Anyone who wants to succeed in B2B should know who Kristin Zhivago is. Two years ago, she published a highly informative book called “Roadmap to Revenue: How to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy.”This is the dream book for any B2B company that wants to close the gap between what it has to sell and what its customers are looking for.
Zhivago comes with great credentials. She’s effectively helped hundreds and hundreds of businesses learn from their successful sales to see how they can create new sales strategies from them. It’s no surprise, then, that “Roadmap to Revenue” strategically explores how you can lay out your customers’ buying processes and provide key support during each and every stage.
Say goodbye to marketing and selling techniques that waste money instead of make it. Say goodbye to buyers that just don’t get your products. It’s time for a new outlook.
Here are the most important takeaways from “Roadmap to Revenue.”
What is the “Roadmap to Revenue?”
Zhivago’s roadmap is a three-step plan that empowers businesses to sell the way their customers want to buy. It is broken down into three distinct parts: discover, debate and deploy.
The first rule of this step is to stop focusing on marketing or selling so much and instead strive to create a much more pleasant purchase for your customers. There are various ways of achieving this aim, according to Zhivago.
Interview: Interviews are very powerful because they let you inside the minds of either your customers or buyers. You should interview their current customers or buyers and then record these conversations, so that you can refer back to this information. Here are some resources to help you devise questions:
Conversation, Executive Summary, and Recommendations Report: These reports will show what customers wish to purchase and also how they want to purchase. Additional insights include how they view your services, company, products and website; trends they may see; their views on your competitors and how they’re utilizing technology when buying.
Distribute: Finally, after the reports are written, you should distribute them to your brain trust, which must be followed up by a Brainstorming and Planning Meeting.
Debate refers to reconciling any differences between what your customers desire and what you’re selling. This should be resolved in a two-day Brainstorming and Planning Meeting, the first day of which will include:
- Processing Customer Information: This simply includes evaluating, talking about and then prioritizing the information from customers.
- Identifying the Most Important Customer Issues: The most vital issues include what they want (think the critical characteristic , too), the manner in which they want to buy, problems that need solving, your B2B company’s advantages and disadvantages and any barriers to the sale.
- Keeping Your Promise: The promise your B2B company keeps when dealing with customers is your brand. Establish the nature of this promise to customers. Promises are kept by way of processes, products, people, policies and passion (the five Ps).
- Buying Category: Decide which buying category your products and services belong to, based on how much your buyers scrutinize your products or services before buying. The four levels are light, medium, heavy and intense scrutiny.
Deployment is when you put things into action. At this stage, you map out your customer’s buying process with the intention of supporting it at every step, and you create an action plan. Then, on day two of your Brainstorming and Planning Meeting, you create a:
Roadmap: Create a buying process roadmap for all of your products and services. Every roadmap should display the different stages of your customer’s buying process. This includes any concerns they have, actions they take, answers that satisfy them and the most effective tools to get these answers.
Revenue Growth Action Plan : Since the objective is to correct what’s wrong and improve, your B2B company must figure out what tools you need to create or actions to implement to support the customer’s buying process more efficiently.
Promise to Stay on the Roadmap: The last thing you want is to veer off the road…the roadmap to revenue, that is. Zhivago’s last chapter, Chapter 12, is entitled “How to Keep Your Company on the Road to Revenue.” This is potentially the most important chapter since it offers advice on how you can regularly make customer-centered and revenue-generating decisions.
The Levels of Scrutiny
Central to Zhivago’s book are the varying levels of scrutiny that your customers will apply to their buying process. It’s highly important that you understand and master these levels of scrutiny.
They’ll help you understand how your customer wants to buy to successfully sell to them. Then, you will create a buying process roadmap based on these different levels of scrutiny.
Light Scrutiny Explained
Products and services in light scrutiny are quite cheap, ranging from just one dollar to tens of dollars. Customers will only ask a few questions, and the buying process takes only minutes. Examples of purchases made in light scrutiny include food, basic hand tools, batteries and even small-commitment services such as dry cleaning.
Most of the time, customers will spot a low-scrutiny product or service when shopping for other things. Therefore, any good B2B company will put these items where they can be easily spotted. When the customer starts asking just a few questions about the product or service, your job is to answer them thoroughly (they shouldn’t be complicated at this stage). To encourage your customer to buy a low-scrutiny item, you should make it easy for them to buy it. For instance, provide a one-click shopping experience on your website with few web forms.
At this point, your customer can do one of two things: He buys the low-scrutiny product or service again because he used it and liked it, or he returns it. Any good B2B company will be on top of either customer response. If your customer buys the item again, make it easy for him to do so by remembering his preferences or granting him a coupon. If your customer returns the product, make sure your company is easy to get in touch with, and you resolve the issues efficiently.
Medium Scrutiny Explained
Products and services in the medium scrutiny buying process cost between tens and hundreds of dollars, and your customers ask between five and 20 questions. This buying process can last minutes or hours. Examples of products and services that fall into this buying category include appliances, clothes, office equipment, cheaper software and services like jewelry repair and hair cutting.
Here, your customer can actively go looking for your products and services, probably by search engine, or just happen upon your product while shopping for something else. Your job will still be to attract buyers by creating great products or services that are easy to locate.
Before buying—if he decides to buy—your customer will first try your product on or out. Your job must be to make this easy for the customer by, for example, displaying a highly visible return policy on your site and including reviews and ratings for products on your site.
Making the buying process easy for your customers encourages them to buy. You can do that by simplifying the checkout process, or storing their information so they don't have to fill them out again the next time.
If your customer goes ahead with the purchase, you should make it easy for them to buy again. In this case, your response must be to make it easy for said customer to buy from you once more. You can do this by publishing customer reviews on your site and also making it simple to reorder products. If, on the other hand, your customer returns the product, make it easy for him to contact you, and correct the situation to make him happy.
Heavy Scrutiny Explained
During the heavy scrutiny buying process, your customer will both search for and research your products and services. He’ll be spending between thousands and millions of dollars, so he wants to evade possible buyer’s remorse. Examples include houses, cars and complicated medical services.
Responding to these search and research effort is the same as responding to anything else: create awesome products and services that your customers can easily find. When the customer asks questions in this buying process, he’ll ask between 25 and 50-plus questions, in addition to analyzing his options. Therefore, besides answering his questions, you have to also help him weigh his different options.
Your customers will then weigh your solution against that of your competitors'. It's now up to you to impress the decision makers during your web conference call.
Your customer still has a need to test your product before committing to it. Your salespeople have to provide support to customers by answering questions and making their testing and trial stage easy. At this point, the customer makes his decision to choose your solution and signs the contract. He’ll pay either half or full price. Your response must be to guide your customer through the contract process.
Intense Scrutiny Explained
The intense scrutiny buying process involves products or services between many thousands to billions of dollars, 25 to 50-plus questions from the customer and lasts weeks, months or years. Examples include professional consulting services and big-scale development projects. Essentially, the intense scrutiny process is everything you and your customer encountered in the heavy scrutiny buying process, but you also “get married,” so to speak.
Because so much money is at stake, your customer will invest a great deal of time researching his options, which includes absorbing white papers, blogs, discussion groups and websites. Your job is still to make sure your product or service is easy to find and that there’s lots of information available about it
The customer’s going to ask dozens of questions, and you’ll still have to answer them thoroughly and help him weigh various options. As in the heavy scrutiny process, he’ll also discuss what he’s learned about your products with others on the decision-making team; you should do your best to help these discussions.
If the customer decides to go with your solution, he’ll still have to study your proposals and plans for implementing the solution. Again, your customer will want to test the product or service that you’re selling, and it’s up to you to arrange any trials the customer asks for. If you’re lucky, the customer will finally choose your B2B company, sign the contract and then pay either a part of or the full price.
This is where you should guide your customer through the contract process. Make sure to answer all of his final questions and have an implementation team ready to go once the contract is signed.
At last, work starts on implementing the customer’s product or service, but your customer will still always continue to evaluate your service. All you have to do now is keep the client happy, learn more about what he thought of the buying process and use that information to sell more!
The most significant takeaway from Zhivago’s book is that your customers buy products in one of four buying processes: light, medium, heavy and intense scrutiny. All of these buying categories are uniquely different, which is why you have to tailor your selling approach to each process individually. In other words, you have to sell to your customers how they want to buy, based on their level of scrutiny.
If you don’t do this, you risk losing sales, revenue and customers. Your brand will suffer because you will develop a bad reputation for not taking care of your customers, and that is the last thing that any B2B company wants. Remember to always follow the roadmap to revenue, and you’ll do well in your business dealings.