There is a lot of noise about the shift in how business customer buy. The customer decision journey has become incredibly complex and involves more stakeholders, information sources and decision stages. As a result, control of the sales process has shifted from the vendor to the buyer.
An effective design process can create a flexible framework that enables sales and marketing to adapt to changes in customers buying behaviors. The design process seeks to build the following capabilities within the organization:
Agile, data driven marketing and sales - Companies need to know which numbers matter. They need to monitor those numbers so they know when something has changed. They need the ability to formulate hypothesis and run quick experiments to respond to shifts in how their customers are behaving.
Research - Like production or billing, customer understanding is now a basic business function. Companies need the ability to research the attitudes and behaviors of existing customers, mine information about the market from the internet and get the information spread throughout the company so employees can act on it.
Integrated sales and marketing - The lines between stages of a purchase have become blurred. Potential customers now bounce between needs recognition, exploration, research, and evaluation seemingly at random. There is no longer a clean handoff from marketing to sales. Sales and marketing need to act as one revenue generation unit and work through a customers purchase process together.
Over the next few days we'll share the design process we use to create a customer driven sales and marketing framework for our clients. Our design process has its roots in service and experience design and follows an iterative, customer-involved path:
Phase 1 - Research
Phase one involves both qualitative and quantitive research into how and why your customers buy your products or services.
Phase 2 - Analysis
The Analysis Phase involves aggregating the data from the research phase and presenting it in a visual way to identify opportunities and issues.
Phase 3 - Develop
In Phase 3 we develop ideas and concepts for possible sales and marketing frameworks. We involve a wide group of representatives from all levels of the organization as well as customers and partners.
Phase 4 - Test
In the testing phase we validate the assumptions we made in the development phase. Testing can involve both qualitative and quantitative research and always involves customers.
Phase 5 - Refine
Phase five uses the feedback in the testing phase to refine the original design.
Phase 6 - Implement and Manage
Phase six focuses on creating a plan for communicating and managing changes across the entire organization. We also look at ways to develop a culture that supports iterative design so this process can be repeated regularly.
A Quick Note About What This is Not
Our design process and the frameworks we develop are not sales tactics. Sales people can continue to apply the sales methods of their choice, be it SPIN, SNAP, Sandler or Challenger. This creates a framework for understanding the customer and delivering the right information --or asking the right questions- at the right time to meet a customers specific need at a specific stage in the buying process.