"The single biggest challenge of selling today is not selling; it is our customers’ struggle to buy." - Brent Adamson, Gartner.
Sales leaders are used to being judged on their team’s forecast accuracy and quota attainment abilities. However, today B2B relationships are experiencing a fundamental transformation (accelerated by remote working) caused by changing buying behavior and preferences. In fact, as per research by Gartner, companies who make it extremely easy to buy from them have a 2x higher chance of winning the customer.
Buyer Engagement Platform (BEP) powers a new B2B sales approach that puts the customers’ buying priorities, goals, and milestones at the center of how revenue teams deliver a better, faster, and more personalized experience to their buyers.
The changing landscape of B2B buyer engagement
The B2B buyer is shifting from buying products and solutions to purchasing data-driven experiences that generate value right from the first time we interact with the buyer. As a result, B2B buyers now control the buying journeys - and they expect to be treated as equal partners in the buying process. B2B companies respond to this trend by adding specialized sales roles (such as solution consultants, sales engineers, value consultants, outbound product managers, customer success managers, etc.) to ensure personalized experience at every step in the customer journey.
As more digital-savvy buyers take center stage, their preference of giving priority to self-service, peer recommendations, and collaborative supplier engagement is becoming the new way to evaluate products.
B2B vendors are responding to this change by investing in sales enablement and ensuring frontline sales teams have the knowledge and skills to deliver a value-rich experience.
What is wrong with the existing solutions?
84% of business buyers are more likely to buy from a company that demonstrates an understanding of their business goals. - State of connected customer 2020, Salesforce
The sales process, for the most part, is designed with the seller at the center and ends when the contract gets signed. But in the world of land-expand-retain, most revenue comes from expansion and growth. So here’s what the current state looks like:
- Suppliers exclusively rely on individual sellers to deliver a personalized experience at every single point of the buying journey
- Sellers follow their sales process and, more often than not, do very little to adapt to the customers' unique buying process
- Forecasting relies on seller interpretation and not the actual customer reality
To traverse the complex buyer journey smoothly, sellers create a Mutual Success Plan (MSP) - which outlines the target dates along with owners of milestones from buyers and sellers side. Typically prepared on excel sheets and uploaded on CRM on a weekly basis, the MSP is the single source of truth on the progress of the project for both sides.
However, in reality, multiple versions of the truth exist. Missed follow-ups and deadlines are still common due to a lack of discipline and visibility. Sales leadership often falters to find the latest updated version of the Mutual Action Plan for their quarterly projections. Surprisingly, technology has not yet been leveraged to make Mutual Success Plans more efficient and effective.
From Close plans to Mutual Action Plans to Mutual Success Plans
The BuyerAssist.io website has the following to say on the above subject.
A lot of experienced sellers already use Close Plans or Mutual Action Plans (MAP) to plan through the decision and paper processes with their buyers. But,there is a subtle difference.
Close Plans are designed to help a seller win deals without any explicit need to include the buyer in the process of creating it. MAPs are an improvement from Close Plans in the sense that they are buyer facing, but because the focus is on project management alone, they are usually abandoned after the contract is signed and do not get used for any meaningful buyer value delivery. To that extent, MAPs are Close Plans that get occasionally reviewed with a buyer 2-3 times in the entire sales cycle.
Mutual Success Plan (MSP) is a new way of buyer engagement that is focused on two key concepts – ‘Mutual Success’ and ‘Success Plan’. ‘Mutual Success’ is about establishing a shared understanding of what success means for you and your buyers. ‘Success Plan’ is the shared path that you and your buyer need to take in order to reach the mutually desired outcomes.
MSPs start with value discovery and go all the way through to value realization for the buyers (contract signing is just one step in this process). MSPs are co-developed with the buyers and continuously reviewed with them throughout the relationship to ensure that both parties are always directing their efforts in the joint pursuit of buyer outcomes and make necessary course-corrections in cases of any deviation.
This new way of buyer engagement aligns with modern buyer expectations around self-service and outcome-driven vendor relationships.It is a new way of thinking about buyer experience and customer success.
B2B selling is in challenging times. The path to purchase is taking longer and deals are getting more complex. Buyers are spending more time researching on their own before contacting vendors, a situation that presents an existential threat for sales reps. Worse yet, more people are involved in purchasing decisions, which can stretch closing times or stop deals altogether. The irony is here: As e-commerce has made selling easier, closing deals in the B2B world is becoming more complex.
Finally, B2B buyers find content difficult to share internally and often challenging to understand, strengthening their reliance on their reps. Thus, there remains a need for a guiding hand to help buyers through the process.
How is BuyerAssist.io solving this?
BuyerAssist brings a radically new approach to buyer engagement - one that enables B2B revenue organizations to always be in sync with their buyers. This new approach empowers revenue teams to methodically center all their efforts around their buyer stakeholders’ priorities by aligning with them on a mutually identified set of desired outcomes, milestone-based plan to get there, and collaboratively delivering the most differentiated, value-adding interactions throughout this journey.
BuyerAssist helps operationalize buyer-centric selling so that the sales team can make buyers successful in lesser time and accelerate revenue growth per account. In addition, it enables B2B sellers to provide B2B buyers a single, integrated, collaborative engagement interface throughout their journey with you. This helps create a more transparent, outcome-oriented relationship with your buyers, driving mutual accountability and a milestone-based approach in B2B seller-buyer relationships.
BuyerAssist.io delivers 3 core value propositions to sellers:
- Faster time to value for buyers (lower sales cycle and higher renewal rates)
- Better alignment and collaboration between buyers and sellers
- Better visibility to internal support teams and sales leadership
Buyer value discovery: It enables interactions that help identify and define potential value for buyers and create a plan to get there.
BuyerAssist.io helps transform sales discovery into a systematic approach for sellers and buyers to co-develop a shared understanding of the buying team’s priorities, desired outcomes, and milestones, and jointly create a plan.
Buyer success collaboration: helps partner with buying teams across personalized milestones in a jointly developed roadmap to buyer success.
BuyerAssist.io helps to switch from driving buyer engagement across siloed email threads and ad-hoc collaboration to a streamlined, systematic approach that anchors all activities around buyer milestones identified in a jointly developed mutual success plan.
Buyer Enablement: Empower your buyers with one-place-to-go for accessing contextually relevant information at any time.
BuyerAssist.io empowers buyer champions with one-place-to-go for real-time access to insights and information needed to articulate your value, drive decisions and internally sell on your behalf.
Buyer Data Platform: BuyerAssist.io Buyer Data Platform transforms buyer engagement by gaining total visibility into how buyers evaluate, buy, and realize value from products; understanding what is important to them and what is not.
What does the future look like for B2B buyer engagement?
Seismic shifts in B2B buying are poised to reconfigure B2B buyer engagement over the coming years dramatically. In the future, buying experience will become measurable, controllable, and digital-first. Selling will become omnichannel, outcome first and digital-driven, and most workflows will be built around the buyer and seller working together. Sales professions won't be the yardstick for determining the best B2B sales organizations, or at least not altogether, since improving an individual seller's performance would soon become a rather mismatched way to address the oncoming, fundamental shift in how buyers buy.
Instead, CROs must graduate their mindset from leading teams of individual sellers to leading with organizational selling, embracing digital routes to market as the top most priority. The future of B2B buyer engagement will see a permanent transformation to cater to the new buyer and their preferences. This will also force sellers to adapt from a selling-first mindset to an enabling-buying first mindset. Sales leaders who adapt to this change will win more business than others.