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To Drive Sales Success, Become Your Customers' Travel Agent

Yesterday morning kicked off the start to what’s been a very exhilarating CEB Sales and Marketing Summit! The first presentation of the morning was presented by CEB’s Brent Adamson, titled The End of Customer Empowerment. Brent did a fantastic job of getting this group of successful sales and marketing pros fired up about this “new world of more” we live in.

What struck me the most out of all of the data, concepts, and emerging frameworks Brent presented was the notion of becoming a travel agent for your customers. Who uses a travel agent these days? Who needs one with more travel sites online than you can count, hundreds of hotels to choose from, package deals for early bird booking, discounts for booking your airfare and hotel together, and all with complete ease, right? After scouring what feels like an endless number of options, you book your trip. But, how do you know you’re making the right choice? Well, in this “world of more” the technology buyers’ experience has become just as overwhelming and tiresome as booking a vacation online. More information, more options, and more people involved in the purchasing cycle makes for an arduous process that more often than not takes twice as long as originally intended. When you think about it, using a travel agent may not be the worst idea.

Sales reps need to become travel agents for their customers. More and more people are going back to using travel agents to book their vacations. Why? Because it’s easy. You’re putting your fate in an expert, which allows you to eliminate second-guessing and buyers’ remorse. Technology purchasing decisions need to be just as easy. Sales reps need to take their buyer’s hand and show them what they should do. Don’t ask your buyer what they need; tell them.

Taking a prescriptive, proactive approach to selling means taking control and steering the conversation where it needs to go. You should have a good enough understanding of what your prospect needs before you speak with them based on their own industry, job and pain points. Then, help prospects solve their problems by proposing the right solution—your product or service.

Brent said if he could put 100,000 of today’s B2B technology sellers in a room and teach them one thing in 30 seconds, he would teach them how to use this phrase: “Our customers have had success with this, so let me show how you will too.” I’m paraphrasing, but in today’s sales process where the buyer is in control, Brent has a point. Understanding your customer and how your product helps them specifically could just mean the difference between an overwhelmed, disjointed, misguided purchasing cycle and a controlled, focused, and solution-driven won deal.

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