A recent HBR study of hundreds of technology buyers found that during the buying process, only 18% of sales professionals are trusted.
Another recent survey from HubSpot confirms that only 3% of technology buyers trust salespeople.
The State of Sales 2017 report found that buyers ranked trust as the single most influential factor in the buyer/seller relationship.
With changing buyer behaviours providing fewer opportunities for personal face two face interaction, trust must be built in the online digital environment to create offline opportunities.
Today buyers avoid the ‘sales hustle’ instead, they want to talk to sales advisors interested and invested in the success of the buyers’ business. The sales advisor must actively listen, discover the buyer wants and needs to provide relevant and timely insight rather than more information.
The whole quota target sales environment plays into the ‘sales hustle’ destroys trust and is contrary to building trusted relationships. Sales professionals can no longer pressure buyers to buy on the seller’s timeline. The buyer does not care that the representative’s quota is closing at the end of the month and neither should the seller, that is if they want to build long term trusted relationships. Quotas send the wrong message to the sales teams working in a customer-focused culture. There are more creative ways to measure and monitor success.
The Role of Sales has Changed
Traditional sales tactics have lost their efficacy because the ‘sales hustle’ does not match up with the modern buyer expectations. The connected economy, information and technology enablement us driving change in the sales industry that unfortunately is not lead by the sales but by the buying sector.
86% of B2B decision makers say they would engage with sales professionals who provide insights or knowledge about their industry, this is over and above what they already know.
Prospective buyers seek credible advice, expert insight and an outsider’s perspective during their information overload consideration stage of the buying process. Buyers do not only research the companies and their solutions, but they also consider the customer experience, if the information is from a credible source and if the sales professional delivering the information have relevant insight and authority. Buyers increasingly research the sales professional’s personal reputation and values and value informed and respected experts as credible sources of information.
Sales professionals must help buyers make the best decision at the right time for them and the customer. If a buyer isn’t ready to buy, the seller must have a well prepared online and offline engagement process that the seller is confident will keep the front of mind and keep the buyer engaged as their decision-making process progresses.
Failure to deliver new insights and relevant guidance, then the sales professional risks oblivion in the crowded, competitive market. Relevant research into a customer’s plans and the buyer’s vision of success will reveal how they can help the buyer to deliver the best outcomes and create the most significant impact.
Buyers want to talk to the sales professionals who can challenge their mindset, help shape their understanding, and guide their decision. Positioning your sales professionals as sales consultant advisors rather than sales reps, if backed up with value giving experiences, promotes the value-adding role and gains the trust of buyers.
After their solution finding research, buyers have expectations that when they talk to sales professionals they will not be sold too! At this consideration, stage buyers want to have their specific questions answered usually around price and how the product works for their unique circumstances. Sales professional must meet their buyer expectations and create a positive experience if they’re going to progress in the buying process.
The Role of the Sales Consultant Advisor
Discovering what the buyer already knows is the first step, the sales consultant advisor must share advice that is new to the buyer, educating them on the potential opportunities, the measured outcomes and possible impact of the solutions on offer in the competitive market. The sales consultant advisor must ask questions that help the buyer to eliminate competitor offer and expand the scope to create the buyers required outcomes and more significant impact.
Buyers are impressed when sales consultant advisors display a detailed understanding of the market, comparing the seller products against the competition in terms of the quality, price, availability and other buyer relevant criteria.
Although the buyers today well informed compared to 10 years ago, they are still missing crucial information that only a sales professional can provide. the logistics; such as how long an integration/implementation process will take, or how long until the customer sees measured results, or even if the product is the best fit for their ideal organisational outcomes and maximum impact.
The sales consultant advisor can identify the potential sticking points and hidden requirements that build trust and demonstrate the investment in the customers business success.
The better the sales consultant advisor can simplify the decisions by offering credible insights tailored to the buyer’s specific wants and needs, helping the buyer move forward with confidence.
The consultation process of aiding navigation, building trust and making it easier to weigh available options, will deepen the trusted relationship based on the personalised experience and expertise demonstrated by the sales consultant advisor.
The 4 Ways to Build Long Term Lasting Trusted Buyer Relationships
If sales consultant advisors deliver what buyers want and then more of what they need that creates more significant impact in the customer business, then sales won’t be so difficult to negotiate, and the buyer trust will be gained and maintained. The good news for sales is if the online content has done its job of creating relevance and keeping in the buyers front of mind, then buyers will want to meet with the sales consultant advisor during the consideration or opportunity gaining phase, this is the best time to capitalise on the relationship building opportunity to build trusted long term customer value.
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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