Mystery Shopping and Partner Journey: Why and What Is It?

Secret shoppers or mystery shoppers are employed by companies or retailers to shop their own products or services. In the context of B2B and partner management, a mystery shopper lets companies get an accurate evaluation of their customer service and understand how their end-customers experience the partner journey.

Now, how can mystery shopping be useful for your partner journey? In this blog post, Leahanne Hobson – CEO & Founder of Alinea Partners – will explain the importance of mystery shopping in the context of a partner journey for channel partners, agents, or brokers.

 

Why does mystery shopping matter?

Most businesses look at the customer journey or buyer journey from the inside out. Channel partners, agents, or brokers attend workshops and meetings to evaluate the different points in the partner journey. This includes the process customers go through to access information, sign a partner into a program, encourage them to sell their products, and go through customer service.

There are a lot of factors to consider—but businesses must also determine events transpiring during the moment of purchase. What goes into your customer’s minds when they say, “We want to partner with you” or “We want to buy from you”. Why did they decide to do it? What happens if they purchase? What made them run away and ignore your offer?

Whenever customers leave, businesses aren’t aware of the reasons behind their refusal. Hence, mystery shoppers find the potential factors that discouraged them from purchase and how they can be fixed.

For instance, in a partner to partner scenario, mystery shoppers evaluate a company’s partner program by looking at their website and onboarding process.

Alinea Partners’ pilot project involved mystery shopping across 40 different companies in Europe. After they identified points of improvement, the companies experienced a 30% increase year over year in revenue upon execution.

 

Key insights from mystery shopping

What are the key insights from mystery shopping?

Alinea Partners mystery shopped at 550 different companies globally in the B2B telco space. Surprisingly, their study revealed that 86% of businesses are losing on sales opportunities.

66% of companies failed to sell because they lacked a digital footprint. In addition, 60% are not able to close deals, regardless if they’re found or not.

Data provided by Alinea Partners

 

Global best practices & learnings

How can businesses prevent customers from falling through the cracks?

In our webinar, Leahanne Hobson discussed best practices in terms of marketing, sales, solution mapping, and proposal to improve conversions and close deals.

Data provided by Alinea Partners

Here are the ideal strategies and learnings based on her vast experience.

1. Marketing

66% of companies who lack a digital footprint, need to invest more in marketing.

SEO is not just about paid search and Google. Instead, it should focus on keyword optimization for websites, guest posts and creating quality content.

Interestingly, Alinea Partners examined a sample set of 550 different companies and found that social media is primarily used to create awareness.

To take this to the next level, they recommend using social selling or using social media as a platform to get leads across the sales funnel. The key is to focus on engagement and not awareness. Use social media to convey your proposal and close deals. Also, businesses must be able to train their teams to sell in social media and online channels to remain highly competitive.

 

2. Solution mapping

A lot of companies launch products, services, and software as silos. However, they don’t consider the products or services that they can upsell shortly after.

Rather than focusing on individual product sales, businesses must create persona focused customer roadmaps. Build specific cross and upsell motions. For instance, consider bundle deals to increase profit margin, identify aspects to offer more value, and think about the process as a whole.

Many companies simply focus on products and technologies. In the process, they fail to execute strategies to boost customer retention. Hence, sales teams must make a move to upsell, retain customers longer, improve profitability and manage their services in order to succeed.

 

3. Sales

Sales departments must master due diligence on prospects.

For starters, segment partners and create a purpose-driven differentiator. Once a segment is determined, create understandable and personalized offers for customers.

Next, examine your company’s natural sales process or engagement process. Make sure prospects can reach you through different channels (i.e. chat, emails, web forms). If your product is easy to buy, it may take one call to close the deal. However, more complex products may require two to four calls for your prospects.

 

4. Proposal

When a customer enters the partner journey and speaks to a sales representative, they expect to receive a proposal by the end of the call. However, ⅔ of the time, mystery shoppers did not receive a proposal, according to Leahanne Hobson.

Yet, sales teams aren’t the only ones to blame. Technology problems and process problems are possible obstacles but they’re fixable. Moreover, businesses must be able to understand best practices for offering proposals. If a salesperson manages to send a proposition, don’t forget to follow-up. Otherwise, businesses can lose a potential partner and waste time and money used to sell to the prospect.

 

How to get better results?

For reporting purposes, Leahanne outlined a linear process to truly understand the buyer journey.

 

Data provided by Alinea Partners

For each step in the process, here are the questions a mystery shopper considers:

  • Discovery phase – If you want to buy something, what are the routes you go through to find someone that sells it?
  • Learning phase – Is the company relevant for me? Do they have what I’m looking for or to fit? Can they fix my problem?
  • Try phase – I want to experience what it’s like to purchase this product or service?
  • Buy phase – What is the value proposition of the offer? Is the proposal strong and competitive as it can be?
  • Activate phase – How can users get started with the product?
  • Usage phase – How is the onboarding process? Are there any upsell opportunities?
  • Support phase – Is the training of the sales team relevant to the buying process or customer support process?
  • Loyalty – Will customers be loyal to your brand? How long will businesses retain them?

By answering these questions, mystery shoppers can identify strengths, weaknesses, and abandonment triggers to focus on. Then, mystery shoppers can give specific recommendations that can be used to build an improvement plan.

How to improve your partner journey?

To create a superb partner journey, businesses must be able to look at their partner journey through the eyes of the customer.

Getting in touch with a mystery shopper will definitely help uncover key insights. However, we also recommend using tools like Qollabi – a Business Relationship Management (BRM) software – to digitize partner plans, initiatives and objectives. By uploading all the relevant information in an online platform, you can easily collaborate with channel partners, agents, or brokers from various companies and businesses.

We thank Alinea Partners for the provided data.

 

By Frie Pétré

 



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