Most sales professionals believe providing prospects with information helps them sell more.
After a conversation or a meeting, salespeople send a plethora of collateral for the buyer to read. They feel like they need to explain every last ounce of value to the prospect – inundating them with case studies, product reviews, technical reports and press reviews.
But the best sales professionals know that too much information can create confusion – and confused prospects don’t buy.
In this article, I’m going to look at a fascinating study that shows why too much information can be detrimental and explores what you should do instead.
If you’re on a mission to streamline your customer’s purchasing journey, you’re in the right place. Fascinating research from CEB (now Gartner) is outlined briefly in a great article published in The Harvard Business Review.
The research shows that while most B2B sellers think their customers are crystal clear about their needs, in reality the average customer is deeply uncertain and stressed.
The research describes providing customers with too much information as a responsive approach, and instead suggests giving clear recommendations in the form of a prescriptive approach.
CEB’s research paints an intriguing picture, reminding me that far too often customers eventually become confused, distracted and sometimes frustrated by the sheer number of options.
I’ve seen even the most seasoned sales pros overwhelming customers with information.
Information Can Be Negative
CEB’s research shows that while 86% of sales professionals believe that providing a range of options for customers is both important and helpful, in reality the exact opposite is true.
Meanwhile, a staggering 79% of sales pros agree that flexibility around customer needs and opinions is essential throughout the sales process, regardless of whether they personally agree with the decisions being made or not.
But the data is clear – a responsive sales approach often backfires, having the opposite effect. This ultimately:
- Decreases the likelihood of purchase ease.
- Increases that familiar sinking feeling that comes with purchase regret.
Image courtesy of https://www.gartner.com/en
Tapping into the Superpower That Is Prescription in Sales
On average, seven people are involved in the purchase of a B2B solution. And you can bet each stakeholder is coming to the table with a different perspective, prolonging any purchase decision.
Getting everyone on the same page has never been harder, hence the average customer’s tendency to proceed cautiously.
Buyers need guidance and a clear way forward – in other words, the prescriptive approach.
By using the prescriptive approach, salespeople provide buyers with one clear recommendation and action item that is backed by a specific rationale. This approach serves to make even the most complex aspects of the purchase sound like a piece of cake.
The Research Backs a Prescriptive Approach
CEB’s research shows that a proactive, prescriptive approach maximises sales results. Customers reported a purchase ease of +86%, while their post-purchase regret decreased.
The best salespeople have a knack for nailing the purchase process and the challenges involved when working with a segment of their customers. They have the skill to lead customers to the right buying decision without overwhelming them with information.
So, very briefly, what are the components involved in successful prescriptive sales?
#1: Journey mapping
Many sales teams begin with a supplier-oriented approach and fail to take into consideration the customer’s journey before they engage with the supplier. However, gathering customer information about the early stages of their journey can be instrumental in understanding and addressing specific concerns along the way.
#2: Identifying key barriers
This stage is often interlinked with the previous one; it’s all about understanding customer problems from their perspective, identifying common themes and providing clear solutions.
A common reason for customers stalling during the final stages is because they can’t decide between various options. Helping them to choose the right course of action will speed up the process.
#3: Prescription design
This stage highlights three requirements of a prescriptive approach. It must be: 1) unbiased and credible, 2) reduce indecision and compel action, and 3) facilitate progress along the purchase path. In other words, suppliers must show customers that they have a genuine solution to their problem (rather than just trying to sell a product) and can help them through every stage of the decision-making process.
#4: Ongoing monitoring
It’s essential to closely monitor customers throughout the process to ensure that everything remains on track and that any obstacles or potential delays are dealt with immediately. Key points along the journey, such as signing a contract, should be scheduled for specific dates to keep everything running smoothly.
Bottom line: Rather than focusing on why customers should buy from you, concentrate on understanding how they make purchase decisions and support their journey from beginning to end.
Want to learn more about maximising business using the power of prescription? Reach out to me on 0344 412 6699 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.