In B2B sales, it’s easy to get impersonal. The very name, business-to-business, replaces individuals with larger entities. But as with any sales process, B2B deals rely on small-scale personal interactions: individual sales reps speaking with individual buyers. In the increasingly digital realm of B2B sales, customer experience testing is as important as ever.
To deliver the best experience to your customers—and, as a result, close more deals—you need to regularly evaluate and improve the buyer’s journey. It can be a slow, painstaking process, but it’s worth it. And in this blog series, we break it down for you.
Our first post in this series covers the first stages of the buyer’s journey, from prospecting up until the lead has been passed to an account executive. This post—part two—covers the next stage: closing.
Once an AE takes over a lead, your prospect has reached a crucial point of the buyer experience. It’s do or die. Either the AE effectively addresses the buyer’s pain points and makes a sale or they don’t, and the deal never leaves the pipeline. Because there is little room for error, customer experience testing is especially important at this stage of the buying cycle.
Through each stage of the buyer’s journey, your testing methodology stays fundamentally the same. In the closing stage, apply the same strategies you used to evaluate SDRs in presale to monitor your account executives.
Review discovery calls
The discovery call is the weakest part of the sales process for many reps. During this call, reps try to understand a prospect’s pain points and to position their product or service as the best solution. It’s a crucial part of any sale.
Naturally, you’ll want to monitor your reps discovery calls to ensure they’re providing the best possible service. Here’s the problem: Balancing the two elements of a discovery call is tricky under the best circumstances—you’re not doing your reps any favors lurking over their shoulders to listen in.
Just like you did with your SDRs, record all of your reps’ discovery calls. Randomly select a few to review in 1:1s or group training. This method allows you to evaluate discovery calls without throwing your reps off their game.
As you review these calls with your team or individual reps, keep the conversation constructive. Asking the following questions can help you and your team think critically while keeping the focus on improvement.
1. Does the rep stick to a consistent framework?
If your sales organization has an established framework in place, reps should consistently follow those guidelines. Each call will, of course, vary to fit the client’s needs, but the general structure of discovery calls should remain the same.
As you review calls with your team, adjust the framework based on feedback from representatives and customers. If your sales org doesn’t have a framework, work with your team to develop one as you review calls. As you build out a set of guidelines, keep your company’s target customers in mind.
2. Has the rep asked enough questions?
No two prospects are exactly alike. To understand each prospect’s unique pain points, reps need to let the customer do the talking. Asking a series of questions, especially at the beginning of a call, can help a rep get the customer talking and quickly uncover their primary business problems.
In a study of 519,000 recorded discovery calls, Gong.io found that successful sales reps ask between 11 and 14 questions per call. When reps asked six or fewer questions, the success rate dropped from 74% to 46%.
As you review calls with your team, keep a tally of questions the rep asks. Invite team members to identify places in the call where a follow-up question could have added additional clarity.
3. Is the rep actively listening to the prospect and giving them time to talk?
While reps should be asking questions, they should tailor those questions to each specific prospect. “If you’re too focused on what you’re going to ask next, you aren’t having a conversation,” explains Dan Smith of Winning by Design. “You’re running through a checklist.” Look for signs that your reps are listening. According to Gong.io, top-performing sales reps talk only 46% of the time.
4. Has the rep done their homework beforehand?
A rep should never have to ask a prospect about their job title or what their company does. Such questions can easily be avoided with a quick google search or review of the SDR’s notes prior to the call. This information should also be readily available via account maps and other visual tools. By eliminating these basic questions, your reps can dive right into the conversations that lead to sales.
So you know how to test customer calls—but why? Learn why mastering the discovery call can improve your buyer experience.
On top of discovery calls, account executives are often responsible for giving product demos. Done right, these calls or meetings can provide the final push a prospect needs to purchase your product. As you review the demos given by account executives, ask these questions about their performance and coach accordingly.
1. Has the AE introduced everyone on the call correctly?
This may seem like a small thing, but it sets the tone for the rest of the meeting. If an account executive introduces everyone with the right title or job function, it adds to their credibility and lets prospects know whom they can use as a resource in the future. On the flip side, if an AE gets this wrong, it can cause prospects to write them off from the start. And on top of that, it’s just embarrassing—with all of the resources available, from LinkedIn to Salesforce, there’s no excuse for messing this up.
2. Is the rep focused on features or solutions?
Nothing kills a sales call like a list of features—the prospect can find those online. Reps should instead focus on selling a solution: How can your product address the customer’s pain points? Specific features might come up during the conversation, but they should not be the main focus of the call.
Often, customers with purchasing power won’t ever use your product. They want to know why their company needs a solution, not how exactly it works. What’s in it for them? Whether it’s increased productivity, better information flow, etc., reps should make a compelling value proposition.
3. Does the rep know the product inside and out?
You can’t give a compelling demonstration for a product you’re unfamiliar with. For your employees, using your product should be second nature. That way, their entire focus can be on the customer during demos, not on wrestling with the product. 94% of B2B buyers reported that live interactions with “knowledgeable” employees make them more likely to purchase from a company—your reps should strive to be those knowledgeable employees.
Ask for customer and team feedback
There are two sides to every sale: the seller (your team) and the buyer. You need to account for both as you test your buyer experience. No matter how much quantitative data you gather and analyze—KPIs and other measures of your reps’ performance—you still need to examine qualitative data: the actual experience customers have. Reach out customers, both won and lost, for feedback on their experiences. (Lost customers, the ones that got away, often provide the most useful insights.)
If you conduct your own customer interviews or surveys, consider these questions:
- Did the rep provide relevant content?
- Did the rep follow up promptly?
- What made you decide to purchase or not purchase?
Review the feedback you receive with your account executives and make any appropriate changes to your existing processes.
After the sale
Once the deal has closed, the buyer is passed along to your customer success managers and account managers. Over the course of a sale, the account executive collects tons of information about the buyer—information that could help your customer success teams in their post-sale processes.
Nobody wants to repeat the same details over and over again—so don’t subject your buyers to that process. Account executives are responsible for communicating all of the information they gathered. For each deal, follow up with your customer success team to see if they received enough info from the AE, whether they were brought in early enough, and whether the sales rep set appropriate expectations.
Your account executives’ involvement ends here, but the customer journey isn’t complete just yet! To learn about testing the post-sale portion of your buyer journey, read part three of this series.
Your account executives’ involvement ends here, but the customer journey isn’t complete just yet! Test the post-sale portion of your buyer journey.