Minimizing the effort, or “lift,” for a prospect should be a priority for salespeople. The more streamlined their buying experience, the more enabled they are, the likelier they will buy. “The new era of selling is defined by buyer enablement, consultative selling, and lessening the lift for decision-makers as they research solutions and compare options,” writes Steve Kearns for LinkedIn. Shifts in buying, as well as the pandemic, have driven buyers to self-serve many aspects of the sales process. “In order to differentiate themselves and thrive in the new era, companies must reduce friction and support the ever-evolving buyer’s journey."
Minimal effort leads to greater satisfaction
In his article, Kearns shares four points that reps can focus on to improve buyers’ journeys. One of the first things a salesperson should consider is how they converse with prospects. Because the selling process itself has changed, Kearns believes it’s necessary for sales conversations to change, too. Reps must reconsider their conversation's purpose and objective. No longer are salespeople always tasked with educating the prospect; many have already done their own research and arrive at the table with knowledge.
Reps should now focus not on presenting in every case, but rather “having customized outcome-focused conversations.” Cutting out this unnecessary clutter on the buying journey eases the effort needed on the part of the prospect. “…too often the product-centric slides come far too quickly, and do little to help them find clarity in their search,” he explains.
Reduce effort with valuable (and accessible) content
Kearns also recommends sharing content with prospects that they can actually use. Unfortunately, salespeople are sending out information and not realizing (or caring) it’s useless to the prospect. Kearns reports findings from Forrester that found “66% of B2B buyers saying vendors provide too much material, and 57% saying much of the material is useless.” Think quality over quantity; shooting out useless whitepaper after whitepaper only increases the prospect’s effort to learn more about you and how you can help.
And, just as importantly, the content you have that is valuable must be easily accessible. “I might argue that the only thing worse than giving buyers content they can’t use is needlessly holding back content that they can use,” Kearns explains. Gating information is quickly becoming passe. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thoughtful about what content you release. It does mean easing the effort needed to find and access content you do want shared with prospects.
Self-service will be in demand
Another key focus point for easing prospects’ efforts is the availability of self-serve options. “The rise of self-service experiences, as a mirror to the proliferating trend in B2C commerce, has been a hot topic in the B2B world,” he writes. It’s becoming inevitable that a smooth buying journey must enable prospects to do have tools to serve themselves. But don’t panic; this doesn’t mean you are making yourself obsolete. “Offering self-service options doesn’t mean taking the salesperson out of the equation from start to finish,” Kearns assures. “It simply means enabling buyers to take matters into their own hands. Ungate assets that can help them.” This can include transparent pricing and cost comparisons, or a self-led demo. “Not only do buyers enjoy this kind of empowerment; more and more, they expect it,” he adds.
During the buying process, buyers are seeking paths that require as little effort as possible. They have a lot going on and don’t need to be held up by roadblocks on the path to purchase. It’s up to the salesperson to minimize their effort in a way that benefits you both. As Kearns explains, “Those vendors and salespeople who contribute to easing their burden and lessening their lift will be noticed, and appreciated.”