B2B customers are changing the way they are buying. There are several reasons for that, with the biggest drivers “The Internet of Things” and second the “A changed buying behavior driven by B2C buying”. So, in this ever-changing and more complex world, you are as a seller not only confronted with customers who already know a lot about you, your company and solutions but also with managers who like to interact differently than several years ago. This impacts their perception of buying: Why reaching out to a salesperson if you have access to possible solutions online? And why agreeing to meet with salespeople if from a customer experience the outcome of these meetings has become more and more disappointing?
62% of stakeholders involved in major decision making develop their selection criteria based solely on digital content. With AI on the rise, this percentage will only go up. Soon customers will have their algorithms pin-pointing to the best available solutions. Soon, how many “likes” and “comments from other buyers” will impact the 62% percent to an alarming higher number.
If you have not thought about this before then this is the moment: B2B selling requires a new way of selling. You need to adapt the way of selling to the new way of buying. You need to work on a sales approach that does work. Here is a couple of Do’s and Don’ts to help you transform your mindset about selling effectively B2B in this decade:
- Lead with your products, the customer knows already nearly everything of what you sell
- Ask too many discovery questions, your customer heard the same from your competitor sales rep and they get obviously bored with answering them
- Follow your sales process as if it is a linear checklist. The buying process is anything but linear hence this approach is a huge mismatch to the non-linear buying process
- Assume you know what your customer needs before even meeting with them. 80% of customers are in a “Service in Place”, meaning they have a supply chain working and actually do not even thinking about changing.
- Lead with price, if that is your tactic than you will always loose. You cannot be the best and the cheapest. That doesn’t work as a consumer nor in business.
- Talk to only one or two persons of your prospective customer. That’s why opportunities get stalled. The same two people need the opinions of at least four other colleagues. The average number of stakeholders involved in major decision making is 6.8 and a consensus on change needs to be reached.
- Prepare your meetings so you know more about what your customer does to make money, what are their business challenges, how do they stay ahead of their competitors, what is their strategy to achieve what they are trying to achieve?
- Lead with insights, something your contact at the customer’s organization doesn’t know, would like to know more of and is relevant to their business challenges. You meet so many similar businesses as your prospective customer, they are actually keen to hear from you what you see is working well and what isn’t.
- Have an opinion on how you think you can help the customer to grow their business, reduce their overall cost, stay ahead of their competitors and meet their profit targets.
- Improve your Business Acumen. You need this to understand the customer’s business landscape better. Business Acumen is the new Sales Acumen. Talk to your manager on ideas on how to improve.
- Meet with more stakeholders in the customer’s organization. From warehouse to “penthouse”. Understand where they are in the buying process. What are their top 1, 2, 3 concerns? They all have a different agenda.
- Lift your conversations to business discussions. Ask yourself: How can I help this business to grow? How can I help them achieve their profit targets?
- Be comfortable discussing with your prospective customer the risk of not changing.
- Never lead with price. Focus on finding strategic value. Once your prospective customer realizes the strategic advantage of changing suppliers than price is not a top priority.
Changing your mindset from “the Don’ts” to “the Do’s” will take time but is required to change the customer’s perspective. The risk is that salespeople become less relevant, the opportunity is that the customers actually want to meet with you because of the strategic value you can offer. Focus on the Do’s to become the Trusted Advisor B2B customers want you to be.
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