SalesTechStar Interview with Chris Buttenham, Group Product Manager at Seismic
What can help B2B brands build better after-sales experiences? Chris Buttenham, Group Product Manager at Seismic shares some best practices:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Chris, tell us more about your journey through the years and your role at Seismic…
I very much stumbled into my role at Seismic! I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life, and that is the best way to describe me. I registered my first company, TMP Media, at the age of 15. But after falling out of love with digital marketing, I became obsessed with “knowledge management.” When I was 22, I met my soon-to-be co-founder, Alex Sopinka, and together we started OneBase, a company focused on onboarding wiki software – which ultimately led to the founding of the company “Obie.” In addition to these entrepreneurial feats at a young age, I was also the youngest founder accepted into Batch 20 at 500 Startups.
In 2021, Obie was acquired by Lessonly which was then later acquired by Seismic – leading me to my current role as Group Product Manager at Seismic.
How can sales and after sales teams today, prepare and create better customer journeys and, especially, better efforts to address common questions across the buying journey and post sales journey?
A study from McKinsey and Company found that revenue teams actually waste 20% of their time looking for answers to help them close deals and support customers. To put that into perspective, that’s an entire day’s worth of work that could be used engaging customers and prospects – all wasted.
To ease this problem, sales enablement teams work hard to ramp team members and equip them with the right information to support deals and customers. But, based on my time working with sales organizations, I find these efforts tend to focus primarily on readiness content – like proactive learning and training – which is highly necessary. However, this leaves a gap for bite-sized enablement. Think: answers to frequently asked questions that you need urgently while in a customer meeting.
As organizations grow and develop, they naturally collect a wide array of information that’s found across disparate systems, documents, and with different employees. Information lives virtually anywhere, and it’s time-consuming to look for the right answers. Creating a space where employees begin to document these answers in a more consumable and accessible way is a great process to establish – especially for the post-sales team, as they are more removed from the initial customer engagement.
It’s made even better if teams can crowdsource information about the customers’ journey from peers and folks on the front lines.
For brands who build learning and training content to help users with their product journeys, what best practices or lags should teams keep in mind to build the right kind of go-to reference material and to make it easier for users to navigate through it?
In today’s digital landscape, where consumers seek not just products but also knowledge and guidance, crafting effective learning and training content has become paramount for brands to enhance user product journeys. To develop the right kind of go-to reference material that facilitates seamless user navigation, teams must adhere to a set of best practices while remaining vigilant about potential pitfalls.
First and foremost, adopting a user-centric approach is foundational principle. By thoroughly understanding the needs, preferences, and learning styles of their target audience, brands can tailor content to address specific pain points and cater to varying levels of expertise. Structuring the material logically with clear learning objectives ensures that users can easily identify and extract the information most relevant to their needs, streamlining their learning experience.
As products evolve, failing to refresh the content accordingly leads to inaccuracies, leaving users frustrated. Additionally, interactivity should not be overlooked. Content that lacks engagement tools might fail to hold users’ attention and hinder the learning process. These pitfalls underscore the importance of constant feedback loops and adaptation, enabling teams to refine their approach based on real-time user responses. By striking a balance between these best practices and vigilant avoidance of potential shortcomings, brands can create reference materials that empower users to navigate their product journeys with confidence and ease.
Can you talk about some of the leading brands you’ve come across who have stood out for their post sales journeys and what teams in B2B can use as takeaways basis these references?
In my experience, the brands most successful with their post-sales motions have a strong willingness and desire to crowdsource learnings from the field to inform future enablement materials. One of my customers famously said “if 50 CSMs say it’s a good answer, it probably is.” Too often enablement can become prescriptive and top down. It’s important to bring learnings in from the field and democratize the process. Organizations such as GitLab are on the extreme end of the spectrum here, but they act as a glowing example of a fully democratized, documentation-first culture.
If you could suggest five ways for B2B teams to use AI and salestech optimization to drive this post sales experience factor, what would you suggest?
As B2B companies become more data-driven and leverage new technologies in the sales process, they will begin to see changes in how they engage with prospects and will be able to make greater impacts on the bottom-line. But many organizations still have gaps in their customer experience strategy or are slow to adapt to the rapidly evolving sales environment.
As such, I recommend businesses assess each of the follow areas of their sales programs:
1. Customize the sales process
A one-size-fits-all approach to content and strategy is no longer an appropriate tactic. Sales reps must know who they are talking to, where the prospect is in the sales cycle, and how a buyer progresses through their journey. Identify the prospect’s persona, the context of their pain points, and how this information can help to tailor the purchase process.
Yet, top sellers spend an average of six hours each week researching their prospects – which is simply not sustainable. By introducing an AI-powered sales enablement tool into the mix, customization is scalable. The technology recommends content based on a prospect’s stage in the sales process, helping to provide that personalized experience that buyers demand. Dashboards offer insight into real-time behaviors and into what prospects are looking for so that sales can engage each individual with relevant information.
2. Adopt customer-centric initiatives
A customer-centric strategy represents a shift from focusing on the sales reps’ needs to focusing on the customers’ needs. This shift fundamentally changes the game for sales reps who can no longer use a generic pitch to promote the product. Top salespeople are shifting to becoming trusted advisors. With a customer-centric mindset, sales reps are looking to identify the prospect’s pain point or challenge and then determine how their product is the solution, i.e. selling on value rather than on price. This type of ‘outcome model’ drives results for the prospect (by solving their problem) and for the sales rep (by generating revenue).
To execute a customer-centric strategy, sales reps must proactively build trusting customer relationships. But customers are increasingly demonstrating their willingness to engage in a relationship that’s more than transactional. Businesses must add value to every engagement so that sellers can effectively advance the customer to the next phase in the purchase process. Depending on their stage, this value could be in the form of content such as research reports, product information and data sheets, case studies, or even ROI calculators. A sales enablement tool can help to automate this workflow, increasing both productivity and efficiency.
3. Prioritize post-purchase engagement
Many companies assume their buyers automatically re-enter the sales funnel and start the shopping process all over again, but this is a costly mistake. Post-purchase engagement allows customers to skip certain parts of the sales funnel, bringing them back to a company’s website to buy again. With a connected salestech stack, sellers have quick, easy access to each point of buyer engagement and can identify where to re-engage in the future.
4. Anticipate customer behavior
As sales cycles become more complex, sales efficiency and sales effectiveness are more important than ever. Today, deal cycles consist of more touch points with more stakeholders who are more informed. This is no different in the post-sales process. Businesses should be using predictive analytics to anticipate, understand, and influence the future directions of customer needs and behaviors – including those who have already made a purchase. This enables sales reps to be more proactive and sell smarter.
B2B organizations must have the tooling in place to collect trusted, accurate, and meaningful information. Sales enablement tools can anticipate the outcome of a particular sales situation and proactively recommend content and selling strategies based on real-time data, best practices, and similar scenarios.
5. Enable sales and success teams
Sales training ensures that every seller has the skills they need to contribute to the team and grow their career. But sales coaching up-levels those initiatives by providing continuous support and ensuring sales reps can strengthen areas of weakness and meet their personal and team goals.
By equipping teams with the right content, sellers have the tools to tell the story of their product and how it can help buyers solve their most pressing challenges. Ensuring that sellers have access to the most recent, brand-compliant content enables them to create meaningful experiences for their customers. Sales enablement software helps deliver that content, empowering enablement teams to align content with the buyer journey.
Episode 180: Visual Storytelling Best Practices with Andrew Fingerman, CEO of PhotoShelter
Episode 179: The Impact of Al in Sales and Marketing with Ketan Karkhanis, EVP & GM, Sales Cloud, Salesforce
Episode 178: RevOps and Revenue Generation Best Practices with Derrick Herbst, Director-Business Transformation at Conga