In 2017, much has changed in the way that B2B buyers go about seeking and purchasing solutions to their problems. What worked 40, 30, 20 or even 10 years ago, is far less likely to today. Traditional sales methods and techniques just don’t cut it with the savvy, informed modern buyer. So here are five ways that you can engage in modern selling, and help change your sales strategy to sell effectively in 2017 and beyond.
1. Help Them Educate Themselves
The modern buyer likes to do research on their business challenges and find solutions before they engage with a salesperson. And we know that the statistics back this up. A 2016 Demand Gen report found that 47% of buyers looked at between three and five pieces of content before choosing to engage with a sales rep. The same report found that 51% of buyers now rely on content to inform their buying decisions.
So modern selling has to involve having content available for your buyers as part of the buying process. The content could address the different questions they have at each stage of the buying journey. It could also answer their business challenges and questions that they ask your sales team directly. But in short, it should be available.
On average, 70% of the content produced by a business never makes it’s way into the hands of the buyer. That’s wasted budget, wasted time and a wasted opportunity. While your competitors are creating content that goes unused, make sure your sales team have access to any and all relevant information that can help your buyers.
2. Be Available On-Demand
There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in an on-demand society. From TV and takeaways, to online shopping and music, we’re used to having what we want, when we want it. And the fact is, it’s no different for your buyers. When a buyer can have nearly everything they want at a time of their choosing, why would they be happy to wait hours or days for a response, or an answer to their questions?
A study by Dr James Oldroyd into lead responses found that when a contact attempt to a lead was made within 5 minutes of the lead’s initial enquiry, the odds of reaching them were 100 times greater when compared to 30 minutes time having elapsed. The odds of that lead entering the sales process were also 21 times greater when they were contacted within 5 minutes when compared to 30 minutes.
Clearly, the modern selling process involves being as reactive as possible. This could involve using chatbots on your website, meaning you can answer any sales questions as soon as they’re asked. It can mean having content available on your website answering your buyers key questions, helping them educate themselves. It could mean something as simple as making sure the phones are always answered in your office.
However your sales team like to respond to leads and enquiries, make sure they do it quickly.
3. Give Insights, Not Just Information
B2B buyers today are more informed than they have ever been. They’re aware of their business challenges, and can easily seek information to help them overcome those challenges. In the past, if a prospect couldn’t find a solution through a referral from a personal contact, they would have to rely on a salesperson to help them along their buying journey.
You don’t need me to tell you that the internet changed all that. Now every prospect has a world of information at their fingertips, and they’re definitely doing the research they need to independently. Accenture’s 2014 study found that 94% of B2B buyers do online research before making a purchasing decision. They no longer require a salesperson to provide them with basic information about a product or service.
What your prospects still need are insights. They don’t need to know what the product does, but they may still need to be told how it helps them. The key to modern selling is understanding that today’s buying journey is ‘buyer-driven’. Rather than steering the process, the modern seller should learn where in that process that fit in, and where they can best help the buyer.
4. Listen and Respond
We’re all familiar with the old-fashioned stereotype of a typical salesperson; the smooth talking individual who’ll do anything to get a sale, regardless or not of whether it’s the best thing for the prospect. Today, that approach isn’t welcome, and it just won’t work either.
As we’ve just found out, the modern prospect is already informed and will likely know all about what the product can do already. CEB’s research found that 57% of a purchase decision is complete before a customer even reaches out to a vendor. So the role of the modern salesperson is now focused on listening to the needs of the prospect and responding in the right way.
That could mean providing content on request, case studies of work carried out for similar businesses for example. It could involve learning about who else might be involved in the buying process and finding a way to bring them into the conversation. It could even mean keeping an opportunity in the pipeline until the prospect is more ready to purchase. Ultimately it’s about listening to the needs of your prospects and responding in the right way.
5. Make Your Modern Selling Personalised
The modern buyer is inundated with marketing messages and approaches from businesses trying to sell their services and products. It’s believed that the average person receives 76 emails every day. So one important aspect of modern selling is finding a way to ‘cut through the noise’.
There are a number of ways that you can personalise your approaches to prospects, demonstrating to them that they’re not just another name on a long list of targets, but a valued account that you’d really love to start working with.
This could be doing a bit of research on their company, and referencing it in a conversation. Perhaps they’ve recently been through a merger, or have expanded into new office space, so mention that. It could also be personal information. You might have noticed that they’re fairly new in the role, or that they previously worked for one of your clients.
All of these little personal touches show the prospect that they matter to you. Not only have you taken the time to do some research on their business or them personally, this isn’t just a cold spammy approach like so many others that they receive.
If you need more insights into the modern selling process, what the modern buyer expects from you, or other actionable tips in order to create more sales opportunities and warm leads, download our e-guide – Sales Development: The Future of Lead Generation.