OK, if you have been following my recent posts you probably have noticed what is going on. Things at the customers’ side are changing; they are better informed, do more and thorough research on their own and apparently by the time they meet salespeople they are halfway through their buying process. It seems B2B buying has become easier. With so much knowledge at their fingertips, it seems customers are much more in control of what they want. What they want to change to. And finding the right supplier is outsourced to procurement to get the best price.
A bumpy road ahead
However, research (Gartner, Oct 2018) reveals:
1: The buying process is anything but a straight line
2: Because of flatter organizations there are more and more stakeholders involved in the decision process
3. And for these stakeholders, it is hard to agree to what to agree on.
In other words, although buying seems to be straightforward (knowing what they need), the opposite is more the rule than the exception. Independent online research and having more stakeholders involved in the buying process are causing many buyers more headaches varying from misalignment on the problem, the scope, and possible solutions. Adding deconflicting information within the stakeholders’ group and even more opinions on what to do from peer-discussions outside the buyers’ organization you got a melting pot that is screaming for help.
A smooth road ahead
If much of the buyers’ learning happens without direct sales rep involvement, what do we need to do differently by the time we meet with them? The answer to this question is not to see this from the selling perspective but from the buying perspective. Buying has not become easier. It is more complex. And also the main reason why so many customers prefer to stick to their status quo rather than making a change. Because change comes with risks.
The new complexity of buying is exactly the chance for sales executives who recognize this new buying challenge. Instead of looking inwards focused on your products, services and solutions, look through the lens of the buyer and help with the facilitation of their buying process. There is so much change going on in their world that it becomes overwhelming. They are dealing with questions like “Have we got the right strategy?” , “Who is disrupting my industry?”, “Where are my new competitors?”
Our job is to provide information that buyers most need but least likely to find on their own. The new way of selling is not so much about excellence in traditional sales conversations but rather excellence in bringing insights and ideas aligned to knowledge-gaps in the buyer’s process, meaning:
- Share with them risks that come with sticking to their status quo
- Share with them opportunities to grow when changing
- Explain that an investment is needed to stay ahead of their competition
Buyers cannot be an expert in everything, but when meeting with you they are hungry for expert information where their challenges interconnect with your knowledge. How can you shine a new perspective on their situation? Can your expert information bring clarity to the most efficient and effective ways of achieving what they are trying to achieve? Can you share insights of what you have seen working well with other businesses? This is experience what buyers don’t have and is for many an information gap. In today’s increasingly complex B2B buyers’ environment, that is what customers truly value.
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