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Removing Friction for the B2B Buyer Journey
Launching a fantastic product is only half the battle for sustaining a healthy business— gaining new customers and keeping them engaged is crucial to long-term growth. The hard truth is, people are unlikely to buy from you the more annoyed they feel during the process. You know that feeling when you have to rummage for your credit card and input it, only to have the screen refresh halfway through? That’s called friction, and whenever friction comes up during the B2B buyer journey, it can cause people to abandon their purchase.
Even prominent brands face challenges removing friction from their B2B buyer journeys. Discovering the cause of conflict and where it occurs in the sales process is essential to reducing these moments of frustration to create a smooth and compelling pathway.
Eliminating friction is central to fine-tuning your sales process. Take the statistics from this Salesforce study that found 80% of customers rated their experience with the company as high as the actual product or service they were buying. Review the purchase experience your prospects undergo to find ways to improve. Here’s what to look for.
Friction points in B2B sales
Here are some of the familiar places B2B customers experience friction and what you can do about it.
Some sales scoring will be necessary for your team to know how to deploy its resources best. But sometimes, sales scoring can be more of a hindrance than a help. This is especially relevant if you’re selling a product that has multiple price points. Potential customers on the lower end might want to jump straight to a demo (or even a purchase) instead of a sales call. Adding an extra touchpoint could turn these potential customers off.
Increasingly, we see the rise of the “product qualified lead.” This is a person who has used your product through a free trial or freemium version and is ready to move forward with a self-serve purchase. This prospect might appreciate more in-depth training on your product to ensure they are taking advantage of its capabilities, but they would likely balk at the friction of added sales calls and demos.
Signatures and forms
If you’re still asking prospective customers to print, sign, and scan a form, this is a significant area of friction that you can immediately resolve.
First, start by reducing the questions you ask on forms — get just the basics. You can always collect more information from your customers as the relationship evolves. When you can offer auto-populating forms, or, if possible, reduce the number of forms you require. One way to do this: if your prospect has already entered their information to obtain gated content, use that information later in the sales process to identify them as a current lead and eliminate the need to continue filling out forms on your site.
Digitize your signing process so prospects can sign a contract from any device. Then, have a streamlined approach to payments that requires very little work from your customers.
Understand key players
The more people you communicate with on your prospect’s side, the greater chance for friction. As more voices get involved, your prospects will have to integrate more opinions, setting more meetings and discussion time, which can drain their resources (and patience), eventually stalling the project.
Sure, you can’t very well limit the number of people that get pulled into the project on your prospect’s side. But, you can strategically help to keep the process flowing.
- Set expectations upfront: At the beginning of the sales process, ask how many people are typically involved in decisions on this team and who will have the final say.
- What are the timelines: It’s helpful to know how fast your prospect will be making a decision and if any roadblocks could hamper the progress of your sale. Anticipating challenges can help you develop a solution on your end before they occur; that way, you don’t extend the timeline further.
- How is a consensus arrived at: Knowing how decisions are made on your prospect’s side can help you arm them with the suitable materials to move forward. They could require presentations, case studies, or statistics — if you have these readily available, this reduces friction on their side while they wait.
Too many new contacts
You probably have more than one person on your side who will manage the sales process. Maybe you have someone who typically does prospecting, then a person to lead demos, followed by an account manager who will be introduced toward the end of the sale. Whatever your process is, make sure it’s not annoying or confusing to your potential B2B customer.
First, use a central customer relationship management system to keep contact information and notes available for everyone on your team to see. This prevents you from having to ask a prospect to repeat basic information.
Then, make sure your customer understands why new people from your team are added to calls or emails. Introduce them (at the appropriate stage in the sales journey) and explain their role. Transform what can easily be an awkward transition into an opportunity to build trust, letting your prospects know that your entire team is ready to support them and their goals.
Remember: B2B buyers are people.
B2B buyers are humans, just like the rest of us. It’s easy to think of the B2B landscape as a commercialized, robotic wasteland. But it’s full of actual humans with tangible goals. These can range from personal goals to career goals. Just like you, they’re trying to achieve something within their company — and with their lives. Use this empathy as you approach the B2B selling process to help you find ways to make it easy to facilitate their goals. Life is hard enough already without signing, scanning, and inputting your information into forms. Making things just a little bit easier goes a long way.