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Sales organizations should double down on making sure sales reps go above and beyond in providing great customer experiences, according to “Start Your Winning Streak: 7 Lessons for the Modern B2B Sales Leader,” a new study from PeopleMetrics.

The research found that customers’ Net Promoter Scores increased from 37 to 51 (on a 100-point scale) when their salespeople went above and beyond. NPS is a numerical representation of how likely customers are to recommend a product to a friends or colleagues, and is calculated by subtracting the number of unhappy customers (those who rate a product a 60 or below) from happy customers (those who rate a product 90 or above). An NPS above 0 indicates that a company has more happy than unhappy customers, and an NPS above 50 is considered excellent.

But what does it mean to go "above and beyond?" Survey respondents who gave this label to their sales rep identified the following four characteristics:

  • Communication: The rep had strong listening skills, sent the appropriate amount of correspondence, was responsive to the prospect, and provided thorough explanations of the product.
  • Personalization: The rep provided personalized solutions and demonstrations.
  • Attitude: The rep was welcoming, interested, authentic, and candid.
  • Thoughtfulness: The rep attended the prospect’s company events, sent thank-you cards, and entertained stakeholders.

And reps who delight customers can tap into the benefits of the “champion cycle,” the process by which existing customers’ referrals create even more leads and customers for a product or service provider.

"Once the work begins under the new contract, buyers who have experienced extra effort during the sales cycle are more engaged clients," the study report explained. "They are also more likely to say they love working with the company, and more likely to be promoters of the company to others by spreading positive word-of-mouth."

In an age where 78% of B2B buyers begin purchasing decisions by asking for network referrals and 76% of successful vendors were referred, according to the data, the importance of having customers who act as vendor spokespeople can’t be understated.

In addition, salespeople who go "above and beyond" tend to lead “high-value meetings,” according to the study, and the quality of meetings correlates with larger deals. Buyers who rated meetings with a “5” value spent $100,000 more on average per contract than buyers who rated meetings with a “4” value. Of the buyers who experienced high-value meetings, 70% became customers and evangelists for their vendors’ products.

The reach of a sales meeting or engagement extends far beyond its implications for the current month or quarter. If sales reps build the right foundation, they can find themselves looking at multiple future referrals, and an ever-expanding network of customer advocates.

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Originally published Jun 9, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

Topics:

Sales Statistics