Today’s post is by Kate Feather, EVP of Marketing and Business Development at PeopleMetrics, a feedback and consulting firm that helps organizations build client-centric cultures.
When you look at your sales metrics, do you ever feel like you’re looking in a rearview mirror rather than gazing into a crystal ball?
Many sales leaders we know can’t accurately predict the probability of their winning each opportunity, even when they use sophisticated sales-analytics tools. Because they can’t be in every meeting and conversation, they aren’t able to gauge buyer engagement. Instead they rely on past win rates, sales cycles, and activities to predict the future. But histories can’t reveal how engaged the buyer is right now, at each step of their journey with each seller’s company.
Lacking real-time buyer feedback, how can leaders know when to intervene, or when to tell their reps to move on? How can they know which team members need coaching, and in which specific areas?
Value: The One Metric You Are Missing
In our recent B2B buyer trend research at PeopleMetrics, we discovered that the quantity and quality of the prospect’s communication with you influences the purchase decision more than anything else. Ultimately, the perceived value of the time a buyer spends with your company drives the decision to purchase. Consider the following facts from our report.
- Half of B2B buyers told us that the vendor they ultimately rejected did not provide sufficient value.
- Three-and-a-half times more B2B buyers gave a perfect score (five on a five-point scale) on value to the team they ultimately chose.
- As buyers’ perceptions of value moved from good to excellent, the average size of the contract increased by nearly $100,000.
Measuring Value: Ask for Perceptions
In our industry, we help companies listen to their customers at key moments of truth and use this real-time feedback to close the loop. By listening to the voice of the customer, companies can strengthen relationships, find opportunities to coach employees, fix issues, and seek referrals.
However, few companies actively solicit buyer opinions or listen to buyer feedback during the sales process. Some companies say they don’t want to burden their buyers, or they don’t believe they’ll receive honest (or any) feedback. Others have simply never thought about it.
Our research and work with B2B organizations has revealed the following.
- Buyers welcome the invitation for feedback. If you think about it, your buyers invest a significant amount of time and resources getting to know you. By asking if talking with you was a valuable use of their time, you can show you recognize and appreciate that investment.
- One-in-three buyers give feedback, and the two-in-three who don’t are communicating as well. A non-response is as valuable as a response in helping you to revise forecasting.
- Buyers give varied feedback from top marks to mixed ratings and suggested improvements. Data analysis shows a strong correlation between buyer ratings and win rates. This validates that buyer feedback is honest and linked to the ultimate decision they make.
Using Buyer Feedback to Improve Performance
A closed-loop buyer feedback solution is more than measurement. What you do with that feedback can change buyer engagement, value perceptions, and win rates.If you measure value perceptions during the sales process, you can react to make that experience more memorable – and gain a competitive advantage.
Sales leaders can learn and act on what buyers say (or don’t say) in four important ways that are missing today.
- Course Correction: A buyer who didn’t perceive sufficient value (indicated by a rating of four or lower on a five-point scale) is not likely to buy from you. Sales leaders who receive this feedback within minutes can reach out quickly to address the situation. One client who is using our feedback solution closed $1.2 million in new revenue by leveraging 11 course-correct alerts. In rearview-mirror measurement world, that deal likely would have been lost.
- Targeted Coaching: Buyers will tell you why the rep didn’t get a perfect score. This feedback, along with ratings on five core competencies known to correlate with value, provides outside-in (buyer-centric) insights to focus your coaching and training efforts. Feedback specific to each rep and buyer can transform performance management from one-size-fits-all programs to custom-cut training.
- Perfect Scores (and Probability Improvement): By adding buyer value perceptions to your measurement, you can improve the accuracy of your forecasting. Buyers who give perfect value scores, and who recognize special and unexpected efforts, are more likely to buy from your company (barring any internal changes in strategy, direction, or budget). Over time, you can look at the correlation between your perfect scores and win rates to adapt your forecasting accordingly.
- Non-Response (Touch Base and Move on): Our research has shown that the two-in-three customers who do not respond to the survey are significantly less likely to buy from you than those who share their opinions. A non-response still offers insight into the buyer’s perception. It communicates that the opportunity may be dying on the vine. In the situation of a non-response, you may wish to touch base with the buyer.Failing a second response, you can know it is time to move on. You’ve gotten to “no” quicker and can turn your attention to the opportunities that deserve your energy.
What Are You Doing to Improve Value?
At PeopleMetrics, we believe buyer feedback is a key element of improving the buyer’s journey. It presents the crystal-ball opportunity that many sales teams need to take real strides in adding value for their buyers. Our LeadMetrics solution helps sales leaders use feedback from buyers to predict sales and train their teams. To learn more, you can watch the video below, or visit our website.