"If you want to persuade, you must first connect."
This quote from Sonia Simone's excellent post entitled How to Create a Deep Connection with Prospects and Customers sums up a question we've been grappling with here at PeopleMetrics in recent months: how to help B2B companies differentiate on the prospect experience and close more sales.
The author states that as humans, our need to be seen, heard, and recognized is directly connected to the success (or failure) in the prospect and customer experience that companies deliver.
She writes,"If you intend to sell something—to ask for someone’s hard-earned money and irreplaceable time—you must begin by seeing (and honoring) who they are."
If your sales strategy has your reps jumping straight to "Be Mine" before building an emotional connection, the relationship will be over before it has begun.
When to Start Listening to Customer Feedback
Multitudes of companies have joined the customer experience transfomation bandwagon. They have Voice of the Customer software and solutions in place. They are measuring Net Promoter Scores (NPS scores) and Customer Satisfaction levels in real-time. They are seeing, hearing and recognizing customers every day through their feedback channels.
However, these efforts are focused exclusively on the latter half of the customer journey—after the customer has decided to buy.
Don't Skip the Courtship
This is baffling due to a commonly held definition of customer experience: "the sum of all experiences at various touchpoints a customer has with a supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship with that supplier. This can include awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy."
Think about that.
Four of the eight steps listed in this definition happen before your customer commits to you. 1) Awareness, 2) Discovery, 3) Attraction, and 4) Interaction.
Then why are so few B2B providers listening to, learning from, and acting on feedback from their prospective clients? Isn't sales performance management software a no-brainer?
Survey Says 'Yes'
Because we believe that your sales leads deserve some love too, last month we launched our first ever independent study into the B2B Prospective Client Experience.
While we are still analyzing the data we couldn't wait to share a few early findings that indicate that listening to prospects—as you do your clients—will lead to huge competitive advantage.
Here are four reasons why:
1. Buyers are investing a ton of time in getting to know you.
By the time a business-to-business buyer decides to contract with your organization, they have spent on average 86 hours in the sales and selection process.
And, the average amount of time spent increases as the size of the investment grows. Enterprise-sized purchases (500k+) suck up more than 3 weeks of work time.
And one-third of buyers say the length of the entire sales process took 3+ months (source: PeopleMetrics 2015 Voice of the Prospect Experience Study).
That is a lot of time and effort.
2. Most companies aren't asking for formal feedback from prospects.
7 in 10 companies never think to ask for formal feedback from their prospects during the sales cycle.
3. Prospects want to be asked.
81% of buyers in our study said they would take the time to give feedback if asked. After all, they are listening to you, your pitch, your story. They want to be heard too.
4. Asking increases the likelihood of winning.
Prospects feel more connected, more cared for, and more committed after receiving a request for feedback. As one of our survey respondents put it:
"Only one company asked for the feedback, which we were happy to provide. This is the company we ultimately chose. It seemed like no one else thought to take the time to ask for feedback; whether positive or negative."
If you aren't listening to prospects as part of the sales and purchasing process in order to build an emotional connection and increase your chances of closing a sale, what's stopping you?
Contact us to discuss how you can build prospective client feedback management into your CX improvement efforts, or download our eBook that outlines the key steps you should follow to improve your prospect experience and win more business.
Finally, you can also sign up here to be one of our first readers to receive a copy of our white paper on how to differentiate on the prospect experience coming out next month.