If your products are in any part sold by people (versus entirely on-line or via catalog sales), you see your sales team as the primary creator of persuasive momentum for your buyer. But because persuasive momentum is designed, a sales rep needs a solid foundation of supporting “tools”. There are three key requirements for these tools:
- The tools must help the sales rep better understand the buyer
- The tools must align the sales process with the prospect’s buying process
- The tools must support and satisfy the prospect’s needs at each stage of their buying process
Buyer personas are the tools that help a sales rep better understand the buyer. Buyer personas profile a type of buyer. They are not simply a demographic description of the buyer. They go deeper to understand the personality, motivations, and behavior of a type of buyer. The breadth and complexity of a business’ products will influence the number of buyer personas the sales team needs.
For each buyer persona, a detailed buying process map is needed. The buying process map defines the stages the prospect goes through in their buying process. For each stage, it identifies the key sources, resources, questions, and concerns that need to be satisfied before the buyer will move onto the next stage.
With the buying process maps established, the buying process needs to be aligned with the sales process. This alignment is critical in ensuring all of the buyer’s process stages are supported in the corporate sales process. It enables the sales person to anticipate the needs of the buyer and be prepared to meet those needs. This sales preparation creates buyer incentive and acts as an emotional support throughout the buying process.
Finally, in order for the sales rep to create that forward momentum with the buyer, they must have the information the buyer needs instantly at hand. This means that appropriate mechanisms – demos, presentations, evaluation criteria, etc. must be prepared in advance to support the needs of the prospect. Each buying stage has its own requirements. Each buyer modality has its own interests.
Preparation is a critical underpinning of persuasive momentum. Time is an important factor in building momentum. If the sales rep takes too long in responding to a buyer’s need (framed as a request, question or concern), a momentum gap is created. This creates an opening for the buyer to seek more immediate satisfaction elsewhere. “Elsewhere” can mean other channels (on-line), other sources (outside experts), and other products (competitor’s offerings).
If it hasn’t become evident yet, a sales rep is often the conductor of persuasive momentum. But it really takes a cross-functional team to support it. Product marketing, marketing communications, customer service, sales engineers, and sales management all play equally critical roles in ensuring persuasive momentum.