A B2B sales strategy used to be simple: discover the buyer’s needs, then offer your solution.
But now buyers’ expectations have changed, largely because of their experience as consumers. Consumers use a variety of tools, from social media to web search, to research and make purchases; some even allow their in-home digital assistant or internet-connected appliance to shop for them. And shopping brings instant gratification, as delivery is nearly immediate. If you need to replace a light bulb, you could evaluate and select the right option from hundreds of choices and have it delivered within hours in some instances.
Compared to this simple, streamlined B2C experience, B2B sellers don’t measure up. Sixty-two percent of buyers find that sellers merely meet their expectations, and 77% of buyers don’t see sellers as a business resource, according to the 2018 Buyer Preferences Study from CSO Insights. Sellers also have less opportunity to engage buyers—70% of buyers delay seeking sellers’ assistance until late in the buying process—so there is little chance for sellers to differentiate themselves, influence buying decisions or forge lasting relationships.
These delayed, attenuated interactions form a self-fulfilling prophecy that we call the “buyer apathy loop,” buyers’ neutral opinions of sellers are reinforced by their interactions, and sellers have less involvement in the decision-making cycle. To avoid becoming even more marginalized, sellers must take proactive steps to break the apathy loop.
In this, the second blog in a series exploring market trends that are disrupting sales, we take a closer look at how perspective helps sellers capture buyers’ interest and build stronger customer relationships.
Three Ways That Sellers Break the Apathy Loop
- Looking for situations that are complex, challenging or risky
- Focusing on decision-makers who are risk takers
- Exceeding buyers’ expectations
The one that sellers can most readily address is the third. Buyers find that sellers exceed their expectations when they offer four things:
- In-depth knowledge of the customer, their business and their industry
- Superior communication skills and interactions
- A focus on what happens after the sale
- Perspective and insights that advance the buying process
Perspective is the differentiator that matters the most
What Is Perspective?
Perspective isn’t a sales tactic, a set of questions or an asset to use to win more deals. It’s a core principle of a formal selling methodology, such as Strategic Selling with Perspective that sellers weave throughout their customer relationships.
Perspective combines mindset, experience and insight. It adds value to the sales process while building sellers’ credibility and helping them engage more deeply as problem-solvers with their customers.
Sellers who offer perspective report 12% better win rates—while sellers who excel at perspective jump to 23% better win rates—and are four times as likely to have deeper customer relationships, according to the CSO Insights 2018–2019 Sales Performance Report.
Sellers provide perspective by identifying one of four value drivers for sellers:
- An unrecognized problem
- An unanticipated solution
- An unforeseen opportunity
- A broker of capabilities, meaning the seller provides a service or information that transcends what they ordinarily do
The problem is, salespeople are so pressed for selling time already that it may be hard for them to invest time in the research necessary to develop their own insights.
How to Get Perspective
Sales organizations need a content engine, governed by a sales enablement strategy that delivers content (e.g., playbooks, value messaging and case studies etc) designed to help sellers generate perspective that resonates with stakeholders. And all of it needs to be organized around a content strategy aligned to each phase of the sales cycle.
Sales organizations with a formal, aligned content strategy report stronger sales results than those that don’t, according to the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Enablement Report:
- 33% of organizations that excel at content strategy have 12.2% higher win rates
- 25% of organizations that effectively use value messaging boast 11.6% higher win rates
- 24% of organizations that tailor content to their sales approach report 8.9% higher win rates
Perspective helps sellers differentiate themselves and their solutions. Providing perspective is a hard skill to master. The key is for sellers to help their buyers achieve success. Doing so builds sellers’ credibility and turns them from a vendor into a trusted solution-based partner.
To learn how perspective fuels sales methodology, sign up for our live webinar at 11:00 AM (CST) on Wednesday, September 18. Miller Heiman Group CEO Byron Matthews will reveal why sales organizations that embrace perspective win more deals and discuss how to create a consistent, repeatable sales process that delivers better sales results.
Save your seat now: Register for the 2019 Marketplace Trends webinar.