To paraphrase JFK: “Ask not how to get more sales. Ask how to attract more buyers”.
The difference is not subtle. It’s attitudinal. Big time.
B2B selling is more complex than ever. Adaptability is key to mastering that complexity. Adapting attitudes toward the changing roles and responsibilities of buyer and seller are huge.
Changing buyer expectations present particularly new challenges for sales teams every day. To be competitive and hit revenue goals sales people and their managers must accept them and adapt.
First, realize nobody wants to be “sold”, especially modern B2B purchasing people. They want to “buy”. That means they want more relevant information to make the decision. Emotion (like for all consumers) does influence them but they need to be rationally assured because “hey, we’re talking business here”.
Successful B2B sales teams don’t “sell”, They make it easy for a prospect to “buy”, confident they made the right decision and looked good doing it.
Embrace these five factors to attract the B2B buyer behavior you want:
#1: Make all relevant information about your goods / services easily available and up to date on line and through targeted social media.
B2B buyers independently research more than ever. Its easy so they can. Purchasers will always do what’s good for them, especially if it’s not hard. A recent Accenture study says 94% of B2B purchasing people go online before contacting any supplier. As a result, they are more educated and informed about their options than ever.
Busy prospects no longer need your reps for the most basic information about your products / services. Peer reviews, feedback, pricing, technical information, and competitive comparisons are instantly accessible. But they will still want to trust your sales rep to guide them how best to benefit from what you offer.
B2B buyers want vendors who understand their industry and their specific challenges. They want to buy from those who offer Innovative Insights how to optimize their ROI. And make it easy doing it.
#2: Eliminate the tendency of prospects skeptical of today’s sellers’ honest intentions by proving you really help customers “buy” the right thing.
B2B buyers dismiss reps who utilize a “one-size-fits-all” strategy. Data from Forrester suggest at least 59% prefer to research online instead of or before listening to any sales rep. That’s a modest estimate.
It’s a “trust” issue. You must build it. Prospects will respond. I’ve written here before “Trust is the enduring competitive edge” available if sought. The more trusted an individual is, the greater their sales effectiveness.
Build that trust by helping prospects rather than selling them. Buyers don’t want to hear a sales pitch – they want to learn. While they can easily find information online, they want to understand or know how to interpret and apply it to their own situation.
A LinkedIn survey found that B2B buyers are 500% more likely to seek a sales pro who provides new insights about their business or industry.
#3: Recognize how super-connected and socially influenced your customers are.
Digital channels are now huge in the sale process, for both the sales rep and B2B buyers. The traditional “buyer trust” model is changed but NOT less important. Buyers look to their peers, colleagues, even “competitors” through professional associations and networks for the latest advice. Reputable testimonials have never been more valid as a buying influence.
In fact, an IDC study found that 3 out of 4 B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions, and Influitive data assert that word-of-mouth recommendations from peers influence over 90% of all B2B buying decisions.
Because B2B buying decisions are so complex it’s important to leverage proof that helps buyers build their internal business case to convince ultimate decision-makers they are right. Encourage your sales team to share these insights via email, social, and in-person. Help informed decisions happen and you help everyone involved in the purchase process succeed.
#4: Understand buyers now know more but tend to be risk adverse and less confident.
B2B “buyers’ remorse” is rising. Ironically, today’s technology that fuels their knowledge also intensifies their anxiety over opportunity cost. Prospects often second-guess themselves, are afraid to commit or worry about potentially missing choosing a “better” vendor. B2B buyers increasingly seek to identify and reduce risk. More than any time in the last 40 years they fear damage to their professional credibility, job insecurity, software failure to perform as promised, and loss of monetary investments.
B2B buyers are now relying on content to guide them through the complicated and confusing purchase process, from research to decision. A DemandGem report found B2B buyers review an average of 10.4 information sources before making any purchase. That’s an increase of 70% in the last 4 years.
Effective B2B sales reps should proactively share relevant and engaging content that is appropriate to the prospect’s stage in the sales cycle. Their confidence in ROI goes up. Their anxiety drops. Your chances of renewal increase.
#5: Accept today’s decision making process involves more stakeholders.
B2B sales reps now must deal with the “consensus sale”. The individual is less important. Helping the group effectively decide is crucial. These buying groups now range from 7 to 20 people in a variety of jobs, functions and even locations. Guiding them requires greater patience, diplomacy and follow through.
As the number of people involved in a buying decision increases, the likelihood of purchase decreases. More so, it takes 5 to 6 prospects to agree for a sale to even progress.
Know your buyer’s situation. Know more about the people involved, demographically and psychographically too if possible. The more complete your buyer profile the more relevant your content and message.
Information is key to today’s B2B buying team. Each is more empowered and informed and has higher expectations than ever.
You must enable your sales team to match their expectations with the right technology, best practices knowledge and with their own power to do the right thing to close a happy B2B sales decision.
By Mike Hanson
Cel/Text: (416) 200-2430
With thanks to Shelley Cernel, Senior Marketing Manager, KnowledgeTree.