How can you address a complex B2B sales process?
You have a product or service which does a fantastic job and creates a lot of value. But when you pick up the phone to introduce yourself and your company, that's where the challenges start. How you can you address the new complex B2B sales process?
84% of B2B buyers are now starting the purchasing process with a referral. With 90% of all B2B sales driven by peer recommendations. So, it’s clear that the landscape is changing and the needs of buyers are more sophisticated in today’s commercial climate.
A Changing B2B Sales Process.
In a recent survey, 74% of business buyers told Forrester they conduct more than half of their research online. All of this before making an offline purchase.
There are a number of challenges that buyers face when making a purchase decision. Factors that your business needs to take into account when creating content or training your sales team:
- The decision challenge – does the buyer have a full and robust decision-making process in place?
- Switching process – customers may not buy because they are unsure about the costs and changes involved if you are switching suppliers.
- VFM (value for money) – is the buyer able to measure the impact of your solution?
- Requirements list - that include implementation elements and employee training needs.
- Prioritised list of requirements to help them choose the right vendor.
Changes in the B2B sales process require a business to adapt their approach. They need to target a buyers’ specific needs and preferences throughout the buying cycle. Sales needs to adopt a buyer-centric approach selling the way that a customer wants to buy.
Helping leads research and gather information is a priority if they are going to provide relevant educational content.
Generating B2B leads both high in quantity and quality is a mountain we all set out to climb. The challenges have been made more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic, but lead generation is what keeps a business alive.
It can be difficult to know how to balance your efforts to attract leads and to develop a buyer-centric sales strategy. Being able to convert leads and address their preference to interact digitally rather than face-to-face.
Read more about how to form your own digital sales strategy, read our blog: The clock is ticking on shifting to a digital B2B sales strategy.
Why is it so hard to generate leads?
Typically, the company website is the first touch point with potential leads. Supported in parallel by the sales team, eager to get on with selling and developing their own leads pipeline.
But this "all hands to the pump" mentality can result in missed market opportunities and sub-optimal sales levels. Often as businesses we become frustrated that we are wasting time and money on marketing that does not appear to drive revenue. Or concerned that we are missing out on prospects or worried that the sales team is not getting the most out of the leads generated.
These are typical concerns for those businesses employing traditional selling methods in the B2B sales process.
How do I know if I have a sales problem?
- Inconsistent results - especially if you over rely on cold calling for new business development.
- Not remaining top of mind with your prospects or existing customers - because you do less educating and only make contact when you are selling.
- Not knowing how to connect with leads who aren’t ready to buy yet - and a lack of knowledge on how to turn this into an opportunity to advise rather than a "dead-end".
- Knowing how to nurture leads that are just starting their buying process - resisting the desire to go for the sale as soon as they do something remotely interesting.
Changing "all about me" to a Buyer-Centric Mindset
There are a number of ways to turn the conversation around from what you want as a business, to one which focuses on the customer’s needs:
- Use your sales content as a way to educate prospects so they can self-qualify for you.
- Set up lead scoring and workflows to ensure that you work on the best opportunities, and that you’re not missing out on any others.
- Become a trusted "expert" by sharing insights and offering advice for free - building your authority on the subject.
- Work together with marketing to nurture leads and learn how to recognize when prospects are open to engage.
- Implement and use a sales CRM tool to manage and record your actions.
- And think of sales as relationship building, people rather than decision makers and offering advice rather than closing a sale.
The first and most important step for developing an effectice sales perspective is to define the buyer's journey to be able to develop a "buyer-centric" sales process that places the buyer's needs first and foremost. According to Forrester, "We have to start thinking of customers in very specific terms. Company size is no longer a sufficiently informative lead attribute".
The key is understanding our customers business issues, interests, needs and pain points. 74% of business buyers told Forrester they conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase.
Identify warm prospects
Most buyers are at that phase of their buying journey where they are doing their own self-research. They are not interested in being contacted directly by sales.
As a salesperson focus first on those buyers that are active, who may have recently visited your website. Triggers such as filling out a form or opening a salesperson’s email are good signs. They have raised their hand to say that they are already interested to hear more. Talk to customers that are a good fit. Ask for introductions on LinkedIn and set up Google alerts to track key events that should trigger your interest.
Connect with the buyers needs
Your sales message should be tailored to the buyer’s situation - not yours. This context could be the buyer’s industry, role, interests, common connections, etc. A well-developed buyer's persona will help you understand the unique pain that they are looking to address.
Each persona will have a particular way that they will want to build a relationship, digital media habits and motivations. As most of these buyers are at the early stages of their buying journey, the goal is to educate them. Get them to recognize their symptons rather than selling a solution they don't think they need.
To learn more about how to work with a remote audience read out blog: How to adjust your B2B sales strategy for a remote audience.
Explore buyer motivation
Guide an exploratory conversation with your prospect to fully understand their challenges. What are the consequences if they fail? What solutions have they already had in place or have tried?
The objective is to present your solution and at the same time understand how the prospect will fund and manage their decision.
Advise and add value
Smart salespeople advise prospects on what would be the best decision addressing the challenges in the buyer’s context. A sales prospect will want to be confident that your solution demonstrates a strong understanding of their company, industry and specific needs.
Now is the time to craft a customized proposal that connects the prospects goals and challenges to your offering. You'll need to show exactly how they’ll benefit with your service.
Value selling can transform a complex B2B sales process - read more.
A new sales methodology
With so many touch points now in the sales process the sales cycle is becoming longer and more complex. Taking on an educational approach will not address all the reasons for the complexity in the sales journey. But it will help your solution stand out from the rest of the crowd.
So, the relationships you build through sales are what will keep your lead pipeline active.
If you want to hear more about ValueVisualizer™ or to hear how we can help you re-invent how to work remotely with complex value calculations, don't hesitate to book a Free Consultation: firstname.lastname@example.org