Feedback Still MattersOct 26, 2023
By the DCMi Marketing Team
In the fast-paced world of sales, where every interaction is a chance to win or lose a customer, one crucial element often stands out as a game-changer: feedback. It's no secret that customer indecision can be a formidable obstacle for salespeople, but getting to the heart of “why” or “how” a sale was won or lost (due to indecision or otherwise) is an important part of the sales training process.
In this blog, we're going to explore a fundamental aspect of improving sales techniques that is often overlooked—the role of feedback. We'll delve into why feedback is essential for sales professionals and how it can be a potent tool in their arsenal to help them better understand and address customer indecision.
Collecting Customer Feedback
The most common type of feedback for a B2B salesperson comes directly from the customer; somebody who either bought a product or, in some cases, did not move ahead with a purchase. Following a purchase, or following a certain amount of time where a customer may be stuck in an indecision loop, many organizations that want to better understand customer-to-salesperson interactions send NPS (net promoter score) or CSAT (customer satisfaction) surveys. While survey responses have been on the decline, it’s still an important channel to collect crucial feedback from customers.
One way to get the most out of customer feedback is to create a regular system for survey deployment. While surveys can be sporadic in nature, it’s helpful to create a system for when they go out, how often they go out, and to whom they are sent. This will help businesses be able to evaluate feedback in a more systematic way. This creates some complexity, navigating internal people and obstacles in sending, and pinpointing the right person and timing within the buyer organization. But it can build a narrative that helps sales teams understand the details of what led to a sale (or, conversely, what contributed to its demise).
Win-Loss Analysis and Customer Indecision
One specific area of interest for most B2B sales teams is to conduct win-loss analysis. In order to understand what worked and what didn’t — and particularly if the signifiers of customer indecision played a role — win-loss analysis can help provide clarity. Was a sale won because of something unique or different the solution provides? Was the sale lost because of a lack of a feature, resource, or due to the competition having a better price? Or is there something deeper going on, where the sales experience, or the seller themselves, were seen as lacking from the buyer’s perspective? A well organized win-loss survey and feedback process will help unlock these questions, and improve overall interactions in the long run.
That said, win-loss analysis can only work if the sale is made or if the buyer communicates directly that they are no longer interested in the product. What can be challenging is when “losses” go uncategorized. In other words, there could be deals sitting in an organization’s CRM that have been marked as “closed lost”, because the buyer is stuck in indecision. Because of this, there could be a blind spot on what is driving the indecision.
Why does this happen and what can businesses do about it? One reason businesses sometimes struggle to understand indecision from stuck deals is because sellers and organizations feel protective of the buyer, no matter how cold that situations as become. The last thing a seller wants is to annoy a hesitant buyer by scaring them off with too many surveys.
There is, however, merit to creating a feedback loop to find out what might be driving indecision for buyers who are stuck or stalled. This type of outreach could unveil answers to questions the buyer isn’t sure how to ask, and allows the seller to figure out how they can help — including addressing if there is any FOMU (“fear of messing up”) involved in the indecision.
Action Businesses Can Take
It is imperative that the sales team engage cold deals to learn more about the indecision. The first step is for the business to pick a date range between when the buyer first engaged the sales team and when the business would like to consider the lead “closed lost”. For example, if a typical sale cycle is 90 days, then any deal older than 180 days sitting in the pipeline could be considered stalled or “cold”. We believe it’s fair game to seek feedback in that situation. Waiting 2x - 3x the length of your typical sales cycle will seem less disruptive, increasing the likelihood of getting a response.
Another method of collecting feedback is to go back through past deals that fell through — anywhere between 1 and 5 years, potentially — and survey those buyer’s to learn more about why the purchase never happened.
Last, it’s important for businesses to supply their sales team with training to feel comfortable asking for feedback in the moment, especially if the sale is lost. Salespeople should be asking for a phone call to get feedback from the buyer directly. It can also be a bridge to the next potential sale, showing the buyer that the salesperson is willing to learn, open to feedback, and empathetic to the buyer’s situation.
Gathering feedback isn't just a matter of choice; it's a strategic imperative. Whether you're connecting with customers in the midst of a transaction, after the deal has been sealed, or even when prospects seem to have stalled, taking action and seeking feedback is unequivocally better than inaction. Surprisingly, many companies inadvertently undermine themselves by exclusively surveying the buyers they've already won over, inadvertently perpetuating the perception of biased feedback. After all, if every piece of feedback is glowing, is it truly constructive? While we advocate for continuous engagement with customers throughout their journey, we want to underscore the significance of soliciting feedback from those who chose not to proceed with a purchase. The truth is that businesses simply aren't soliciting feedback from lost opportunities often enough, and therein lies a missed opportunity for growth and improvement.
Are you a B2B sales team looking for more ways to capitalize on the feedback you’re getting, or just not sure where to start? Please reach out to [email protected] to request a speaking engagement