the process the prospect goes through when buying and giving the right cues at the right times. It is these sales people and companies that drive this thinking that will own tomorrow and a buyer’s pipeline may be the answer.
This is not the first article on this topic, not by a long stretch. But what few authors on this topic do is offer is solid advice on how sales people, teams and businesses can make this shift quickly. And that is not a criticism, it’s a fact, because this challenge is more prevalent now than it ever has been before and there isn’t a hard and fast solution to the problem. One solution we have been testing for a while now is reversing the sales pipeline. And the effects are very interesting. To reverse the sales pipeline means that in fact you no longer have a sales pipeline, but in fact a buyer’s pipeline.
To set up a buyer’s pipeline, you need to do exactly what is entailed to make the shift into the age where your prospects know more than you… Putting yourself into the mind of the buyer and what they go through at the various stages of the sales cycle. To do this, you need to know your sales pipeline stages well, and then apply what you think the buyer is going through at that time. The benefits of this solution is that you change your entire mind-set towards sales by preempting what the buys wants and needs at each phase of the sales cycle. Consider the below examples of typical sales pipeline stages compared to what a buyer pipeline could be for the same stage:
|Lead||Open to the idea of change, but has not considered it|
|First engagement||Aware of the possible need to change, but wary of engaging further. Needs to do some research.|
|Proposal||Curious about what is going to be offered and how that stacks up against the competition|
Although a very hypothetical example, do you see the immediate change in min-set? Now consider the actions to be taken by the sales person engaging with the prospect at these stages, and how this could potentially change your entire engagement process:
|Open to the idea of change, but has not considered it||Introduce your concept to your prospect in a unique, compelling way, to get their buy in.|
|Aware of the possible need to change, but wary of engaging further. Needs to do some research||Pro-Actively provide your prospect about information on your solution, the competition and how your solution is best for them|
|Curious about what is going to be offered and how that stacks up against the competition||Anticipate the fact that your prospect may have proposals from all of your competitors. Focus on the value you bring to the table, and how you will be making their lives easier *|
Now you are thinking like your prospects and giving them the right cues, at the right times. This not only shows a sales person on top of their game, but it builds trust and rapport due to the way you engage with your prospect. You are quickly positioning yourself as a person who can become a trusted adviser and change their business for the good in a very short space of time. This is how modern sales people need to be operating and thinking. Truth be told though, this theory would mean nothing if you do not have the right tools to back it up and automate it. With this new way of conducting sales, having your sales people guided through the process is critical, so as not to miss or misunderstand a cue.
So what would the effects of all of this be? Less lost deals? Shorter sales cycles? Like all good questions to new challenges, it depends on many things, such as your current sales stages, and processes, the type of products and solutions you sell, etc. Perhaps the solution is not to entirely reverse the pipeline, but at least build the buyer’s actions into your sales pipeline, as a hybrid solution. Get in touch with us to see if a buyer’s pipeline would be something beneficial to your business.
* Buyers don’t care about who you are or what you have done. Think about what that actually means to them!