I never knew how far ahead of my time I was, especially when occasionally hearing “Your stuff has been out forever…it’s old news” until recent years. The idea of synchronizing with the customer journey has become the latest term for an enlightened approach to marketing and sales. Account-Based Marketing, and other “innovations” are the latest advancement in the thinking around customer-centric business practices.
Here’s the thing: almost 40 years ago, Bob Miller (as in Miller Heiman Group) began converting sales professionals to the maxim “You don’t know what you’re selling until you know what your customer is buying”. The skills and methodologies my company works with have been built around the customer’s buying process from the start. We’ve been doing it so long and so successfully that we’ve built tools for not just training, but converting entire sales organizations to tightly coordinated customer-centric cultures. We’ve grown to be the most successful in our industry by helping our clients, selling organizations, fully operationalize this customer-centric truth; training, sales operations, sales and sales leadership — and more – included.
For those four decades, we have been making a focus on the customer journey the very core of our practice. Here are eight key examples:
- The heart of Conceptual Selling® (foundational conversation methodology) has always been planning –then executing — every customer interaction to make sure that you understand the customer buying process, where the customer is in it, and what they are trying to fix, accomplish, and/or avoid.
- Strategic Selling® (the gold standard in complex opportunity management methodologies) frames a deal pursuit 100% in terms of the group buying decision that the sales professional needs to influence. Account-Based Marketing (ABM) utilizes technology to extend the identical approach earlier in the customer journey, and provides a powerful technology assist all through a pursuit.
- Sales Operations professionals will recognize the struggle of predicting which opportunities in the sales funnel/pipeline are likely to close. World-class sales organizations define their sales process steps in lockstep with customer buying process steps. This tightly integrates the customer journey right into the sales playbook.
- Front line sales managers are the key to any successful sales initiative. The best sales manager coaching is enlightened by the customer journey. Coaching to customer-centric methodologies, and using milestones in customer journey among coaching KPIs, separates world-class management cadence from ordinary sales manager deal reviews.
- Another best practice, an opportunity scorecard, includes actions that keep customer engaged in a buying process, and scores several key customer engagement behaviors to monitor “deal winnability”. These highly customized scoring systems are so effective at forcing salespeople to synch with the customer journey, they dramatically improve predictability of the sales process, and increase predictive accuracy of forecasts.
- Professional Selling Skills is our elementary skills program…it provides less tenured prefessionals with the fundamentals of a needs satisfaction approach.
- SPIN selling conversations is a more advanced skills program which helps refine selling professionals’ understanding of how their prospective customer views their problems, as well as their expected outcomes.
- Value discipline adds a third dimension to all seven of the tools above. It’s grounded in the principle that all value for what you are selling is customer perceived. Value for your offer only exists in the customer’s mind. Full-Value Selling helps sellers uncover customer-perceived value, seek unconventional value, and causes customers to monetize that value for themselves in order to more favorably view even a premium price. When it is integrated into the selling, marketing, and product organizational cultures, it informs better marketing and new products decisions as well.
This comprehensive portfolio of solutions – and more – are what a company who has focused on the customer journey for 40 years. I’m proud to be the old dog in the customer-journey area.
What best practices for aligning your selling with the customer journey to you like using? Comment below, or contact me directly.
To Your Success!