Of all the demands on customer experience, nothing is more important than how fast a seller can give a buyer what they want, Loretta Faluade of PROS writes.

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Loretta Faluade

Technology has redefined brand loyalty. Regardless of whether your business is B2B or B2C, ‘best-in-class’ products are no longer the singular, sure-fire way to win customers. In fact, if your strategy to win is based on the concept of selling the best product, you’re already well on your way to losing.

Time is the new currency, and buyers have an extremely low tolerance for people, things, even vendors, who waste their time.

Instead, the recipe for winning lies in focusing on total customer experience. According to management consulting firm PwC, customers are willing to pay up to a 16% premium on products and services for better customer experience, while 32% will stop doing business with a brand after one bad experience. Customer experience is the golden key that can increase revenue by over 75% within 36 months, according to a report from Qualtrics and Temkin Group.

The top five characteristics that define good customer experience are:

  1. Speed—How fast can I get what I need from this vendor?
  2. Ease of use —How easy is it to interact with this vendor and use their products?
  3. Accessibility—How accessible and responsive is this vendor?
  4. Transparency—Can I—s find what I am looking for on my own or do I need to call a rep from the company most times than not?
  5. Personalization—Does this vendor understand my business, and can they provide me with the right products to solve my challenges

The greatest of these is speed. Today, time is the new currency, and buyers have an extremely low tolerance for people, things, even vendors, who waste their time. Unfortunately, the majority of executives feel that salespeople aren’t fully prepared. According to CSO insights, sales professionals spend only 20% of their time preparing for customer calls and interactions.  

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In the same way that job candidates do not go into an interview unprepared, sales professionals should spend time understanding the customer, their business and their challenges before every meeting. Every meeting is a job interview that can move you closer towards a sales win. More importantly, sales professionals must be responsive to the requested information in a timely manner.

Responsiveness gives you the advantage and a study by insidesales.com found that 50% of buyers choose the vendor that responds first. So what are some ways to harness the power of time and use it to your advantage?

Here are three effective ways:

1—By investing in tools that eliminate or minimize manual tasks and accelerate sales responsiveness

You want to accelerate responsiveness, but to do this, first, you must look at your sales cycle and eliminate or automate tasks that bog down salespeople and hinder their responsiveness. It’s scary to see that salespeople spend a significant portion of their day on administrative tasks and only 34% of their time selling, according to a HubSport Research survey.

Automate as many of these mundane, non-essential tasks that end up taking time away from selling. There are many sales tools out on the market but before investing in one, first, identify the biggest bottleneck facing your sales team. For some, it might be account management for others the quoting process. Tackle this hurdle and give your sales team the tools they need to be responsive.

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2—By investing in AI solutions

Artificial intelligence, or AI, may be a popular buzzword in the industry, but it’s providing tangible benefits that are transforming many industries today.

The primary purpose of AI is to enable machines to function in an intelligent manner, whether it’s doing simple tasks such as home automation to more complicated tasks such as detecting early signs of breast cancer. AI solutions can save valuable sales time. For example, with AI, sales teams can get insights about the customers or insights into customer preference, all without having to spend hours sifting over customer profiles, transactional history, etc.

AI solutions also have the ability to provide tailored recommendations to salespeople, enabling them to, in turn, personalize the experiences they deliver to customers. This is the ultimate differentiator.

3—By investing in your ecommerce website

Today, the first interaction a prospect has with your brand is your website. What do they see? Are they able to easily understand how your products can help them solve their needs? How long do they spend on your site? Can they make a purchase or get a trial of your products or services?

Something as simple as how long it takes a page to load can be the difference between a new lead and a lost prospect. According to Google, more than half of web traffic comes from mobile sites, yet the average time it takes a website to load is 15 seconds. 53% of mobile site visitors will leave a page that takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Inferior mobile experiences can be correlated to the aphorism and principle that time is money so save your buyers time by making it easy for them to find what they need on your website.

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Product loyalty is dead, but experience loyalty is alive and thriving. Vendors that will win are those that can deliver the fast and personalized experiences that their buyers are looking for.

It won’t be acceptable to only accelerate your sales teams to keep up with buyers’ demands, you must also invest in accelerating the buying experience on your ecommerce channel. Time is the new currency, and time can also be your greatest asset. Harness the power of time and use it in your favor.

Loretta Faluade is a solution strategy director at PROS, a provider of AI-powered applications designed to help companies sell in the digital economy. Prior to PROS, she was a sales and business development manager at Texas Instruments.

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