Sean McDade, PhD, is the founder and CEO of PeopleMetrics; a software and services company that helps organizations measure and create a better customer experience by listening to their customers and prospects. Sean is also the author of “Listen or Die: 40 Lessons that turn Customer Feedback into Gold,” a book about how to listen to your customers, clients and prospects in order to create a better experience for them.
Any time that a company interacts with a customer or prospect, they are providing a customer experience. It could be a digital experience on a website, an in-person experience through a meeting with a sales rep, or customer experiences via contact centers or online chats.
A great company is one that consciously manages those interactions to create positive experiences for their customers.
As a sales rep, the experience you give to your prospects is very important. The prospect’s interaction with a sales rep sets the tone for the experience he can expect as a customer.
This is especially true if you are selling B2B products, software, professional services, or any high-end consumer products that a prospect is likely to spend significant dollars on to purchase.
A sales rep can increase the value in the sales process by answering questions in detail, by solving problems, and by reducing pain for the prospect.
The metric used to measure customer experience is substantially higher for sales reps who add value over those who do not.
When a prospect feels that he was lied to, or misled, at the beginning, it is difficult to recover. The great sales reps are the ones who set the tone for a great customer or client experience over the long-term.
As for the sales reps who are not setting a positive tone – Sean believes they are creating the very real possibility that the client will churn in the future instead.
Marketing sets the brand promise. They set the expectations but it is up to the sales reps to bring it to life.
The prospects will remember their conversations with sales reps long after they’ve forgotten the marketing campaign. The sales rep has more credibility and is more effective, as a result, in setting a positive – or negative – tone with the prospect.
PeopleMetrics measures various attributes by sending a survey to each prospect to determine the experiences that the reps create.
In this way, Sean has found the prospects always feel that value has been added to their experience whenever a sales rep is able to provide these five things:
Referrals are key, especially in the B2B market. At that level, buyers actually seek out referrals from other buyers before making big decisions.
As sales reps, we sometimes feel as though we are simply taking orders when, in truth, we should aim to be more of a consultant for the buyer. The company we work for should be one that values the consultative element: providing training, experience, and hands-on opportunities for the sales reps to really learn the product well.
As an example, Sean has a great rep at his company who is generally tasked with opening doors by understanding the prospect’s needs, identifying problems, and introducing solutions. On his own time, the rep learned the product inside and out to the point where he can now read the reports the analysts write for similar-type prospects. He knows the industry, the language, and the company so well that he is extremely credible as a result. The value that the company placed on his training continues to pay off.
Unfortunately, a lot of smaller companies are unable to provide training, so it is up to the rep to become consultative through proactive measures. Learn as much as you can about the product and the industry and talk to account managers who are servicing similar products, etc.
As sales reps, we don’t need our buyers to know all about our business. Rather, we need to learn as much as possible about theirs. We need to be able to help them see their blind spots and identify their weaknesses so that we can create a great prospect experience by providing solutions.
Nothing annoys a buyer more than having to answer questions simply to bring a sales rep up to speed, especially when it is something the sales rep should already understand. Instead, if you can offer the buyer insight into the many ways that your product can reduce their pain, or further them in their careers, you are already ahead of the game. You’ve got the inside track.
It reminds me of a story where a sales rep friend of mine was shadowing a more established rep. The established sales rep, however, was also a really cocky and arrogant guy who didn’t feel the need to do any research on his prospects before a call. He was confident that his knowledge of the product would be sufficient to land the sale.
Long story short: Because the sales rep failed to take the time to research an acronym that he had seen on the prospect’s website, the sales rep misused the acronym and was unable to recover. It was a horrible experience that could have been prevented with a little research.
PeopleMetrics researched 800 B2B buyers and discovered some fascinating reasons as to why they buy or don’t buy.
Seventy percent of B2B buyers who experience a high-value meeting recommended the provider to others. It is a cycle that goes around and around and around. It all comes down to the experience that the sales reps have with the prospects.
Sean highly recommends reaching out to your prospects after interactions with your reps. Ask them what they did well and what they could do better. At PeopleMetrics, the survey takes less than a minute and they regularly see a 75% response rate.
Was the meeting valuable? Was the rep prepared?
And most importantly – do you have any concerns related to moving forward? This is a beautiful question because, as sales reps, we waste a lot of time chasing leads that are going nowhere. This question offers a non-confrontational way for a prospect to let us know if our product is not a good fit. Then we can focus our efforts on prospects who are.
The survey is sent to every decision maker in the group who attended the meeting. Sean does not recommend, however, having the sales manager call the prospect with the same survey questions as it is unlikely they will provide completely truthful answers.
People are more likely to provide honest feedback via digital means than in person.
“How likely would you be to recommend our product or services to a colleague?”
Sean is working with a company that is taking this one step further. Their sales reps call and thank every single customer who provided a 9, or 10. This simple act has resulted in even more referrals!
The mindset of most sales leaders is very hard-charging, or maybe marketing owns the customer experience side of things. Once the sales leader recognizes customer experience as a revenue-generating opportunity, he is more likely to implement it.
Sean recalls a client who left a meeting feeling very confident that he had landed the sale only to receive lukewarm feedback. As a result, he was able to get on the phone and determine where a misunderstanding had occurred. He was able to turn it around and make the sale.
Valuable prospect experiences can be easily and systematically incorporated in very low stress ways. At PeopleMetrics, they are super passionate about the prospect and customer experience. Their software automatically sends the survey to your prospects. Once prospects complete the survey, the company sends an email alert of results along with recommendations on how best to proceed.
PeopleMetrics also provides the ability to focus on which reps are doing well, and which ones might need more assistance. It is a complete solution for improving the prospect/customer experience by helping companies listen to their clients.
The prospect experience is the key to delivering a great customer experience that can hopefully last a lifetime.
Take the guesswork out of it. Know how your sales reps are interacting with your prospects.
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“What’s your sales metrics (the average revenue per sale)?” I respond back to them.
Unfortunately, almost all entrepreneurs and business owners stare at me clueless, unable to answer my simple question, which is perhaps one of the most common reasons why their sales never increase.
You see, knowing your sales metrics is super essential to sales growth because once you know it, you can dramatically (or methodically) skyrocket your sales and your competitors will get left behind in the dust.
Here are five sales performance metric you must follow:
The number one metric that every website owners obsess about is website traffic – a total number of unique visits to your website.
Surely, website traffic is supercritical for a successful online business, and you can monitor this metric quickly by using Google Analytics.
Your website traffic is a good indication to know whether your website is growing, stagnating, or declining. You can also measure this sales performance metric to see the efficiency of specific promotional methods. Let’s say, for example, your website experiences a sudden traffic spike after posting a guest post on a popular blog, which should indicate to you that you should be doing more of the same in the future.
On the other hand, if your website’s traffic is in decline for a very long time, this tells you that you should change your approach and try new things because whatever you’re currently doing is not working. If you don’t do it fast, your website will fail.
In addition to knowing your website traffic numbers, you should also know where all those traffic are coming. Again, you can do this quickly by using Google Analytics (it’s free).
This free SEO tool breaks down your traffic sources into four different categories: organic traffic (traffic that comes through the search engines), direct traffic (traffic that types your domain into the browser), referral traffic (traffic coming from another website), and social traffic (traffic generated through social media).
Why should I care about all these traffic sources?
The answer is simple: each traffic source will tell you more information about your website.
For example, if 70% of your website’s total traffic is organic traffic, that tells you how well your site ranks in the search engine, which in turn will show you how effective your SEO strategy is. With over 40,000 searches per second on Google alone, today search engines have become one of the most important sources of traffic.
Referral traffic gives you an idea of a total number of visitors who come through other websites – perhaps you published a guest post, or a site linked back to content on your website.
If a lot of websites are linking to your site, your business can benefit in two ways: First, your website rankings will dramatically improve, and you’ll be less dependent on the search engines to drive traffic. Second, plenty of links referring your site means that you’re doing an excellent job and shows how valuable your content is.
Direct traffic is the total number of visitors who type your website URL into their browser – for instance, http://www.yourwebsiteurl.com. A good amount of direct traffic indicates a loyal following.
Lastly, social traffic indicates a total number of visitors that come from the social media sites. The more valuable, relevant, and shareable your content is, the more engaging it becomes on social media, and thus, more traffic you will get to your website.
Which traffic source is best for me?
Well, the answer isn’t simple. It all depends on the website type you’re running. However, one thing is for sure: it’s always beneficial if your traffic came from different sources as it will help minimize the risk of your website being slaughtered if your primary site traffic source shrink.
Bounce rate is another critical sales metric, which has a significant impact on SEO. It tells you how many people leave your website immediately after arriving. So the lower your bounce rate, the longer your visitors are staying on your site (enjoying your content) and converting.
On the other hand, a high bounce rate indicates to you that your visitors are leaving, immediately after they arrive.
But, this sales performance metrics don’t tell you why they are leaving. You’ll have to do the spy work yourself by digging a little bit deeper. However, usually, a high bounce rate include poor website design, slow load times, poorly targeted keywords, and broken websites.
With these things in mind, you can easily and quickly improve your website’s bounce rate by making your site look professional, function properly, and publishing valuable content regularly.
Google Analytics also has a Behavior section that allows you to quickly see your top performing pages in regards to traffic volume.
Knowing which pages get the most traffic on your website is highly decisive as it helps you understand what your audience honestly respond to. If you publish different types of content on your site, this is when you can start to analyze what content type is working, and post more of those materials in the future.
However, traffic numbers aren’t the only way you can discover your “top performing” pages.
You can also look at the total number of social shares for a page, which is an indication of a high-quality article. Google Analytics doesn’t have this tool. However, there are plenty of other tools and WordPress plugins that displays this information, such as Social Metrics Pro.
Once you know which content is popular with your audience, the next step becomes even more straightforward: publish more of it!
The conversion ratio is another top critical sales performance metric, or perhaps the most vital sales performance parameter of all because it can have a massive impact on your website’s profitability – if you can only improve your conversion rate from 2% to 4%, you can double your profits, almost overnight!
Conversion rate indicates how well you motivate a traffic to take the desired ACTION.
Here’s how to calculate your conversion rate:
Conversion rate = total visitors to your site/number of conversions
A website may have different conversion “goals.” For instance, if you’re running an eCommerce store, then you might have these three conversion goals:
Understand this: if your website has high conversion rate, then whatever you’re doing is excellent. On the other hand, if it has a low conversion rate, either you are probably driving the wrong traffic, or your sales copy is weak, or your call to action isn’t powerful enough to drive conversions.
Because conversion rates can have a powerful effect on profits, you should spend your time and effort on optimizing your website for conversions, regularly. Even small changes can deliver a dramatic spike in your sales.
Annabelle Short is a writer in contentblossom and a seamstress of more than 5 years. Annabelle is a mother and she loves making crafts with her two children, Leo (age 9) and Michelle (age 11). When not working, she’s spending time with her family or putting pen to paper for her own personal pursuits.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]