Description

Is your Sales Machine functioning Digitally and Virtually? Assess it right now!

We give our clients an in-depth view of the strengths, benchmarks and weaknesses in their entire sales process and buying journey and and support them as they make major transitions from product to software, software to services or build funnels for entirely new platforms such as Azure. Building ‚In the Moment‘ Customer Buying Experience excellence.

We open the lid on a sales process that too many businesses leave to chance: the buyer’s journey. We assess +160 elements of your specific buyer’s journey, providing feedback and recommendations for improvements based on +550 assessments completed globally.

Using a carefully constructed persona, we reveal how a buyer experiences your sales offer. The Sales Journey Assessment drills down into every relevant detail, including how calls, emails, and website visits are all perceived leading to proposal development and a sale.

Why do you need this programme?

We’ve analysed hundreds of sales journeys worldwide. Though each buying experience is assessed objectively for relevant results, we’ve identified some commonalities in the business process when companies are losing sales:

  • website is not selling nor relevant to that particular buyer
  • solution overview is not clear or benefits are not understandable, sales strategy is focused on ‘box moving’ mentality vs. a consultative sale, or there is awkward automation processes that are more robotic than intuitive
  • dated technology.

Companies we have assessed:

  • stop losing prospects for unknown reasons
  • increase revenues and profits
  • can differentiate themselves in Customer Experience Excellence.

Measure your buying process at the moment that matters – when a buyer says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to purchasing.

  • This was a great project. And the Secret Shopper title is certainly correct. The person who handled most of the incoming communications from the Secret Shopper never noticed anything unusual!

    Emile Stam

    Marketing & Communication Manager — Open Line

The Optimize Program exercise accelerates sales

Microsoft’s Optimize Program is a Secret Shopper service that reveals exactly how a prospective customer experiences a business offering. It uses a 160 point assessment of the customer journey and employs a very carefully constructed persona. Secret Shopper is the vehicle for a granular, detailed inspection of how calls, emails, website visits and sales proposals are perceived by a typical customer. It means inviting a trusted and competent third party to carry out a no-holds barred systematic analysis of how a chain of technologies, services and people all appear to the outside world.

Getting good value out of sharp observations

Innovative businesses stay ahead by embracing the very latest thinking. That requires a degree of courage. After all, the best ideas often demand the biggest changes. So getting a clear and honest assessment of how a sales process works in practice sounded like a great deal for Open Line a growing European business.

Open Line is a Dutch cloud services business with customers across the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. These customers all have one thing in common. They need a cloud services provider they can trust. Confidentiality matters enormously to Open Line. More than a quarter of its customers come from the healthcare sector where client confidentiality is at the core of their service. So Open Line must have both a product offering and a mode of operation that leaves no room for doubt.

  • This was a great project. And the Secret Shopper title is certainly correct. The person who handled most of the incoming communications from the Secret Shopper never noticed anything unusual!

    Emile Stam

    Marketing & Communication Manager — Open Line

Emile Stam, Marketing and Communications Manager at Open Line, recalls the decision to call in the Secret Shopper with some amusement. “This was a great project. And the Secret Shopper title is certainly correct. The person who handled most of the incoming communications from the Secret Shopper never noticed anything unusual!”

Apart from living up to its name, what did the Secret Shopper teach Open Line? “It brought about major changes and minor changes. But some of the little observations had a big impact. For instance, one of the things we were concerned about was the ability of customers to find their way to us over the Internet.” Open Line needed a hook, one simple phrase that would guide a potential customer right to the company. Secret Shopper spelt out the right words. These were ‘cloud-focused hybrid provider’, a term that captures people who are searching around the whole technology ecosystem of the cloud.

Changing the way a business is heard

But this simple phrase was just the start. Secret Shopper demonstrated to Stam that Open Line’s entire website was starting off on the wrong foot. It was a highly technical introduction to the company and that was not working for many visitors. “Secret Shopper gave us a new tone of voice” he says.

The objective external assessment of the Secret Shopper led to Open Line maximising the value of its product offering. Microsoft Azure Services, the new and growing family of secure cloud services that Open Line sells, is a tempting proposition for potential customers. Bundling Azure Stack into a trial offer was one of the attractive additions to Open Line’s catalogue that grew straight out of the Secret Shopper initiative.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for Stam was the reaction of his own colleagues to the announcement that a Secret Shopper had been working right under their noses.

“To be honest, I had expected a few people to be angry that we had brought in a Secret Shopper. There is a lot of work involved in putting a customer proposal together and people might not be happy to find out all of that work was only for a fictional customer.” In the event, his colleagues were fine with the whole exercise. The positive results meant a lot more to them than any regret at working for a carefully constructed prospect that did not really exist!

Creating a cloud that works for every type of business

The flexibility of the cloud is precisely what TeleComputing and customers such as Color Line desire and expect. Telecomputing can plug users into a powerful hybrid cloud resource that embraces the strengths of Microsoft Office 365 and Azure but which also contains Telecomputing’s own private cloud service. Security and rapid delivery of the very latest software updates are the name of the game.

What did Secret Shopper make of this combination? Patrik Lännerberg, Sales and Marketing Manager at TeleComputing sees Secret Shopper as the latest step in the company’s rise to becoming a mature, default choice in Scandinavia. One term that figures large in Lännerberg’s world today is accessibility.

Lännerberg wanted the Secret Shopper to open his eyes to the perspective of the customer. What Secret Shopper discovered is that every customer wants to get right into the heart of the business as quickly as possible. In other words, Tele-Computing had to become more accessible. “Secret Shopper showed us just how accessible we are, and where we had to improve accessibility. It allowed us to measure how we performed from the customer point of view and also from different stages within the buying process.”

  • Secret Shopper showed us just how accessible we are, and where we had to improve accessibility. It allowed us to measure how we performed from the customer point of view and also from different stages within the buying process.

    Patrik Lännerberg

    Business Area Manager — TeleComputing Sweden AB

Among Secret Shopper’s many observations were poor SEO results for both Bing and Google but a thumbs up for ease of navigation on TeleComputing’s website. Such positive endorsements are every bit as valuable as critical insights.

Lännerberg remembers that TeleComputing’s sales team was very pleased at the tips Secret Shopper gave them to introduce a faster and more seamless sales process. The concrete improvements the exercise delivered soon wiped out any objections to the fact that a covert examination that had taken place.

Staff at TeleComputing are now getting more training to ensure they are completely at home with the whole range of benefits Office 365 confers on customers. And those employees are far more confident in their roles says Lännerberg. “This made us all feel that we are modern company.”

Carrying on with a world-class concierge

Secret Shopper transforms the customer journey with a raft of objective observations and constructive criticism. But improvement should be a continuous process. That is where Microsoft’s new Concierge Service steps in. Concierge is a platform of support and assistance available to businesses that have been through the Secret Shopper program. Incorporating New Customer Acquisition Plans and boosted by options for financial support from Microsoft Concierge is just as diligently executed as Secret Shopper and it runs to a tight four week timetable.

TeleComputing has to carry on the journey that started with Secret Shopper using the Concierge Service. In the space of one month they have worked hand in hand with Microsoft’s own experts to turn best practice into daily routine. Whether it is developing a sales proposal or mapping out a client’s migration into the cloud, Concierge Service will find the ideal route to faster sales and satisfied customers. Getting it right has never been easier. And getting it right is what customers look for in the first place.

The Client

It is not often that a company finds itself in the unique position to get unbiased, professional feedback on the sales journey their prospects and customers experience as they consider making a purchase.
Brentwood Communications, a company that has dedicated itself for over 40 years to providing bespoke radio communication solutions to customers who return year after year, recently had their sales journey assessed by Alinea Partners.

Brentwood Communications’ experienced team understands its customers, who come from a wide variety of market sectors. They know that those who come to them require reliable and easy to use communications. But the company also understands that, as you strive to provide the best solutions in your field, it is very easy to miss developments, changes, or shifts in customer purchasing behaviour. A suboptimal buying experience can translate into missed sales from buyers who abandon websites or sales processes to look for the competition.

By opening the lid on a sales process that too many businesses leave to chance, Alinea Partners’ Sales Journey Assessment provides a scientific analysis of the whole buyer’s journey.
Based on an exhaustive 160-point assessment, a carefully constructed persona tests and reveals how a buyer experiences the process, from finding through sales contact to receiving a proposal. The Assessment drills down into every relevant detail, including calls, emails, and website visits. Alinea Partners has used this methodology to analyse hundreds of sales journeys worldwide.

The Outcome

The outcome revealed Brentwood Communications was doing many things right, but some elements for improvement were identified. For example, personnel was quick to react during the engagement process, eliminating the risk of buyers leaving while waiting for a response. On the other hand, the information about timelines for providing the solution could have been clearer. Also, while employees were extremely knowledgeable about the hard facts of their solutions, they could have been more effective to emphasize the solutions’ diverse benefits for the buyer.

After the assessment, Brentwood Communications received specific recommendations to improve their prospect profiling process and to tune up their sales training to cover a wider set of solution benefits for a buyer as well as to set up additional interactions with prospects after the proposal stage.

  • I think the experience was extremely beneficial for us as it reinforced where we excel in our sales journey while highlighting areas where we can close more business by making some obvious improvements.

    James Miller

    Managing Director — Brentwood Communications Ltd.

Going through this process has enabled Brentwood Communications to become more aware of the wide scope of the buyer’s experience and the related impact on their business. They also have more insight into what buyers are looking for and on which touchpoints they should be reached. Brentwood Communications has taken Alinea Partners’ recommendations professionally, implementing action plans to ensure their sales team can always provide prospective buyers with more insights, clearer solution implementation timelines, and outstanding buying experience.

The Sales Journey Assessment has allowed Brentwood Communications to improve their sales journey along the different segments. Achieving an Alinea Partners Excellence in Customer Experience Gold Certification greatly increased the sales team’s confidence, morale and closing rates.

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