Empowered by technology and with a wealth of information at their fingertips, the height that the professional buyer has reached is at dizzying proportions. In the B2B selling environment for 2018 professional buyers or procurement departments are wielding more power and authority in the organization than even before.
Who is calling the shots after all? And how will sales winners make sure that they’ll have another successful year? It’s all questions, questions, questions and with todays buyers implementing precisely structured, innovative strategies that streamline the buying process, sales professionals need to keep their skills sharply tuned to control the rhythm of this beating drum!
I want you to walk with me as we look closely at the profile of this modern buyer and I discuss some of the challenges that lie ahead. I’ll be sharing some of my knowledge with you in a small series of articles that will show you how to place international best-practices into your sales strategy and ultimately create real value.
Here’s something to think about, did you know that some procurement teams change their managers every 6 months or so to prevent ‘emotive buying’ or any sort of close relationships building up with suppliers? It’s true the modern compliance framework has evolved, buyers are now cost-centres and as such are responsible for making credible and legally defendable decisions that are evaluated on fairness and are completely auditable.
For sales professionals or business owners it signifies the need to ensure that your prospecting strategies match your clients' new expectations. You simply won’t be able to compete or develop future sustainability if care and thought are not put into this part of the sales process. Let’s be completely transparent here – “The Buying Process has taken over”.
Your future customers don’t want to talk about anything other than their business and what’s in it for them. They don’t want to hear you thump away about your solution, they don’t want to hear you talk about what you do, only what you can do for them. You’ve said 5 times already how amazing your product is but they’re not listening because what matters most to them is “What’s in it for them”?
They’re looking for new ideas and concepts, new ways of thinking about things, new ways of improving their business and compete better, it’s insight above all else that they value the most!
With all of this going on we should really ask ourselves – what do we know about the sales process? A lot of sales trainers out there are still teaching the same methods, methods that did work but have now become obsolete with the natural progression of time. Todays most successful salespeople are continuously working on delivering value, creating and respecting trust, and have positioned themselves as true advisers and challengers.
The stars of the sales world are employing “definitive prospecting strategies” and best-practices that are winning them deal after deal in the modern buying environment. They have adapted to meet those new expectations that we discussed earlier, they are using techniques with clinical precision that surprise and more importantly challenge the client.
Developing relationships in sales has always been important but that’s now coming second to sharing competitive knowledge and offering the kind of value that links back to your solutions.
Curiously, although a lot of research taps into and exposes how it is that star salespeople are beating the odds and winning deals in this tough buying environment, most sales professionals still struggle to meet their quotas, find prospecting difficult, and are not adopting and implementing these best-practices. They can't (or won't) differentiate or create real value and therefore will not win the client.
Remember the days when you used to call the shots? You knew your product inside-out, asked all the great questions, listened, built relationships, handled objections, influenced, persuaded, negotiated and closed deals like a Jedi.
Those days are pretty much gone.
Todays average B2B buyer is 57% through their purchasing decision before they contact a supplier. They’ve plundered their way through a mountain of detailed research without any seller engagement. With that in mind, how does the sales professional differentiate? How do you position your solution above that of the competition? If you are a small business, lesser known or completely unknown brand, how do you win a seat at the big players table?
Even if you have worked hard and managed to put forward one of three proposals that the client is considering and each one meets the desired criteria, you might still be undistinguishable in their mind. Ultimately in this situation, price will be the obvious strategy for the client and they will use it to negotiate a winning solution.
For the supplier, the battle against tighter margins and lower commissions begins. Moreover, tactics like winning on lower price typically generate less loyalty because there will always be a competitor around the corner waiting for renewal time with a lower price.
I'm going to leave you with all of that to digest and ask that you join me next week, where we will discuss the sales ‘hunter and ‘farmer’ roles and the progress made from Consultative Selling. I’ll also be offering insights into how to win client loyality, and core skills for future-proofing your sales in the digital age of the savvy buyer.
You can join our forum at www.lead-results.com where we will be keeping you up-to-date with tips, hints and great advice that improve your prospecting strategies and sales results.
Until then, sell with value.