Improving the Sales Experience

Everyone is familiar with the phrase “customer experience.” But what about the experiences a customer has with a sale before signing on the dotted line?

We spoke with Barb Giamanco, author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media and one of the most recognized thought leaders in sales about what makes a good sales experience and how salespeople need to invest in themselves to find success.

What is the Sales Experience?

According to Giamanco, sales reps and sales managers don’t often think about the quality of the experience they have with buyers at the beginning of the sales process. “I’m a great believer that the customer experience starts at ZMOT, or zero moment of truth,” Giamanco said.

The first interaction a salesperson has with a buyer can be either positive or negative. At this point they’re not yet a customer, but that first interaction is what will move them to the next level. “If you do that, your competitors don’t stand a chance,” Giamanco said.

Why Salespeople Should Broaden Their Thinking

In this new age of technology and analytics, sales leaders can get tangled up in the details. There’s a tendency to default to measuring activity – KPI, number of emails, phone calls made, etc. “When the going gets tough, the natural reaction is to insist on doing more,” Giamanco said.

But doing more activities doesn’t always lead to the desired results. Instead, focusing on the right opportunities and activities for the buyer will help salespeople move opportunities down the chain. “I believe more of the wrong sales activity is not going to lead to the right sales result,” Giamanco said.

We all hit walls and struggle with our approaches. Sometimes, it helps to just take a step back and have some courage to do things a bit differently. Instead of focusing on the sale, sellers should try providing something of value. “The first touch is starting the relationship, not closing the deal,” Giamanco said.

Investing in Learning

There’s no limit to knowledge and training potential. Salespeople often expect they will be trained on the job, and that isn’t always the case. “Don’t wait for your company to give you training,” Giamanco said.

“Learn to earn.” This is Giamanco’s philosophy that at some point, every salesperson has to take accountability for their success by educating themselves. “There’s no excuse for not being able to go out there and gather data,” Giamanco said.

Buyers are busy doing their work and don’t have much time to be outside the company looking at what’s happening from another point of view. That’s the seller’s responsibility. “It’s your job to make sure you’re staying fresh and relevant and on top of what’s current and what’s coming,” Giamanco said. “Doing those things happens to be exactly the thing that buyers are looking for from sellers.”

Acceleration Insight

In every episode of the B2B Revenue Executive Experience, we try to pull one nugget of wisdom from our guests that they would impart on a sales professional. Here’s this one:

“I think it comes down to taking responsibility for your own success. Don’t wait for somebody else to give you the training and the skills and the guidance you need to respond to what buyers say they want from sales people. It’s your job to make it clear how you’re different from everybody else who just pitches. Watch YouTube videos. Follow people like (Chad) and me, listen to podcasts. Get out there and ask questions and take it on yourself to drive your own success because nobody’s going to do it for you.”

This post is based on a podcast interview with Barb Giamanco author of The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to the B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.

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