The Seller’s Process Or Journey
Yes, you read it correctly. The title of this post is the Seller’s Process. I’m not trying to play word games, but rather suggest that we (sellers) need to dramatically shift our points of view about how we engage prospects and customers (buyers), along with that, change the words we use to describe the process.
Let me explain what I mean by starting with the customer–which is where everything really should start.
There are thousands of post, articles, books glibly talking about the buying process, the buyer’s journey, the customer journey. Rightfully, a lot of the discussion is about the entire journey or process–from very early education, awareness, nurturing, problem identification, commitment to change, need development, assessment of alternatives, and so forth. This perspective is really useful because it forces us to look at the process in its totality, not just segments of the process.
We don’t see any literature that defines the buying process as starting with Procurement. Usually that comes much later in the journey, and appropriately so, we look at all the things, constituencies, drivers, and so forth that the customer goes through in their journey or process. We recognize that journey may be Squishy (thank you Hank Barnes!). That the journey is actually a collection of various activity streams they go through. That there are different levels of engagement, differing concerns, different objectives for each of those activity streams. Different people, in different functions are engaged at various points in the buyer’s journey. They come in, exit for a while, come back in, based on the activity or workflow in their buying process.
So very appropriately, we seem to have a very holistic view of the buying process/customer journey. It makes a huge amount of sense and, hopefully, drives the right levels of engagement and activity from our side.
When we get to our side, rather than looking at the Seller’s Process or Journey, we chop it up. Crazily, rather than looking at it holistically, we look at it organizationally, separating it into at least marketing and sales (and we may toss in a bit of e-commerce, channel, omnichannel perspectives as well). We build our “processes” based on our functional perspectives and responsibilities, not based on an activity or workflow point of view.
Consequently, we define a marketing process, “this is the stuff we in marketing are responsible for and what we do.” We define a sales process (distinct from the seller’s process), “this is the stuff we in sales are responsible for and what we do.” The connection between the two are tenuous, at best. We each tend to think things would be better if the other group just did their jobs.
We’re caught with two divergent perspectives–from the buyer’s side, we look at it as a holistic work or activity flow, involving many people in different functions and roles. From the seller’s side, we define the roles, responsibilities, processes, and activities organizationally or by the function in which we work..
Is there any wonder why we struggle to align what we as Seller’s do with the Buyer’s Process or Journey? We’re talking apples and oranges. It’s impossible to align these perspectives because they are based on different principles.
Which is why we need to start thinking about the Seller’s Process or journey. The Seller’s Process is not a functional or organizational view of how we engage the customer in their Journey. Rather it’s a holistic view of how our company will engage and align with the customer through their Squishy process. It’s an activity or workflow view that aligns the resources best equipped to do those activities with the customers who are doing similar activities in their workflow.
If we start thinking of the Seller’s Process/Journey and how we align with the Buyer’s Process/Journey, our perspective changes. We focus on activity streams and workflows first–making sure ours is aligned with the customers’. Then we look at who needs to be involved in each–from a Seller’s perspective, and if we are helping facilitate the Buyer’s Process, we help them identify the stakeholders that need to be involved in their activity streams.
I’m as guilty as everyone else in my mistaken view of things. I’ve waxed on about the Customer Journey–again looking at workflow. But then I have endless posts on the Sales Process, Marketing Process and a few on Marketing/Sales Alignment. But we won’t be successful unless we align our perspectives with the customer.
So I’m going to try to focus on the Seller’s Process/Journey–not marketing, not sales, but a holistic view of how our organization aligns work and activity flow most effectively with customers. Yes, I know I’ll slip–please remind me when I do.
Why don’t you try the same? Change your perspective, the simple shift to Seller’s Process opens a new perspective in how we effectively engage our customers.
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