Shifts in B2B buying behavior create an incredible opportunity for sales organizations that embrace a 24/7, multi-channel, data-driven, customer-centric approach. A recent McKinsey report, outlines the key expectations of the new B2B buyer.
Gone are the days when strong relationships with one or two decision-makers, or simply nailing the RFP process, held the keys to success.
Purchasing involves more decision-makers, more touch points, and more communication channels. B2B consumers are also using the same social channels the B2C buyer is using to influence decisions.
1. “On average, a B2B customer will regularly use six different interaction channels throughout the decision journey, and almost 65 percent come away frustrated by inconsistent experiences.”
A single sales person no longer “owns” a particular prospect. B2B buyers will access information about your company from your website, review sites, news outlets, forum discussions, your marketing department, and your sales team. They may text, call, Tweet, download resources, complete online calculators, and send email at various times in regards to a single purchase. If these communication channels are not coordinated, the sales team has little hope of closing the opportunity.
2. “There is no longer such a thing as a simple cold call.”
Business buyers expect sales reps not only to be extremely knowledgeable about their own products and services—they expect them to be knowledgeable about the customer’s personal and professional profile as well. Especially among Millennials, who represent a growing segment of B2B buyers, the expectation is that your team will take the time to learn about the prospect and understand their individual needs before picking up the phone.
3. Social channels can have an “invisible”—yet powerful—impact.
Business buyers are increasingly influenced by sources that are completely out of your control. The opinions of influential bloggers and conference speakers amplified by the social voices of attendees can impact the sale before you’ve even made the first call.
4. Cross-functional and expanding teams of decision-makers are ushering in a new era of “modular” RFPs.
Many executives and purchasers request information in modules, so that diverse teams can examine the service, finance, product, and other elements of the deal separately. Sales teams must be prepared to deliver exactly the right packages of information at the right times to the right people.
To succeed in this changing landscape, sales organizations must embrace new sales channels, and double down on understanding the customer’s needs. More than ever before, taking the time to study, listen, and understand the customer’s expectations at every stage of the journey is critically important.
A sales team that’s audible-ready to articulate value and differentiation in a way that’s specific to the B2B buyer’s needs will make the difference between teams who thrive and teams who don’t.