The New Reality of B2B Selling
The world of B2B sales has been turned upside down. The new reality of B2B selling has given customers access to enough information that buyers rely far less on a sales rep to educate and influence them early in the buying process. And online suppliers can influence many buyers toward their products with targeted and low-price offers.
According to Forrester Research:
- 78% of users research products and services online before they buy
- 54% of B2B buyers begin the buying process with informal research around business challenges
- Buyers are 66% to 90% through their buying journey before they reach out to a vendor
What Does This New Reality of B2B Selling Mean?
With the sales process often beginning and even ending online, many business customers can decide and buy without speaking to a salesperson. Our solution selling training participants tell us that getting involved so late in the buying process is making it more difficult to demand premium pricing, upsell value-added services, and differentiate their offerings during the sales process.
For sales teams that want to stay competitive, the new reality of B2B selling means they must update their sales approach and sales process. And, to stay competitive, many sales forces will need to make those adjustments quickly.
What You Must Do
Here is a list of the “must do’s” if you want to generate repeatable and profitable revenue:
- Be Crystal Clear About Your Target Market and Value Proposition
Agree upon where you should win the majority of the time and develop a sales strategy, sales culture, and sales approach that differentiates your offerings in that market. By matching your ideal target customer with your unique offerings, you can streamline your sales and marketing approach to best fit your target customer needs and wants.
Rather than marketing and selling in too many directions, having a clear target market and a unique value proposition that resonates with those customers helps to focus your sales force in a direction that is most likely to succeed. The goal is to align your sales force to best address the key needs of those customers with lasting upside potential.
- Ruthlessly Prioritize Your Sales Efforts
Be ruthlessly selective about which sales opportunities are worth your while and how you pursue them. While it may seem counterintuitive, you do not want your sales team to chase every sales opportunity – only those with a high probability for success based upon your target client criteria and value proposition. Nothing is worse than having the second best poker hand because you chased a client opportunity outside of your sweet spot capabilities or price point.
Then, based upon your ability to understand their goals, problems, needs, budgets, alternatives, constraints, and timeline, you need to focus on the most winnable opportunities with the greatest upside. Use MQL and SQL ratingsto convert more sales prospects and use strategic account plans to protect and grow current accounts.
- Align Marketing and Sales
Although Sales and Marketing used to have rather distinct functions, the differences in their responsibilities for customer outreach and sales are now intertwined. Make sure that both groups are on the same page with their messaging, roles in the customer acquisition and retention process, and their accountability for providing and following up on good leads.
This includes taking a close look at how you are reaching, selling to, and supporting current and prospective customers. The goal is to fully align Sales and Marketing to drive profitable growth.
- Hire the Right Sales and Marketing Team
With the new reality in B2B selling, you are likely to find that you need a new mix of skills in your sales and marketing teams. Most successful organizations are building up their online marketing, messaging, inside sales, and consultative sales capabilities to better serve clients who are buying differently.
Sales is now more about client-centric solutions that fit unique customer needs than taking customer orders or touting product features and benefits that can easily be found online. Make sure that you build a sales and marketing team that fits the new solution selling reality.
- Monitor and Reward Performance
The final piece is to ensure that your sales team members are acting and behaving according to the new norms and meeting key performance targets. Monitor, coach to, and reward their attitude, activities, aptitude, and fit for your sales strategy, culture, and process. A high performing sales team always knows where they stand and receives consistent and frequent sales coaching.
The Bottom Line
Even though Forrester’s research suggests that salespeople are not as valuable as they used to be, 70 percent of B2B buyers report wanting to involve a sales rep during the exploration stage to help them work through high stakes and complex buying challenges. Is your sales team set up to recognize and adapt to the new way of winning business?
To learn more about how to better help buyers work through high stakes and complex buying challenges, download 30 Effective Sales Questions More Important than Budget