Reimagining B2B sales: Time to put the buyer’s thinking cap on
How to sell the way your buyers want to buy.
Reinvigorating B2B sales to accelerate business
Geopolitical tensions and the repercussions of multiple waves of COVID-19 weigh heavily on the global economy. Major events lead buyers to think twice before spending every penny. They only get the essentials, perform a thorough evaluation, and are cautious while making decisions. It is time for B2B sellers to reset their sales mindset—think like a buyer and question themselves.
Here’s a question for sellers—have you thought of how you want a product or service to be sold to you? You most likely would prefer a salesperson who is knowledgeable, respectful, and puts your needs, challenges, and preferences first.
The same applies in a B2B context. Defining a buyer-centric sales approach is essential to succeed in a dynamic business environment. B2B buyers now expect the same experience as B2C buyers. In a B2C environment, buyers access information online and purchase products via digital channels without consulting salespersons. Similarly, B2B buyers prefer to research independently and order products online.
The three major considerations in B2B selling when compared to B2C include:
The decision-making processes involve multiple stakeholders
Longer sales cycles
More complex pricing or contract structures
Sales teams need to build confidence and trust with buyers. We believe transforming digitally across these three dimensions will help your organization stay ahead of the competition.
The first dimension is the buyers’ focus area. Keeping the buyer at the center in every step increases the chances of a successful sale. It starts with identifying the right buyer based on the definition of an ideal customer profile and buyer persona. Next would be to understand the buyer through extensive research, using sources such as LinkedIn, financial reports, and common references. The third step would be contextualizing the discussions with buyers by asking the right questions to understand their pain points and gaps. Then, sellers must tailor their sales pitch according to buyers’ needs. Finally, sellers must be highly responsive to buyers’ queries to help them make the right decisions.
These are proven best practices in the customer-centric sales approach used by skilled salespersons. However, making it repeatable and consistent across the sales workforce in an organization is a challenge faced by leaders today. In addition, B2B buying teams comprise diverse personalities across generations, gender, and other aspects, leading to long sales cycles. Adopting digital sales enablement technology solutions would help define and execute buyer-centric sales at scale. Moreover, it would create and manage personalized sales content and communications for buyers in focus across sales teams.
The changing behaviors and preferences of B2B buyers adds to the complexities in the sales process. They prefer to research and order online over meeting with salespersons and making decisions.
Reimagined sales processes
The second dimension to focus on is the sales process. In recent years, there has been a shift toward inbound sales strategies that allow buyers to self-discover solutions to their problems, as well as account-based sales with a highly targeted and personalized approach.
These sales approaches heavily rely on attracting and engaging potential customers through personalized content and experiences. Gartner suggests that 72% of millennial buyers prefer a sales rep-free, self-serve buying experience; this reinforces the importance of digital engagement and the enablement of a seamless guided buying experience for buyers.
Supercharged sales teams
The third focus aspect is building, managing, and retaining effective sales teams, as it continues to be a challenge for sales leaders in the dynamic B2B business environment. The desired skills of sales professionals have changed over the past five years. The focus is shifting from customer satisfaction to customer experience, results to outcomes, and convincing to consulting.
This means that talent development strategies must shift to assist sales reps, so they can better understand data, technology, and associated insights relevant to buyers. This will help them empathize and appreciate the needs of their prospects, and engage with the human interest aspect by connecting personal experiences, relevant case studies, and testimonials.
Digital learning methods, including nano learning content, just-in-time guidance, and peer learning content, have proven effective for current day sales jobs in B2B. An effective talent strategy and the right sales tools equip the sales teams to build strong and long-term relationships based on trust and mutual success.
Building cross-functional agile go-to-market teams by bringing together sales, marketing, and customer services teams to close deals while removing layers and dependencies has proven effective.
Dealing with a sea of options
With multiple booming technologies in the market and new categories emerging every day, sales teams must prepare to address a diverse and growing set of pain points.
There is a technology solution for almost every problem across these dimensions, so which ones to discard and keep is a decision that chief sales officers (CSOs) must make. Successful CSOs have not let all the options overwhelm them and have made decisions based on data focused on the perspectives and desired outcomes of buyers.