Last week I listened to a podcast by Aaron Evans, Matt Dixon, Anthony Iannarino and Todd Caponi. It was all around the shocking research statistic that when customers are looking for new ideas and solutions to grow their business, a whopping 72% prefer a rep-free experience. In other words:
3 out of 4 interviewed businessmen and women find that the average Salesperson doesn’t add enough value to the customer conversation. They prefer to do their own research rather than involving a salesperson.
In Gartner’s B2B Buyer survey, 58% of B2B buyers said they encountered conflicting information from sales reps and websites. Unfortunately, that also doesn’t help create buyers’ confidence in salespeople. Many Buyers were, in particular, dissatisfied with the purchase process. For example, they felt rushed into making a decision or that the Salesperson was too pushy.
On the other hand, of the same Buyers who bought solutions on their own without meeting with salespeople, 23% experienced post-purchase regret. They struggled, in particular, to make sense of overwhelming information and to reach a collective agreement with the buying group. So, this indicates that, in hindsight, they should have consulted a salesperson.
What does this all mean? Well, buyers are not much different than you and me. When looking for ideas to improve something or making more significant purchase decisions, there is so much information out there that, at times, they get overwhelmed, confused and indecisive. They want to meet with salespeople, but their expectation of the value they get from these meetings has changed.
For example, when intending to buy a new television flat screen, I have walked out of shops empty-handed three times because the Salesperson’s advice was just below average, terrible at times. I can find out more on the internet. So why should I go back to these shops?
To the loyal “thesalesadvice” readers, it is no news that the way of buying and buying expectations have changed, and salespeople need to adapt their sales approach to sell with the Buyer’s Perspective rather than the Seller’s perspective.
But this perception that buyers have over salespeople remains a worry. It makes it harder to get that first meeting. And if you do, and you fail to make that an excellent experience for the Buyer, you might not get your second meeting.
So, the question is, how do we change that perception? I think it’s time to fight back and show them that this may be true for the average Salesperson but not for you! Do you agree?
It’s up to you and no one else to demonstrate that you are a worthwhile person to talk to and can help small, medium and big companies with their desired business objectives.
Our Struggle with Change
Still, many are struggling to do this well. No one has said that the new way of selling is an easy job, like a walk in the park, including the earlier mentioned selling Gurus. So, what advice to follow to turn this struggle around?
Three Small Steps will make Big Leaps.
Suppose you have been trained in understanding the customer’s buying process. And you know what Hidden Competitors are and how to handle them. You also feel comfortable sharing insights and telling stories. What will help you make enormous progress and be seen as trustworthy and someone who created value?
I recommend focusing on three small steps that will make giant leaps! Then, challenge yourself to make continuous improvements on:
- USE BUSINESS ACUMEN: You must use Business Acumen in your conversations, particularly in the Why Change? Phase to help stakeholders start thinking differently about business models and strategies. Start talking like a business person. Talking too early in the buying process about your company or solutions doesn’t help.
- BE RELEVANT: To be super relevant, you need to understand where stakeholders are in their buying process. What you say, what you ask, and what you share differs in each Buying phase. Be aware of this. Don’t show up and throw up why your company is the best if this is irrelevant. Instead, show your Buyer that you understand their situation and challenges, verify that understanding and ask what you don’t know. Share insights, and tell stories. Earn that credibility at the start of your conversations, be in their world, be a business sparring partner and sit at their side of the table. That makes you relevant.
- HOMEWORK: Start doing the homework for your customer. If they are overworked, confused and indecisive, help them to see the trees from the forest. Tell them what you think. Let them make the discovery. Instead of asking what keeps your stakeholder up at night, share with them what you predict will happen in their industry and why they should adapt to stay ahead of their competitors. Have an opinion on how you can help. This requires some assertiveness.
Three things to focus on to bridge the Buyers’ expectations gap. Let me know how you go with this.