We hear from salespeople all the time who think price is the most important factor to buyers, and loyalty from working with preferred vendors and partners no longer exists.
But is this true?
We brought together a panel of buyers for a webinar called Cracking The Buyers’ Code: Having Purposeful Business Conversations where sales professionals discover what it takes to earn their business, build strategies and, ultimately, earn their respect and trust.
According to a global study by CSO Insights of 500 B2B buyers in medium to large sized companies conducted to better understand what buyers wanted from salespeople, there is much more to it than price.
The survey indicated that four areas of unease consistently appeared at the top of all lists: understanding the buyer and their business, demonstrating excellent communication skills, focus on post-sale and providing insight and perspective.
The good news is that these are achievable. The bad news is that we have been focusing on these items in the industry for years and we are still missing the mark.
How do we bridge that gap?
It is clear to us that salespeople today have to be more strategic, proactive and brave!
Focusing on the top four areas from the study, our panel of experienced and insightful buyers gave us many great nuggets of advice and simple things you can do to earn their time and trust to take the conversation beyond price.
Let’s dig in to see what they had to say.
Understanding the Buyer and The Business
Our panel overwhelmingly agreed that, as a seller, you need to do your research to understand your buyer’s business!
Key Take-Away From Panelists:
- Do the necessary research in advance. That means learning about the buyer, their business and the industry before you ask for the meeting.
- Asking unnecessary questions that you should already know the answer to such as, “Tell me about your business”, shows your lack of research.
- Your research should include the size of the business, demographic, current product offerings, current competition, how it fits into the marketplace and its challenges.
- Understand how millennial buyers differ from experienced buyers and that your approach must address those differences to be successful.
- There is no such thing as knowing too much about the buyer or the business you are approaching!
Demonstrate Excellent Communication Skills
The CSO study indicated two main areas for improvement:
- Prepare for meetings and calls with formal material, not just informal check-ins.
- The buyer’s expectation is that every call is crisp and compelling. Every interaction has to be worth the time which means you must provide value to make it stand out.
Key Takeaways From Panelists:
- We received an overwhelming response from our panel that email is the most effective way to communicate.
- Make emails short and to the point, but powerful with information that differentiates you to create a compelling reason why the buyer should grant a meeting.
- Provide enough value to make your attempt at contact stand out especially in an email that is swimming in the inbox pool.
- Using a referral is one of the best ways to stand out because it instantly gives you credibility in the mind of the buyer.
- Engage in active listening so you can address the buyer’s actual wants and needs rather than what you think they want.
- Provide a business and marketing strategy to showcase how you will address their needs and grow their business now and in the future.
- Freely communicate both the good and bad news to the buyer which builds the buyer’s trust in you and cultivates loyalty.
- Ask great questions designed to extract information from the buyer that can help you come up with a short-term and a long-term vision for their business. Buyers stated they want to share more information about their business’ KPIs. Salespeople are too often afraid to ask business questions. Our panel of buyers encouraged sellers to ask the tough questions about their business.
- Always be prepared, provide pertinent information, and make it easy to work with you.
Focus on Post-Sale
What you do after the sale is just as important as what you do to get the sale in the first place. From what our panelists shared on this point, nurturing the post-sale relationship is a key component to build trust and loyalty with a buyer.
Key Takeaways From Panelists:
- Do what you say you are going to do. Follow-through and follow-up are important.
- Continue to be engaged with the buyer after the initial sale.
- Be willing to collaborate with the buyer on merchandising plans.
- Ask the buyer how you can be a useful resource to them.
- Envision the relationship as a partnership for a mutual short-term and long-term return on investment. Your post-sales actions are what can transition you from a vendor to a preferred partner.
Provide Insight and Perspective
This is the biggest opportunity to differentiate yourself and your greatest opportunity to exceed expectations.
You do this by taking a more consultative sales approach. Highlight your expertise and provide insight to show a buyer that you understand their needs and how your solution would solve their problem.
Key Takeaways From Panelists:
- Provide a detailed, comprehensive plan not just a sales pitch.
- Be proactive and knowledgeable about the product you are selling so the buyer can leverage that information.
- Tailor programs to the buyer and their business that are different than what you are presenting to other buyers or from what you are taking to market.
- Survey consumer trends outside the buyer’s business model. Buyers today do not have the time to do this, so they appreciate when a seller does.
- Sellers must bring ideas, shape vision and make buyers aware of solutions they had not considered.
In an era where more business models are removing salespeople from the equation, you must find ways to distinguish yourself to validate your relevance.
Price is only one piece of the puzzle and rarely the only determinant.
Your overall approach as a salesperson matters: providing effective and concise communication while demonstrating a marketing strategy showing short-term and long-term growth with continued high-level engagement throughout the process will make the difference.
Mastering these business conversation skills is exactly what we coach salespeople in at Teneo.
We are very excited to launch our new advance sales training programs, “Purposeful Business Conversations”, that will provide you with practical skills to master these business conversations to outperform your competition. Interested? Contact me and let’s talk! Email me at email@example.com.
Thought Provoking Question: Are you are interested in building the confidence that you, as a sales professional, need and buyers want to see?
Your Teneo Challenge: In your next three customer conversations, focus on their business rather than your products and price – by asking at least three to five more questions about their business. You’ll be amazed how much you change the conversation and earn more respect and business from your customer.
Contact us to learn how you can become masterful by being more strategic, pro-active and brave in all your sales meetings!
Lisa is a Certified Sales Professional with Distinction (CSP²) and is an accredited training partner with the Canadian Professional Sales Association. Lisa carries the distinction of being the first female speaker to earn the dual designation of Certified Sales Professional with Distinction and Certified Speaker Professional in North America.