Reflecting the Customer in the Sales Organization

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Case Summary

The client was the financial and risk division of a top-tier, $13 billion leader of the financial software market. Customers that used their solutions knew more and made smarter decisions about the companies in which they invested – through more accurate analytics and valuation, financial news, and information on cross-asset class indices. The company touched every facet of the global financial markets: commodities, equities, fixed income, foreign exchange, hedge funds, investment banking, investment management, research and trading, venture capital and private equity, and emerging markets. The client felt that it had lost sight of the customer, and engaged Symmetrics Group to identify the key customer types and re-align its sales approaches.

Business Challenge

The client’s customers ran the gamut, from multiple divisions at global, bulge bracket banks to individuals that ran small wealth management shops. Customers typically interacted with 3-4 different client salespeople, with roles overlapping during the relationship. The volume of customers and often-ambiguous nature of different sales responsibilities resulted in the client approaching customers in a product-centric manner, only calling on customers when they had something to sell. Sales teams needed to establish a relationship with their customer again by understanding the decision-makers and influencers, their needs, pain points, motivations, and buying behavior. Our client then needed to re-align its selling processes to those of the customer, with the ultimate goal of becoming a trusted adviser to the customer. 

Symmetrics Group Approach

  • Customer Personas and Buying Journey: The Symmetrics Group approach was heavily qualitative, built on a series of interviews with both sales people and customers. These frank, lengthy conversations got to the heart of the customer: what were decision-makers thinking throughout the sales process? How did their incentive structure impact their actions? What internal political and economic forces played a role? Who else did they consult during the buying process? How was the client responding to their needs, spoken and unspoken?
  • Sales Process:The client’s formal, institutionalized sales process had been created from the inside-out, not leveraging the customer’s own actions taken during the decision-making process. Using the sales and customer interviews, Symmetrics Group identified the different decision paths taken by the various customer types.

Results

Symmetrics Group synthesized the sales and customer interviews into five distinct Customer Personas, their purchasing influences, buying triggers, keys to gaining preference, resources tapped during the decision process, and major sensitivities. We also created a Top Sales Performer Profile, an aspirational archetype that sales teams could use for reference throughout the customer relationship.

The Personas were used to document a fluid Buyer’s Journey, segmented by customer type and highlighted by the customer’s major needs and motivations along each stage of the journey. Sales teams are now able to better tailor and time their communications, value propositions, sales presentations, and offerings using the customer insight that the Journey offered.

Additionally, the Personas and Buyer’s Journey have been leveraged to update the client’s formal sales process. Integrating the voice of the customer into each stage of the sales process was critical to transforming the sales teams to trusted advisors that would ultimately collaborate with customers in strategic business planning.

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