The B2B digital buyer is a reality, with 62% of buyers believing they can develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based solely on digital content and 44% of Millennials prefer a rep free buying experience. The below graph (reference: Gartner) shows the scary new reality. When B2B buyers are considering a purchase‚ they spend only 17% of that time meeting with salespeople of potential suppliers. They research independently, 45% online and offline while 22% is spent on meeting with stakeholders in the buying group.
When buyers are comparing two or three suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with any sales rep maybe only 5% or 6%. You are no longer the core information source.
But we also know that buying has become more complex. The average buying group is 6-10, accessing 4.5 information sources per stakeholder. Everyone builds their own opinion of what is strategically best for their company, and everyone wants to be heard. This leads to conflicting situations and slows the buying process down. Some companies do not make any strategic change decisions at all. Their buying journey turns out to be ineffective, dysfunctional at times, and, they usually prefer a fix over a change.
We cannot deny what buyers are really after; they miss information and they want to verify their own information findings. If companies cannot provide that service, then buyers will go somewhere else. Companies need to ensure they help buyers with their information challenge, personally and digitally.
Both sales and marketing need to understand better what the buyer is busy with. What is going on in the customer’s world? Flip the coin, swap seats or whatever works for you. Put some different glasses on, see the world through your customers’ lenses. What do you see? You see a world full of challenges and business opportunities. Which ones are the right ones to invest their money in? Which decision will give them the biggest return on investment? Do they have the right strategy to survive and thrive? Should they expand into new markets, or invest in product development? Who are the movers and shakers in their industry, and what are they up to? What impact will that have on their business? What is potentially disrupting their industry? What should their next move be?
If you have been following my blogs, then for Salespeople the challenge is clear. We need a new way of selling and need to adapt to the buyers’ new way of buying. Type in the search engine words like Trusted Advisor, New Way of Selling, Selling with the Buyer’s Perspective, Insight Selling, Moving on from Solution Selling, Mindset Shift. You will get it. Reflect on what you read or listen to, and discuss your view with your peers and at team meetings.
The key is information, and how you can help buyers with making sense of the overwhelming information to make better decisions. And that is also true for marketing; Supporting customer buying jobs is the key for Sales and Marketing alignment. Do companies’ websites digitally provide what the buyers are after? Do they talk their language? Do they help customers with information on typical buying process responsibilities? Can buyers find what they are looking for? Seling is not just salespeople providing the right information. Selling is helping customers personally and digitally.
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