At first, this title may seem like some kind of an oxymoron. How can a business process be enjoyable? If you go and, let us say, sit and listen to a talk on business processes, you’re probably not going to come away saying, “Wow, that was really fun and entertaining!
Most people would agree that “business processes” is kind of a boring subject.
Crucial Importance of Business Processes
Yet while it may be a boring topic, today an enterprise of any kind cannot survive without a process. In today’s digital world, every activity must be part and parcel of your process and must be defined more clearly than at any other time in history. This definition includes things like inventory; when a salesperson is on the road, they need to know that something is in stock before they promise timely delivery to a prospect.
In order to attain that precise definition, you need to fully understand your buyer and their needs. Otherwise, the business process won’t be properly defined and, frankly, won’t work.
A buyer wants to be addressed personally. They want you to understand their situation and deal with it every time you talk to them. For a company trying to scale to something like 10,000 customers, dealing personally with each prospect or customer simply won’t happen with Excel.
Buyers only go where their preference is met—and this personalization is the whole crux of today’s transformation in buyer experience. It’s an interesting fact that with the world population now approaching 8 billion, personalization becomes increasingly important.
Addressing the buyer’s personal experience is the primary reason for digital processes. You can only address the end user adequately when you have a robust process utilizing digital data. How else would you accomplish personally addressing each buyer in a company with 10,000 customers? Perhaps if you had 10,000 employees, 1 for each customer—but that would be ridiculously expensive and, in the end, unwieldy.
Understanding the Buyer
The understanding of buyers comes about through precise questioning. Sometimes buyers themselves haven’t clearly defined what they want, and it takes intelligent questions on your part to get to the core of what they want to accomplish.
For example, in our own CRM space, we find that many enterprises today still have no real way to track sales. They’re still working with email and Excel files. We know from having observed many companies—and having made many sales—that trying to operate a sales organization and manage accounts, contacts, opportunities and leads with Excel just doesn’t work anymore. When we question them correctly, they finally realize that an intuitive, visual CRM such as ours is their answer.
It’s a fact that, when you’re talking to a buyer that isn’t really sure what they need, you have no business case. Sure you can try and “sell” them something, but such an attempt probably won’t be effective. So as I said it takes intelligent questioning—about the solution they currently have, and where they want to be.
That whole process can be very boring! So I believe that in the future, business processes and enjoyment must be linked. Kind of like 2 sides of a coin—one side processes, the other side enjoyment.
You’ll note that consumer shopping is generally an enjoyable experience. Many people really enjoy buying shoes, for example. Can you imagine how many customers shoe stores would lose if the buying process was boring? The came could be said for buying clothing, or an automobile.
Part of is the seller’s attitude. If the seller is arrogant for example, this doesn’t make for a great buying experience. This can happen when a salesperson tries to pre-qualify their buyer visually. Seeing they’re not wearing expensive clothing, they figure the person couldn’t afford to be shopping in the store. A classic example is a scene in the film Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts’ character is refused service by the snobby Rodeo Drive saleswoman and ends up “eating crow.” Scenes like that do happen in real life, too—as when rock star Grace Slick showed up at a San Francisco Ferrari dealership in torn jeans. Before the salesperson could throw her out (obviously not recognizing her), she pulled out $10,000 in cash—the price of a Ferrari in those days—and slapped it down on the counter. Shock didn’t probably adequately describe how that salesperson felt.
Translate to B2B
So how can a B2B salesperson make the buying experience enjoyable? Dance? Sing? Tell jokes?
No, it’s actually a little easier than that: It all goes back to understanding the buyer. But in this case, it’s understanding the individual buyer you’re dealing with. You have to address each person individually and not make assumptions about them. As a small example, my writer, a man, is constantly annoyed by salespeople who try and chum up to him buy assuming that, because he’s a guy, he’s all into football and sports. He isn’t—not even close.
So you have to learn to read people. Over the phone, it might mean a few well-placed questions just to learn a bit about them. You can’t make assumptions based on gender, race or anything else. And you must learn to read them emotionally: are they happy? Kind of depressed? Anxious? Elated?
And all of that goes back to another factor in our Network Selling model: empathy. A great salesperson utilizes the skill of empathy, and by doing so will create an enjoyable sales experience.
Truly it isn’t rocket science—people are thankful for the little things. When you’ve reached someone who’s obviously very busy say something like, “I’ll make it quick and get out of your hair—but hopefully I can make your day just a little bit better by giving you the hope of a better solution.” Then thank them for their time, and maybe compliment them on their ability to handle many things at once.
That experience is summed up in how the buyer feels after the sale is closed. If they had an enjoyable experience, that enjoyment is what’s going to cause them to recommend you, your company, your product or service. And that recommendation, as you probably know, is the best possible marketing you can have. It’s the kind of marketing your marketing department would love to be able to generalize into numbers, or maybe even automate. It can’t be done—a great buying experience can only be created by the salesperson personally.
The Disappearing Salesperson?
That buying experience is why I don’t believe some of the talks of late about the “disappearing salesperson” being totally replaced by automation. I actually believe we’ll continue to see live salespeople and even more of them. A fabulous example is Apple stores. They’re staffed by lots of salespeople, and customers shop there in droves. Yes, Apple has great products, but that’s not just what brings customers to the store. It is totally the enjoyable atmosphere provided by those salespeople.
Creating Wealth and Producing Peace
It is through this buying experience that salespeople are, in my opinion, making for a better world. By creating great buying experiences for customers, they are creating wealth and producing peace (as can be seen at the bottom of our Network Selling graphic).
There are companies that are way ahead of the curve in this regard. I’m aware of one that trains every one of their 1,500 employees to be grateful to the customer. There are even bonuses and awards connected to this approach and attitude. It’s very customer-centric.
Bringing It Back Home
I’ll end by bringing the whole message back home. Let’s say that it’s your anniversary, and you and your spouse want to go out to your favorite restaurant. What’s the primary element you want out of that outing? An enjoyable experience! If for some reason the waiter is not very good or is not nice, that memory will probably override the fact that the food was awesome—and it will be remembered as an unpleasant experience. The waiter was the “sales rep” and your buying experience was marred by their attitude.
The buyer’s experience can have everything to do with why some brands do well and others do not. We all want a holistically enjoyable experience. Life is, after all, about enjoyment. When you don’t enjoy life anymore, you become miserable. You end up criticizing everything and will be the person that finds that one tiny dark spot on the white shirt.
To sum up: In today’s digital world you must have a precise business process. If you want to be an incredible success, that business success must be enjoyable for all buyers.