B2B Sales: Know Your Client Before Selling
In business to business sales, knowing your client is one of the keys to success.
One of the strategies that help salespeople the most these days is profiling. Building a client profile works by asking questions, listening to needs, and getting to know customers on a different level.
However, the sales process wasn’t always this way.
Let’s take a quick look at the old sales model to see why it’s crucial in today’s B2B sales landscape to know your clients well.
B2B Sales Used to Be Simple and Predictable
If a company needed a service or product, someone from the office would call a potential supplier and talk to a salesperson. The conversation always ended up with the salesperson pitching the best available options. If the buyer was happy with the call, that’s another sale for the day.
Marketing would take care of the leads in the sales funnel. The sales team would drive these leads into a sales pipeline and convert them into sales. Predictable.
Nowadays, it’s a Lot More Complicated
Based on a report by Forrester, 59% of buyers prefer to research a product or service, instead of dealing with a salesperson. The reason? Salespeople always have an agenda, and they tend to push it, rather than try and help solve the buyer’s problem.
Today, when a company needs something, someone in the office goes to Google and conducts preliminary research. The scope of the initial inquiry is extensive, and it offers a myriad of possible solutions.
The sheer volume of information overwhelms the researcher, which makes him turn to:
- Colleagues, peers, family, and friends
- Social media
- Forums on the subject
- Click on related ads that pop up because of his research efforts
- Companies that offer a free trial or money-back guarantee
During the course of this journey, the researcher might fill out some forms for access to free products or a free trial. The buyer then makes a decision based on everything that happened and either buys the product outright or gets in touch with sales.
With the influx of information, today’s sales process is a lot longer, and buyers are 60 – 90 percent finished with the sale before making a call.
In the old sales model, the salesperson was always in charge of the entire sales process. Why? Because the salespeople possessed all the data and specifications. Clients often knew next to nothing and relied on the salesperson. Also, as we all know, information is leverage.
Clients of the past didn’t have Google and the internet to help with their research. All they had to go on was the company’s reputation and the salesperson as their primary source of information. This situation gave salespeople tremendous power to:
- Influence a sale
- Sell an addon
- Pitch an entirely different product
Guess What? Most Clients Didn’t Like It
Fast forward to 2019, and the entire sales process has all but evaporated. The balance of power has shifted from the salesperson to the client. Today, only 29% of people want to interact with a salesperson to learn more about a product. 57% of all buying decisions happen even before clients contact the supplier, and in most cases, buyers don’t get to talk to a salesperson at all.
Playing the Long Game in B2B Sales
With the sales process turned on its head, what is an effective business to business selling strategy?
Businesses today should have consultants that aim to educate, not salespeople wired to pitch. Helping potential clients by educating them about your products is a far more effective strategy than forcing a sales pitch.
Here are some strategies your company can use for a more effective sales process moving forward.
· Extensive Product Knowledge
You need to know what you’re selling like the back of your hand.
· Know Your Competition
Study the field and get to know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. Use this as leverage for clients that seem to know it all.
Always be well informed on trends and changes in your industry. In the age of the internet, you must always be a Savant and know more than your buyers do.
· Listen and Ask Questions
Try to talk 30% of the time and listen to your client for the remaining 70%. Listening and asking the right questions will help you know precisely what the buyer needs.
· ABQC: Always Be Qualifying Clients
A little research on your client will go a long way. Make sure you are always dealing with the decision-maker. Information is leverage, and any extra information you can get via research or a background check can help with your closing efforts.
· Add Value by Teaching
Customers are always looking for value, whether they fall under the B2B or B2C segment. Add value to your pitch by educating your clients, rather than selling something to them. Of course, don’t forget to close!
The sales game has changed, and it now favors the buyer who wields the most accurate information. The buyer now leads the dance, and B2B companies need a change in strategy to become a willing dance partner. However, being a mere partner won’t cut it these days. People are looking for more value before coming into a transaction.