As originally published by Qvidian

Sales is all about the experience. That is, to the buyer it is all about the experience. You might very well have the best product, even a well-defined methodology, but if anywhere in the selling process it breaks down and delivers anything other than a positive experience to your buyer – you’ve lost that customer for sure.

It’s much like dining at a new restaurant, in terms of the experience. You saw an advertisement or were referred by a friend or colleague. You did some due diligence or maybe saw photos of their food online that enticed you enough to try. That’s already the start of your experience.

So, you make the reservation, you show up and are greeted with a friendly and positive– “Hello, how can I help you?” You are promptly seated, handed a menu, and the waiter swings by in short order and asks, “Can I offer you something to drink?” While reviewing the menu, you look across the room and see the manager approaching a patron who has just put on his sweater and say, “Is it too cold in here? Let me adjust the temperature for you.” The waiter returns, and you ask if they recommend any special dishes. “The rib eye and Osso Buco are divine, however we got in some fresh sea bass just this morning and it is exceptional. A little less expensive also, but delivers equal satisfaction.” You go with the sea bass. The plates arrive with a beautiful presentation and sublime flavor. You finish your meal, the check comes back with no surprises, assuming you skipped dessert, and you exit with a friendly good bye from staff – “Thank you for coming.” Your experience is complete.

Now think about the opposite…

You try to make a reservation, but the online system comes up with errors or is otherwise nonresponsive. You try calling, but are put on an endless hold. You decide to try a walk in, and there are two receptionists chatting with each other without even recognizing your presence. You finally get seated at a table, located right next to the swinging door of the kitchen buzzing with yelling cooks and falling dishes. It is loud, the lights are too bright, and the manager is chatting with the bartender who is neglecting the patrons at the bar. Your waiter doesn’t arrive until 20 minutes after you’ve sat down, and you’re still waiting for menus. At last, you get menus, and ask the waiter for any recommendations, and the response is, “Oh, everything is good.” You place our order, the plates arrive, and you look up at the waiter and say, “This is not what I ordered.” Blank stare. The waiter returns after far too long with what can only be described as a TV dinner presentation, and something both chewy and flavorless. You get the check, which includes the first plate that you didn’t order and returned. After much chatter in the back, the waiter finally arrives with an adjusted check, and you exit. Your experience is complete.

If any one single of those moments happened, you would no doubt be concerned, let alone a series of missteps which would have ruined your entire experience and make you never want to return.

Now apply any of those moments to your selling experience. Are your marketing communications, content, and interactions with buyers flawless? How positive and helpful to buyers are your business development or inside sales teams, and how well are they setting the stage for your customer experience? How well aligned is your sales team to where buyers are in their buying process? How well does your sales team actually communicate value to buyers? This is just the tip of the iceberg of the end-to-end customer experience.

Sounds simple and obvious, but more often than not, and whether you know of it or not, it’s happening. As leaders we need to not just “believe” our teams are doing what’s needed at any given moment in the customer experience, we need to “know.” Hope is not a strategy. From marketing, to inside sales, to presales, to post sales, to the desert cart – they all need to be in lockstep alignment with each other, and most importantly with your buyers.

Whether you gravitate to high-brow white tablecloth or an off-the-beaten-path dive spot, both with exceptional food, it’s all about the experience. And whether you’re a large or small B2B sales organization, we all need to be more consistent in our execution. One misstep in not understanding who you’re serving and what they need – can lose the customer forever.

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