Just as the world is constantly changing, so too is the way that B2B Buyers buy.
The biggest shift has been and will continue to be related to the vast amount of quality data that is now available on the internet. This vast resource of valuable information has made it much easier for buyers to gather the information that they think they need in order to make intelligent purchasing decisions and this in turn has led to fewer opportunities for sales people to get in front of their customers and to influence those buying decisions.
According to Gartner, when we look at the whole time that a B2B buyer spends considering which purchase to make, only 17% of that time is actually spent with potential suppliers…..if they are comparing multiple suppliers, then the time with each individual supplier might be as little as 4 or 5%. That’s not a lot of time for a sales person to make an impact, especially when we consider the amount of classic sales activities they need to get through; rapport building, educating the customer, finding out about their needs, aligning and communicating the value of their solution, negotiating etc.
Many businesses think that this lack of access is down to the individual sales person’s ability to get in front of the customer and to communicate value quickly and effectively enough when in reality, numerous studies show that problem is far less to do with the sales person’s struggles to sell and far more to do with the customer’s struggles to buy.
The B2B’s customer’s buying journey
Research tells us that in complex B2B sales, the customer’s business has, on average, 6 – 10 decision makers armed with 4 or 5 pieces of information about possible suppliers and potential solutions. In order to make an effective decision, these buyers need to work together to assess and quantify the information and opinions that they’ve already gathered between them, at the same time as including the constant stream of new information readily available from other suppliers, the internet, technology etc. This is no easy task and never before has the term ‘complex sale’ been more apt.
In order to be able to navigate a complex sale, it’s important that sales people really understand the journey that B2B buyers need to go through in order to make a decision and the steps they typically take. Sales people also need to recognise, that this journey isn’t linear – B2B buyers may return to previous steps time and time again and they value suppliers that are able to facilitate this journey smoothly.
To make an impact with a B2B buyer there are some key things that sales people need to remember:
1. The process of buying is hard and complicated for the buyer – they have lots of information to work through and the sheer volume can mean that they inadvertently exclude the sales person from the process
2. Research shows that buyers really do need help from sales person at all stages of the buying process, in fact customers who perceived the information that they received from suppliers to be useful were 2.8 times more likely to experience a high degree of purchase ease and three time more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret
3. To compete effectively, sales people should focus on providing customers with information that is specifically designed to help them to complete their buying activities at the right times during the buying process and beyond the sale