This is where signatures are placed and money changes hands. When I was in the satellite business, we needed to buy launch insurance for a geostationary satellite. It covered the few minutes it would take to get the satellite into orbit…. just a little bit longer than you can hold your breath hoping that the ten-year, hundred-million-dollar bit of gear at the top doesn’t get blown up. The insurance company came in to the signing meeting with the contracts. Each copy of the contract was in a folder – not any old plain manila folder. These were matched high quality Corinthian leather bound documents worthy of a Magna Carta or Declaration of Independence. When it came time to sign, you felt you were making history.
While signing on the dotted line may seem anticlimactic to the seller, for the buyer it’s the start of the ownership journey. It can be a big deal and your re-seller needs to respect this. Some decisions are life changing major events (buying a house, getting married). Some are significant investments upon which someone’s career hinges (see satellite insurance above). Still others are relatively small, tactical purchases. Each buyer’s decision to purchase should be shown appropriate respect.
If in the eyes of the buyer, the reseller shifts from sucking-up to celebration of ‘their win’, the buyer feels used and may describe the reseller as pushy. Not great for customer satisfaction or referrals. In many ways, it is a first peek into the ‘back office’ of the reseller’s operation – their true values. This first look inside must meet the expectations of the buyer. A nervous buyer may balk and walk away at any inconsistency found here.
If your resellers’ operations people do not understand the end-to-end customer journey, there will be inconsistencies. If their sales people are winging it and not integrating themselves into the end-to-end process – again there will be problems. If the documentation is all about the reseller, they have it backwards. It should be about the buyer first and the reseller second; hey – it’s the buyer’s journey, right?
Work with your resellers to map out the buyer’s journey – what are they thinking at each step? And stress that the reseller continues to be responsible for managing that journey until the client is satisfied.Ask your resellers what documentation they provide to close the deal; is it anunformatted outlook email, or an obscurely worded QuickBooks invoice? A better idea is to provide them with high quality templates that reflect the stature of the transaction and meet the buyer’s expectations. Ensure that the resellers ‘celebrate with’ the client – it's a good moment for both parties.
By engineering this critical step in the buyer’s journey, the reseller will have fewer prospects balk at signing. Clients will enjoy the buying experience and will be much more likely to refer new clients. And the next events on their journey will be set up nicely. I am pleased to say that the insurance we bought for our satellite worked perfectly. As buyers, we all held our breath for the prescribed length of time and exhaled when the satellite reached orbit – all the time knowing that we would at least get the money to try again if it blew up. Job done. The insurers, on the other hand, also held their breath for the prescribed length of time, hoping it wouldn’t blow up so that they could keep the premium and not have to pay out hundreds of millions in claims. Same event different journeys.
Inking the Deal is the eighth in a series of posts on improving sales channel efficiency and flow. It follows Decision Point