Buyers Hold The Power & Here’s What That Means For YouLet's Talk Sales Podcast
As the B2B marketplace changes and customers do their own research, they no longer need us to help make a buying decision. Building credibility is key for creating connections with buyers and driving revenue. In this podcast interview, I talked with Elizabeth Frederick about how B2B startup founders should be approaching building their market.
As a salesperson, how do you make authentic connections with B2B buyers in an ever-changing marketplace?
In a world in which most B2B buyers do extensive research before reaching out for a meeting, how can you retain some measure of control in the sales cycle — particularly with enterprise clients?
Sales is a lot more complicated than it was 15 to 20 years ago, and marketing-sales alignment has never been more crucial. But on an individual level, what can you do today to become a more effective salesperson?
I shared some ideas about exactly this with host Elizabeth Frederick on an episode of the Let’s Talk Sales podcast. Read on for highlights of a discussion about building credibility as a salesperson.
This article is based on an episode of the Let’s Talk Sales podcast by Criteria for Success.
“The traditional buyer’s journey is shifting. Buyers want to make purchases their way — and it probably doesn’t neatly fit within your sales funnel.”
“Sales pros can no longer rely on their database of contacts to close a sale. These days, an audience is the new form of currency.”
“Niching down is a powerful way to foster relationships in your industry and become known. But you might want to pick an “underdeveloped” niche to further differentiate yourself.“
In B2B sales, the buyer has the power.
News flash: Gone are the days when the vendor held all the power in the marketplace.
Now, the power lies with the buyer. Buyers want to make purchases their way — they don’t care about their place in your sales funnel. They want resources and information that aligns with where they are in their buying journeys.
In fact, by the time they reach out to you, they’re probably pretty far along in that process. Some studies suggest that B2B buyers are usually about 57% of the way to a buying decision before actively engaging with a vendor.
Gartner reports that sales reps now have just 5% of a customer’s time during their buying journey. This lack of time coupled with shifting buying dynamics, as a result of buying behavior and the process going digital, has turned the strategic focus of sales organizations on its head.
That can spell doom for an enterprise sales team with a 15-step funnel. And that’s why buyers increasingly ghost or get lost in a never-ending sales cycle.
The bottom line? Your sales process needs to be adaptable. If you don’t give buyers the resources they need — at whatever point they are in their decision processes — you can kiss your sales goodbye.
Embrace the new Rolodex.
About 20 years ago, a Rolodex stacked with a stream of relevant industry contacts was worth its weight in commissions. Now, not so much.
It’s not that it isn’t helpful to have these relationships, but the market has changed. People switch jobs more frequently and it’s more common to transfer within a given space or even between verticals. Relationships matter, but having a large number of contacts doesn’t guarantee anything in today’s sales climate.
These days, an audience is key. It’s like a new form of currency. It’s a shift from having 15,000 people in your contact database to having an audience that wants to react and engage with your new post on LinkedIn.
Employers love this because it demonstrates that a seller knows the marketplace and understands industry trends. When a sales pro can add value to conversations, customers are more willing to listen — and more willing to close.
The takeaway — don’t underestimate the power of “dark social.” Those are the conversations you simply can’t track: the discovery of a product based on a colleague’s LinkedIn post; the recommendation you get in a text message or a DM. Buyers use this information to make purchasing decisions.
Remember: There is no B2B, it’s H2H (human to human)!
Pick a niche and own it.
If you’d like to be the kind of salesperson pursued by amazing companies, fielding great job offers left and right, identifying a niche is key.
If you happen to work in an “unsexy” industry — one that doesn’t get much press or attention —you might find it easier to become a thought leader among your peers. You become the salesperson who owns that particular sector.
No matter what you sell, I encourage you to become a subject matter expert and speak directly to your customer. For example, if you offer a product for cardiologists, consider starting a podcast and interviewing cardiologists who are enthusiastic about technology. It might take some legwork to find them and book them on your show. But more often than not, they’ll be up for talking to you.
A podcast can not only help you create valuable content for LinkedIn, but give you an opportunity to connect with the buyers you seek. Relationships are work, but they’re the best way to open doors in sales.
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