Understanding how buyer behaviour and expectations have changed and are driving the future of sales. In a VUCA world, buyers do not have time or patience; they devise ways to block these interruptions. If a seller is not adding value, then they are no longer considered part of the buyer’s solution, but part of the problem. Unless sellers genuinely understand the buyer’s world, their preferences, concerns and expectations, then they cannot add value in solving the problem. The opportunity to add value is wrapped up in the buying experience.
TOPO’s research shows that companies that deliver excellent buying experiences grow twice as fast as companies that provide average experiences. Excellent buying experiences produce more traffic, higher conversion rates, larger average deal sizes, shorter sales cycles, lower churn, and more customer referrals; consequently, growth is accelerated.
4 Ways to Focus on What Matters Most to the Buyer
The buyer’s world is more complex and uncertain; building trusted relationships is more apparent. Sellers must be actively listening and open to play a part in the value-adding experience and to see where it takes both parties. If sellers go in with a sales agenda, the buyer thinks “you do not know me enough to know what I want and need,” the client inwardly questions the seller’s motives. Trust is gained through an emotional experience, and if there is any doubt in your sincerity, you will not win the buyer’s favour, and ultimately the deal is lost. Trust is developed with every touchpoint and breeds confidence and security in the minds of the buyer. To foster your buyers’ trust, you must be self-assured, which means knowing yourself and your product differentiators in relation to the buyer’s micro and macro environment. Sellers must be reliable and transparent; the fastest way to erode trust is by exhibiting self-interest rather than empathy and personalisation.
CEB research found that the best companies don’t win deals through the quality of the products they sell, but through the quality of the insight they relevant provide as part of the sale process.”
Buyers have an abundance of information, creating overwhelm and confusion what they need is quality insight. In the past few years, B2B buyers have followed B2C trends, in leveraging the internet and social media. The internet has changed the way we buy products and services, B2C influences B2B because people have the same expectations of service, whether personal or business. No longer are buyers willing to be interrupted with sales adverts, cold calling or cold emails, the buyer now has a glut of readily available information, quite literally at their fingertips and they choose if and when to engage in the conversations that they see as valuable.
A Forrester Research study found that buying executives valued sales interactions that focus on solving their problems: “63% of executives surveyed agreed that a salesperson who understood their business problems and offered a clear path to solving them was valuable.”
Connections between people supported by social technologies have become more valuable as trusted sources of information. People do not trust companies; brands must work hard to develop and maintain trust; however, people do trust other similar people. Being personal in your customer service and your sales is essential because your buyers and customers engage with individuals. Business two business is people, two people!
At the same time, the number of people involved in B2B purchases has climbed from 5.4 to 6.8 in only two years. It is a consensus decision which means more personalities and preferences and longer sales cycles. ‘The resulting divergence in personal and organisational priorities makes it difficult for buying groups to agree to anything more than “move cautiously,” “avoid risk,” and “save money.”‘
Sellers are required to step up and engage in a two-way relationship with buyers and customers, fulfilling the notion of personalised professional ‘friendship’. If any member of the buying group feels undervalued, they’ll unfollow or worse disengage from the relationship and buying process. If sellers forge a relationship which feels authentic, personalised and genuine, then the buying process will flow.
Twenty years ago, the customer experience would end when the customer left the store; now, customers interact all day every day with their favourite influencers and brands online. As a result, customers feel more like friends than a sales opportunity for a commercial transaction.
In a recent survey of ‘business-to-business’ buyers that were spending between £2,000 to £5,000 on a purchase, 53% of them said that they made their decision based on the buying experience, and not on the price, or the product features and benefits.
In another study by the CEB, the sales experience is worth 53% of the buyer’s likelihood to purchase, to deepen the relationship with the seller, and to become an advocate to others.
A Forrester survey from 2012 showed that only 37% of brands received good or excellent customer experience index scores. The vast majority, 63%, got a rating ranging from OK to very poor.
The businesses that make their buying process easy and creates excellent buyer experiences not only keep existing customers relationships happy but turn their customers into advocates for their product and brand.
Being closer to the customer, salespeople must take responsibility for their demand generation and develop deeper personal relationships with existing customers and gain more prospective customers. If you want to improve critical revenue results, then give your buyer what they want and expect – a great experience and take your buyer-centric selling process to the next level.
Janice is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management. She is passionate about helping companies adapt their sales approach to the economic, social and technological challenges. This has led her to create the popular the sales enablement system, Scale Your Sales. Janice is the international Strategic Account Sales Speaker, author and consultant, achieving many noted accolades including Sage Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice today about Scaling your Sales
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