We work with customers every day who, on the surface, have the ingredients they need for success when it comes to selling: great products, a strong track record of success and a dedicated, experienced sales team. Yet, many of them are coming to us lately because the ingredients for success in the market are changing and they are losing sales. Sales goals are getting harder and harder to reach and they’re fighting to hold on to market share.
Today’s competition is fierce, agile new businesses are disrupting markets and uncertainty looms large. In this environment, it’s important to make sure your sales efforts are on point.
As we’ve helped companies unlock the power of their data science using artificial intelligence to protect and grow their businesses, some surprising truths about selling today have emerged. Here are three unexpected, ways many companies fall short and ultimately suffer lost sales.
1. “If You Ain’t First, You’re Last.” – Ricky Bobby, Talladega Nights
Translated for your business: the vendor that responds first, wins. When I recently was enlisted to do the photography for my brother’s wedding (moonlighting as a photographer is the creative outlet for my engineering brain), I set out to hire someone to help me make the project more manageable. I did some online research, narrowed it down to a couple of photographers, and sent out inquiries. The one who got the job was the one who responded first. He was not the cheapest, but during our discussion, he was knowledgeable, answered all my questions, provided me with different photography styles that he could capture and he was within my budget. The buying experience he provided was fast and frictionless, which made my decision a no-brainer.
And it’s that way for most businesses. Sales responsiveness is increasingly becoming the deciding factor of whether make or lose the sale. “I’ll get back to you in a few days” is no longer enough when a potential buyer wants a quote. If it takes you more than a few hours (or, in some cases, minutes) to find the right products, get competitive pricing, and provide a proposal, there’s a good chance your buyer has already moved on to someone else.
For automation, speed and more wins, many companies are scrapping their manual processes and turning to configure price quote (CPQ) tools.
2. You don’t really know your customer.
Personalization is a hot topic today but what does it truly mean for your business and more importantly, how do you ultimately deliver personalization to your buyers? According to Wikipedia, personalization consists of tailoring services or products to accommodate a specific individual. This translates to, how well do you know your customer? What are their likes and dislikes? What products do they typically purchase together? How much are they willing to pay for your products or services?
Understanding your customers enables you to have effective conversations with customers, but it’s an area where most sales teams fall short because they don’t have the time or the tools to do the research they need for true personalization. Teams that can leverage A.I. based CPQ tools that rely on algorithmic principles are better prepared to deliver the level of personalization that’s needed to win the business. These tools can deliver insights such as what types of products does each customer want, what additional cross sell options they can successfully sell and more importantly, how much a customer is willing to pay for each product. Sales teams that are armed with the information they need to offer exactly what the customer wants increase the chances that they will win the business, increase the size of the deal, and also increase customer retention and penetration
3. You aren’t delivering a transformational experience.
If you’ve been in business long, you’re likely familiar with what it means to provide good customer service and we’ve already discussed how important it is to accelerate your responsiveness. Now, different technologies are exponentially changing your ability to deliver an exceptional experience to customers and it’s time to start thinking about the newest ways to set your business apart.
One such consumer technology that was recently announced is Amazon’s first Washington area bookstore, where Amazon is looking to again transform how we engage with books. Remember, before digital print there were hardback books! What if you can leverage technology to change the way buyers engage with your products and services?
What if you can deliver immersive customer experience by using technologies such as augmented reality (AR) to enhance the buying process? With AR, you can transport your customers to your showroom and help them visualize, configure, and almost touch your products with life-like reality, all without ever leaving their desks. It may seem like something out of a movie, but AR is here and is only going to grow as businesses begin to think of their sales process in new ways and customers get comfortable with the technology.
What about you? What are other reasons you have lost a sale? Have you uncovered other truths about selling today that I didn’t mention? How have you addressed them? Reach out at @PROS, and I’ll update the post with additional insights (and a link crediting you).