I know this article isn’t going to get much SEO juice. It doesn’t have any keywords, popular search terms, cliches or even common phrases. But as I thought about the challenges facing companies today, this is the right title at the right time.
Hopefully, this article gets you excited about the future, about the possibilities and about the levers you’ll need to pull to grow your revenue going into next year.
If you like it, share it on social, pass it along to your friends, send copies to peers, talk about it with your management team and use it to direct your marketing and sales folks.
I regularly ask new clients why they chose Square 2. I highly encourage you to take a similar approach at your company. The reason I hear the most (and by far) from our clients is they felt like we listened the best during the sales process, and they liked how we walked them through a series of meetings to get to know them and what they needed.
If you want me to translate this, I can. It means we delivered a better experience than all the other agencies they talked to. Our marketing did a better job educating them through their early and middle buyer journey, and our sales team did a better job educating them during their buyer journey stages.
The result is an extremely high close rate on recommendations we submit to prospects, and we’re usually more expensive than a lot of other options.
Here’s how we do it.
We create an experience for our prospects that is designed specifically to:
Here’s how you can do it too.
The only way to deliver an experience that sets your company apart from the competition and gets your prospects to feel safe is to map out every single touch point along the way.
The only way to do that is to work from a map. The Cyclonic Buyer Journey™ provides such a map. The eight individual stages in this model are designed to capture all the stages today’s buyers go through when executing a B2B buying process.
To learn more about these eight stages, check out this extensive resource on the Cyclonic Buyer Journey. If you’d like to really go deep, consider reading the book Smash the Funnel, which explains in detail how people make B2B purchase decisions today and how to best leverage that process so you close more and grow revenue.
However, the mapping process is very straightforward. You should consider getting a few of your salespeople together and think about some of your more recent prospects, as well as some of your best customers.
List out on paper (or on a whiteboard) exactly where prospects encountered your company. Did they have a conversation with a current customer? Did they do a Google search? Did they do a search on social media? Were they referred by another company?
Then outline the steps they went through to learn about your company. What pages on your website did they visit? What online reviews did they read? Who did they talk to about your company? Did they download, sign up or use any of your digital tools? Did they attend any in-person or digital events?
At some point in their journey, they are going to exhaust all the available resources. This is usually when they move from an experience that is supported by marketing to an experience supported by sales. This is also generally during the Evaluation Stage of the buyer journey.
At this stage, your prospect has decided that a company, product or service like yours is what they need, but they’re evaluating three or more options, all of which are similar to yours. This is usually when someone from the prospect’s company reaches out to sales.
Now sales has the ball, and they need to continue creating an amazing experience as well.
Here is the process we use, and for the sake of this article, let’s use it as an illustrative sales process:
Discovery Call – Are they qualified? Are we talking to power? Do they have articulated pain? Is it a good fit for us? Can we help them?
Diagnostic Meeting – During this session we ask a ton of questions and get everything we need to understand their challenges, what they need, what they want, how we can help them and any data we can look at to help connect our recommendations with expected outcomes.
Engagement Summary – This offline session is used to socialize the investment and dial in the recommendations. We want them to be part of the solution creation process, and we don’t want them surprised when we present the recommendation details.
Recommendations Session – This is where we present our recommendations in detail. We get their sign-off on alignment and schedule the program kickoff.
Before, during and after these three meetings there is communication and information sharing. Each of these emails, calls or texts is designed to deliver value to the prospect – either educational information in context to their questions or proposed program or information that might answer specific questions they had or concerns they expressed.
The entire set of interactions from first contact with a rep to the final signed agreement is choreographed – not in a templated way but in a way that is designed to get them to feel safe hiring us to help them.
The result is an extremely high close rate in a very competitive industry.
But you’re not really done, because you still have to make sure they have an amazing experience once they become a customer.
Not only do you have to create amazing experiences for people before they become customers, but you have to create even more amazing experiences for people after they become customers.
Remember the stories about Zappos when they were making their mark? Customer service people spent hours talking to customers. One even helped a customer find a pizza for late-night delivery. While the stories were extreme, they made Zappos remarkable. Customers raved about them, and they were acquired by Amazon.
To do this you have to take a similar approach as we’ve been discussing in the marketing and sales sections. Who onboards new customers? How is this done remarkably? What tools, materials or videos do they use? How do you ensure customers are having a remarkable experience? Who reaches out to them? When? How are they encouraged to be active advocates for your business? Are they incentivized in any way?
Some of this can be automated, so what technology are you using to make this process easy for your team and authentic for your customers?
Make sure every single touch point is identified and made remarkable. Even simple email notifications can be remarkable. You might recall this story about a company called CD Baby that sells obscure music on CDs.
This is the email customers get after they order new music:
Thank you for your purchase – everyone at CD Baby is so excited to get your requested selection out to you as quickly as possible. We’ve assembled in the factory and are using white gloves to gingerly prepare your CD for delivery. We’ve packaged it in a loving velvet bag and we’re ensuring it’s delivered safely by adding extra insulation to the box. We’re all walking it out of our facility and down to the shipping station, where it will get loaded onto our ultra-modern delivery vehicle. You can track your order by using this link. We expect it to arrive at your door in just 2 days.
Thank you again for your order. While we’re sad to see it go, we’re thrilled it will have a great new home with someone who loves music as much as we do.
The CD Baby Team
A simple email confirmation is now a remarkable piece of content to be talked about, shared and remembered by the customer. This is how you build a brand, tell a story and get your company noticed by the people you want to notice it – the people who will buy from you over and over again.
Experience is going to be the new battlefield when it comes to winning or losing business. The companies that do this the best will have the highest close rates, the shortest sales cycles and the best bet for building a repeatable, scalable and predictable revenue generation system.