Our AMA (Ask Me Anything) series sees us put top sales enablement professionals on the spot to ask questions posed by YOU.
iQuipt's Brett Trainor recently discussed the synergies and differences between sales and buyer enablement, as well as how they can and should be aligned...
Q. What do you define as ‘buyer enablement’?
A. Most organizations have an inside-out approach, meaning they focus on the internal processes to support their current functions (sales enablement). Buyer-enablement starts with the buyer preferences on how they want to engage before and during the sales process. Most internal processes will not align with those buyer preferences. I also find most internal incentives and metrics are tied to operating budgets vs. alignment between functions. An example would be marketing is measured on MQLs and sales is measured on revenue. The prospect doesn't care about either.
Q. How have you found decision-maker behaviors have shifted since the onset of the pandemic, particularly for B2B?
A. I believe the biggest shift is the realization from B2B buyers that they are much less reliant on face-to-face meetings to make purchases. This was already shifting but the pandemic forced remote communication and purchasing. We have seen recent survey data from McKinsey on B2B decision-maker expectations.
My two biggest takeaways from the data:
👉 99% of B2B buyers claim they will make a purchase in an end-to-end digital self-serve model, with the vast majority very comfortable spending $50K or more online
👉 Over 90% of B2B decision-makers expect the remote and digital model to stick around for the long run.
This means buyers want self service capabilities and most legacy B2B organizations are not structured that way.
Q. What are your top tips for enabling sellers to make buying easier?
A. I have found that top sellers focus on three things:
- Being a facilitator - helping the prospect get through the buying process as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- Being an SME - they know the industry and their customer problems as well as their prospects do.
- Being a problem solver.
I have found this to be consistent across all types of sales teams.
Q. What kinds of challenges (and opportunities) do you think sales enablement will face over the next 12 months and beyond?
A. I think the biggest change will be the customer expectation of a seamless experience. In many B2B organizations, the handoffs between SDR>Sales>Onboarding>Customer Success are not smooth and many times buyers feel like they are working with four different companies.
I believe sales enablement will be tasked with streamlining that process. That is the opportunity. The challenge with that is many times sales enablement sits in sales and it is much more difficult to coordinate across functions.
Q. Would you say it’s SE’s job to enable the seller to enable the buyer?
A. The priority is to determine how your buyers/prospects want to engage then giving the tools and resources to the account executives to help them facilitate that process. It will probably look very different than it does today, or at least pre-pandemic.
Q. What type of content do buyers tend to prefer, versus what sellers prefer?
A. I think buyers are looking for content that educates and informs not only on your product/solution but also how other buyers are using it. They want to feel comfortable that your solution will solve their problem.
On the flip side, I believe sales will not only need the same content but also become more educated on the verticals/industries they are selling into. Plus they need to understand how the competition is also selling. If a buyer reaches out, they will expect expertise.
Q. What are the top reasons buyers stop buying? What are the best ways of pre-empting these factors and preventing the drop-offs?
A. One of the emerging top reasons for not buying is organizations make it too difficult to buy from. This would seem obvious but, if you are making your buyers call a sales rep or an SDR for ANY information that should be available digitally, you are creating a barrier. Also, timely responses or overly aggressive sales tactics. Those just won't work any longer. You have to be ready for the prospect on their timeline.
Q. Should you have a greater focus on sales or customer retention?
A. I believe you have to solve customer retention as early as possible. Of course, you need sales but it is much easier and less expensive to retain customers than it is to find new ones. If you are a start-up, one of the key metrics investors will be looking at is your retention rate. Net new customers are hard and expensive so it makes sense to take care of and leverage your current customer base.
Q. How do you use technology to drive human-centric experiences?
A. I am a big believer in the human-centric experience at all companies. I think they just need to be leveraged where they can add the most value. That is why buyer enablement can become the road map on where to best insert human contact. I think organizations create inefficiencies when reps or customer service agents have to provide information that should be readily accessible online.
Q. Who needs to understand the difference between buyer vs seller centric selling? Buyers and/or sellers? How does it change their motivations?
A. I think the biggest shift needs to come from the sellers. In my experience, buyers don't care about MQLs, opportunities or pipeline. They just want a frictionless process to buy your product when they are ready. I don't believe this is a sales shift but more of an organizational shift and approach.