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The customer has always been essential to any sales transaction. But it was clear in this year's Sales Summit at Dreamforce that the buyer's world has changed radically and they need you now, more than ever. Whether you look at the increasing number of people involved in the B2B buying cycle or the fact that the amount of information available to buyers is overwhelming, it's clear that it's become even more important than ever before that you be there for your customers, in more ways. 

Create A Positive Customer Experience

Customers are smarter and more powerful than ever before. They decide when and how they want to interact with brands. This change has even influenced how we measure sales success, with customer experience and customer success rising to the top as sales key performance indicators (KPIs). As Tiffani Bova, Salesforce, said in her session, "customers are getting the exact experience that you intentionally or unintentionally designed for them."

“Your brand is the sum of all the touch points you have with your customer.” - Tiffani Bova

 

Make Customer Obsession a Part of Your Culture

You've probably heard considerable talk about how we need to be customer obsessed. Walter Rogers, CCI Global Holdings, talked about how customer obsession needs to be built into the organizational culture. You need fortitude and stamina to successfully make changes. Organizational change doesn't happen easily, but as long as there's clarity of purpose and vision from the highest levels you can push through. Rogers said, "you need to pick the one spot where each of your companies needs to pay the most attention to get the maximum amount of leverage. Start there, then layer on top of it."  Watch the session: Customer Obsession: A Culture, Not a Catchphrase with Walter Rogers. Learn more: 7 Steps to Building a Customer-Obsessed Culture in Your Sales Organization

Help Customers Buy

The fact that customers have more information doesn't make it easier for them to buy. In fact, Brent Adamson, CEB, shared that one of the penalties of living in a "world of more" (having more information, more options, and more people involved in the buying process) is time. It's taking customers up to 2x longer to make buying decisions and the buying process is "landmine-ish." Not surprising with CEB finding an average of 6.8 people are involved in any B2B buying decision. Adamson makes the case that sales needs to help the buyer with their buying process, not just where it relates directly to your product. He recommends taking a prescriptive approach, which he defines as "a credible and influential set of 'do this'/'don't do that' recommendations, provided to customers across the purchase process, deliberately intended to ease the customer's movement toward the purchase." Watch the session: The End of Customer Empowerment with Brent Adamson. Learn more: Why Changing Behavior Is Your Biggest Sales Challenge

Customers Have More To Lose Than You Do

The impact of a bad purchase is far more significant to the buyer than a lost sale is to a seller, according to Matt Close, Altify. Buyers feel sellers aren't providing enough knowledge and insights. Close notes that because of this, "over 60% of the meetings happening now, from a buyer's perspective, do not proceed to another meeting." Help your customers make the best decisions for their business. Get in the trenches with them and work towards a win-win outcome. Watch the session: Keeping Customers at the Center: Why Win-Win Is the Only Way with Matt Close.  Learn more: Why Honesty in Sales Wins More Deals with Mixpanel’s Stephen Morse

Selling is Not About You

You finally get time with a customer and what's the first thing you do? Focus on yourself, your company, or your products. Being authentically and wildly curious about your customer and their customers opens many more possibilities for engaging with and potentially solving problems that would otherwise be missed. Sharing what you learn with your customer changes the conversation and puts you on the path to co-creating with your customer. As Ashley Welch of Somersault Innovation, says, "Start with them, not you." Will Anastas, Salesforce, shared "Salesforce has been around 16 years and now we do a lot of multi-million dollar deals. It may feel as if you're slowing down the discover process but in fact you're accelerating the revenue process and that's really what we've seen by using this approach." Watch the session: It’s Not About YOU! How Salesforce Increased Pipeline 100% with Will Anastas, Ashley WelchLearn more: Why Salesforce Uses Design Thinking in our Sales Discovery