B2B Buyers have changed

B2B Buyers have changed, but why haven't B2B sales?

Steve Eveleigh

In this article we're are going to dive into the modern buyer. What makes someone a “Modern Buyer” and then we'll look at how this ties into the sales process. Today’s buyer has all the power.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, admitting you do not have the control, but once you do you can really start the level the playing field in growing your sales figures.

You're Probably a Modern Buyer Yourself

According to research performed by CEB and Google today's business buyers don't contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchasing process is complete. But, this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone because we are all modern buyers.

Think about this for yourself – When was the last time that you were actually caught by a cold call? For me, it’s been years. How many unsolicited emails do you you actually open and read? I suspect if you’re like me, it’s not that many. And in a post-GDPR world they probably shouldn't exist.

Yet most sales teams are trying to sell modern buyers with a legacy sales process.

Redressing the power balance

Just think about your own buyers journeys for the latest products you have purchased. I know personally I have tried to avoid sales people as long as possible. I conduct my own research, check forums, read reviews, etc.

For every competitive space, there is a product or review site out there. For even the smallest and most granular of industries, interests, or areas of specialisation, there are a dozen active online groups and forums. When modern buyer’s buy, they do it on their own timeline & terms. We have the information, and we start the buying process.

Trying to sell to modern buyers with a legacy sales process is like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole... It just isn’t efficient or effective.

Something’s got to give.


The legacy B2B sales process

So, let’s talk about the legacy sales process. A legacy sales process is based on seller actions (e.g. qualify > demo > close). To fully explain the legacy sales process, we are going focus on the legacy sales process in terms of source, connect, qualify and close.

In the legacy sales process, Legacy salespeople typically prospect buyers researching their particular product, in their specific territory. Legacy salespeople connect by mass emailing and calling the same generic message to all of their prospects. Generic is the keyword here – to qualify and close legacy salespeople use the same generic demo, with the same generic examples and case studies – not typically pertinent to their prospect. Legacy salespeople are focused on speed – trying to qualify and close prospects as quickly as possible so they can hit their quota for that particular month. But, as we know, these legacy sales tactics are not effective in the age of the modern buyer.

So how have sales teams responded?

Well, we’ve seen sales team try to find ways to increase their throughput by finding more people, sending more emails and making more cold calls. They’ve tried to find tools that will help them. And believe me, there are a lot of these tools out there. Just log on to Product Hunt and you’ll see dozens of these every single day.

Finding ways to do more of the same thing faster doesn’t necessarily yield better results. It doesn’t even yield more of the same results. It seems logical that finding a way to scale up something that you know can work, would hopefully scale up your results.

If sending a thousand emails a month is just barely helping you generate 10 deals, it’s tempting to think that sending 10,000 emails a month would result in 100 deals. But the fact is that thats rarely how it works.

There is problem with all of the tools out there – they are trying to help you find new ways to do the same thing faster. They aren’t looking at the big picture. If more of the same just doesn’t work - what’s the alternative? This is something Gripped have been thinking about a lot.

There are many possible answers to this, but we really think that it’s important to go back to that buyer, to their needs, to put their needs first in the sales process. So what’s the inverse of a legacy sales process? What do we call a sales process that does put the buyer first, a process that elevates their needs and their voice?

We think of that as being an inbound sales process. The next step doesn’t happen until progress is instigated by the buyer. Context about who that buyer is, context about that buyers interests, their needs, their wants, etc.

Where does all of that context come from? In an inbound sales process, (it's worth clarifying upfront this is not an inside sales process and shouldn't be mistaken for one) it’s captured automatically, in real time.

As your prospect navigates through your site, as your team corresponds with them, it’s all collected, organized, and presented back to the salesperson when they need it. This is also hugely useful because it makes coaching your team that much easier. Managers & salespeople can sit down, drill in together, and talk through some recent examples of how a salesperson responded to a certain signal from the prospect. It’s much more formulaic but tailored to the prospect.

The last sort of core principle here is that an inbound sales process is one that matches up perfectly with what marketing is up to. Because salespeople are taking context about a prospect - about their interests, about their journey so far, into account, the sales process feels like a natural continuation from marketing.

The inbound sales process

Let’s take a look more specifically at the steps in the sales process. I'm still surprised to learn that so many business that we engage with don't have some kind of a documented sales process or methodology your sales team follows. What percentage of your reps’ time is spent prospecting? 20%? 50%? Think about what would happen if your sales reps did not have to spend time prospecting and could dive right into qualified leads.

Some of the tool set that we support our customer with help identify prospects showing the right signs. Then provide the information into the number of visitors to your site and the page views. These people are explicitly showing signs of interest in your company.

Then, you are able to instantly look into hints regarding their needs and what they are interested in. For example, being able to show the IT Director of one of your targeted prospects visited the pricing page one hour ago. It seems like a great opportunity to reach out and now you have something specific to talk to them about, rather than using a generic message.

Inbound sales allows your sales people to reach out to interested visitors, so visitors can learn and buy on their own terms.

Live Chat

Giving features like live chat to your sales people puts a friendly face and an easy way to get help or book a meeting on your product pages, pricing page, or any other part of your site. Remember, the visitor has complete control to respond to the chat, so if they are ready or have questions, they can instantly connect with a sales rep. This gives the visitor control over the interaction, making them feel like the experience is in their control.

Live chat provides a much lower barrier to entry and sets a different expectation than filling out a form. Instead of throwing up many generic messages and hoping the message resonates with one or two people. Gripped is helping many of our customer easily tailor messages to prospects based on what they showing you they are interested in.


Smarter Emails That Engage Prospects

Smarter sales emailing based on a visitors history and the journey they've taken through your site provides a much lower barrier to entry than live chat, sets a different expectation than filling out a form. Instead of throwing up many generic messages and hoping the message resonates with one or two people. We're helping a lot of our customers match messages directly to the routes prospects have taken through their website so that the emails are less generic, more specific and convert.


Smart Calendaring Apps

There are many apps on the market that allow you to provide modern buyers with the ability to pick a time to connect that works for them, putting the ball in their court and making it very easily to connect with a sales rep during a time and date that works for them. Instead of running a generic sales process with the goal of closing as quickly as possible.


The New World of Sales

The new world of sales is not about doing more. Its not about volume, its about catering content and interactions to your prospects. Because, really, whats worse than being on the receiving end of something you really don’t care about? Your sales team should be able to see what the prospect is interested in so they can personalize their next interaction with them accordingly. By implementing some simple changes they'll have a huge impact and help better align your sales and marketing efforts.

Growth Audit

If you have any thoughts on the changing world of B2B sales I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Originally published on 03/09/18 06:34

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