Lost in Translation the Language and Strategy of Selling vs. Buying for a B2B Company
By John Kennedy
All too often, companies define their markets in vague terms that fail to really connect sellers with motivated buyers. The problem with hurried target market definitions, weak buyer personas and a “show me the money” attitude is that this has not kept pace with how buyer behaviour has evolved.
The internet has changed pretty much most things in our life today. And it has also played a role in turning the buyer-seller relationship completely upside down. Today, the information that buyers need to make a purchase decision is just a click away. The power in the buying and selling process has shifted from the seller to the buyer.
But not all businesses have kept pace with this change in power, they still think that it is “buyer beware” – that as the seller you are driving the conversation with the objective of a quick sale.
The sales environment as a whole is witnessing a significant shift from the traditional method of B2B prospecting (outbound) to one that is more buyer-friendly (inbound).
As buyers – before we make a purchase decision, 60% of us rely on Word Of Mouth – friends – social media, 49% on customer references and recommendations, 47% on analyst reports, and 44% on media articles (source HubSpot Inbound Sales Report 2016).
There is a big challenge to shift this sales mindset from a “me focus” to a “buyer-centric” one. In today’s market, the buyer has already progressed considerably along the customer journey by the time they want to interact with the seller – they now control the conversation before, during and after sales – so welcome to “seller beware”.
A Seller’s “Point Of View”
Whereas some businesses may still be in the habit of viewing their prospects as numbers in the sales funnel, the newly empowered buyer can see through this, especially in today’s transparent digital economy. Companies should be looking at how they can transform their sales process to match the way people buy. By shifting your focus and impressing upon buyers the desire to offer advice first and foremost it can help open up the opportunity for constructive dialogue.
Typically B2B buyers do not have available all the details they may need to make a complex purchase, especially something that falls outside their own area of expertise. So there will always be a need to have direct sales contact especially for purchases that are long and complicated such as technology.
Many buyers have already entered the Awareness (just getting to know things) stage of the buying journey (see below) before they actually engage directly with sales. But if you cannot add any value to a sales conversation over and above what the buyer can source from self-research on the Internet, then you will have problems.
Educate, Don’t Sell.
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