In 2021 your buyers are in the driver’s seat ~ it’s time to act like it
First of all, we are all consumers. Have you ever used Amazon to make a purchase? Do you subscribe to Amazon Prime? Now think about what you like about it. I bet it’s convenience, speed and efficiency right?
2020 catapulted us into the future
Most businesses have a sales methodology be they a B2C or B2B. The B2B methodology lagged for a long time, but that’s changed and fast. The Amazon effect is affecting how B2B brands handle their own sales cycles and user experiences to resemble eCommerce journeys as much as is possible. Moreover, people who have come to expect frictionless convenience in their consumer behaviour are now expecting frictionless B2B buying cycles as well.
Sellers are no longer the market kings
It used to be that sellers were market kings. Sales reps would hunt for prospective clients and pitch them. That just doesn’t work anymore.
Believe it or not, it’s the B2C buying process that actually changed all of that. People, be they consumers or customers, now proactively seek out specific solutions on their own. This phenomenon has been happening for a few years now but it has now become the norm. Those B2Bs who recognized the shift early on have done very well. Now everyone else is being forced to shift and they’re sort of behind the 8 ball so to speak.
Enter the new market kings ~ buyers
Buyers are now researching independently and with purpose. B2B selling had been slower to change in response to the shift, but we no longer have the luxury of time on our side. Long sales cycles via cold calls, and lengthy sales conversations with a sales rep have persisted in vain in my opinion. More often than not, people don’t answer external calls anymore and reps need to get past gatekeepers to speak with their buyer personae. This old push dynamic is coming to an end or has actually ended.
What we used to know is wrong
From the buyer’s perspective it’s all about how they feel about a business, their brand, their values, their competencies, how they consult and how quickly they understand the need. They will not care what you know until they know that you care. It’s just that simple.
Moreover, they’ve completed 90% of their own buying cycle by the time a sales rep ever gets to speak with them. This has been a fact for a few years now and it’s finally hitting home. The most regrettable part is, because so little attention has been paid to the buying cycle, the customer can often make a mistake in selecting the business to work with. We need to do better for our buyers.
What needs to happen?
Easy, user-friendly experiences directed by the buyer is what customers crave, and smart B2B sellers are starting to incorporate these best practices into their own pre- and post-sales cycles. If your marketing team is like most, it passes leads to sales and then steps back. Sound familiar?
There’s a better way to build sales and marketing success—and boost revenue. It starts with creative collaboration, and a change in the marketing and sales mindsets that is years if not decades overdue.
No more over the wall stuff. Marketing is an integral part of the sales cycle now. There’s no such thing anymore as a sales driven organization. We now need to think of marketing and sales as one single ongoing circular cycle of business growth drive. Marketing needs to evaluate their marketing channels with sales enablement in mind.
74% of B2B buyers say that purchasing from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative.
Yet, in a Harvard Business Review Article, the Corporate Executive Board [CEB] cites that having asked thousands of senior executives at companies around the world to describe the solutions purchase process in one word, they received responses like “hard,” “awful,” “painful,” “frustrating,” and “minefield.” They also found that a typical solutions purchase takes twice as long as customers expect it will or should.
The key ~ make it easy
Making it easy is very very hard work. But it pays dividends. Your Marketing and Sales team will need to work together to deeply understand the customer’s purchase journey; identify the most significant customer challenge at each buying stage and touchpoint; arm your salespeople with tools to help overcome each challenge; and trace the customer’s progress so that they can intervene at any moment to keep the process on track. Your goal is to uncover struggles that customers would have with any supplier and make sure they don’t have them with your business.
Here are some of the key steps to take:
- Develop your buyer personae for ABM
- Map the customer journey
- Identify all barriers
- Provide unbiased and credible evidence-based recommendations in your content at every stage
- Track customer progress through the journey and identify when to have a sales rep reach out with help, not to sell, but to help
Today’s best suppliers educate and help customers consider not just what to buy but how. Make your website as intelligent as possible, create digestible meaningful and educational content, help your customers with interactive copy and ROI calculators, and nurture them with quality experiences at every step.
Help them see and feel how much you care about their pain points and show them how you will address and solve them. I promise, you’ll win.
If you need help creating a success blueprint, I’m just a click away!