You don’t shop the way you did five years ago—so why are you still selling that way? Today’s B2B buyers are more empowered than ever before. They do their own research. They read reviews. They price compare online. In comparison, we know from the B2C world, 90% of the buying decision is made before a potential customer even walks into a storefront.
Which means we need to be fluid. What worked 24 or even 12 months ago is now outdated. It simply won’t work anymore. Consumers don’t want to deal with some pushy, charismatic wheeler and dealer. They want the best solution.
But don’t start contemplating your next big career move or planning an early retirement party just yet—buyers still need salespeople, just not in the ways that might immediately come to mind. Buying behavior has changed, with consumers showing much more hunger for information than for amazing deals.
So how can salespeople adapt to B2B buyers’ changing needs?
I want to share what’s been working for me and my team over the last little while in the hopes that it will help you be more effective in your role and add more value to your buyers.
Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned:
1. Take on the role of an educator
Consumers are curious. They want to know more about your product so they can make the best possible decision for their business. And lucky for them, you’re the expert!
Rather than selling, seek to inspire. Show your B2B buyers what their business could look like if they decided to implement your solution. Provide resources and make yourself available for their questions, but don’t push it. By positioning yourself as a resource, you can educate your prospect on the value of your product without coming off as overbearing—and chances are, your customers will trust you more for it.
2. Show value and inspire
Your success doesn’t happen during the sales call. It happens afterward when your prospect is lying awake at night, thinking about the potential gain of implementing your solution or potential loss of not. It’s your job to inspire that kind of reaction by helping them imagine a future using your product—and by showing your prospect what they’d be missing out on by passing up this opportunity for their business.
I recently listened in on a successful cold call between our sales dev rep, Chris Wu, and one of the biggest global financial service firms. Looking to book a meeting, Chris cut to the chase saying, “if you spend the time researching this, one of two things will happen. One, you will be confident continuing on this year with XYZ Competitor, or two, it will become clear that you need to change and change quickly.”
Showing value in sales is nothing new. However, finding new ways to inspire and create opportunities to share value is something we can always work on. Even if you’re working the biggest, most traditional prospects, there’s still a need to innovate. Maybe even more of a need.
3. A sales call by any other name…
…is dishonest and unhelpful to your prospects. If it’s a sales call, say it’s a sales call.
By being straightforward, you build trust with your prospect. More than that, you’ll find that people are more willing to agree to talk to you when they know what they’re getting into.
Do away with any vagueness. If you only need three minutes of their time, say it. Set a timer and hold yourself to those three minutes. Give them the opportunity to arrange a follow-up or keep chatting if they’re still interested, but make them aware of when the three minutes has elapsed.
By showing that you’re respectful of their time, you demonstrate that you’re trustworthy and dependable.
4. Be human
There is one part of the salesperson of yesteryear that isn’t obsolete: the human connection. It sounds cheesy, but the truth is, we all have a little Cosmo Kramer in us.
Buyers want an expert in their corner, someone to say: When you go down there talk to my guy Bob Sacamano. Mention my name & he’ll take 30% off. We like to be recognized and feel special. It’s just human nature.
I hope these lessons have been helpful and inspired you to think about your sales role in a new light. What are you doing to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of sales? Let me know in the comments below!