Your customers spend much less time with sellers than you may think. Gartner research shows that B2B customers spend only 17% of their buying journey engaging with prospective suppliers. So in practice, if your customer considers three suppliers throughout their buying journey, then they may spend only 5% to 6% of total purchase time with your selling team.
As a result, many sellers to adjust their approach to make the most of these limited interactions. Your sellers must help their buyers navigate large quantities of quality information and make decisions confidently. Gartner calls this approach sense making. Your best sellers are already doing this, though they may not be explicitly aware.
Why Sense Makers Succeed
Sellers who rely on sense making overcome buyer skepticism and build buyer confidence much better than others. They acknowledge competing solutions and avoid simply telling customers what to think about their options. And the end result isn’t just about increased sales effectiveness. It’s about helping the buyer achieve a high level of confidence in their purchase so that they are ready to do so again.
Gartner clients can learn more about sense making at Redefining the High-Performing Seller for the Information Era.
How Call Plans Fit In
If you are building sense maker skills within your selling teams, your challenge is to foster these behaviors with every customer interaction. One great way to do this is through call planning.
Of course, call planning isn’t a new idea; its benefits are widely recognized. A good call plan allows the deal team to:
- Gain clarity on the goals of the call and the messages to be delivered
- Draw up an agenda and define the roles of each deal team participant
- Align on the customer’s progress through the buyer’s journey and what key milestones remain
- Identify risks associated with the prospective account and agree on how to mitigate those risks during the call
- Anticipate buyer questions and objections
- Provide the sales manager with a summary of preparations for pre-call feedback and coaching
By building key steps into your call planning process, you can embed sense making behaviors directly into your sellers’ routine. In addition to your existing template, your call plan should include preparation habits we’ve observed specifically in sense makers. Augment your call plan template with these sense maker ingredients:
As you train your sales managers to instill sense making within their teams, call plans provide them a way to drive the change. As long as the call planning discipline is maintained, managers can work with each seller and deal team to further reinforce desired behaviors.