Sun Tzu and The Art of Sales, Part 3 Understand Your Environment
Updated: Jan 16
The business to business sales environment is changing. These changes impact how sales people connect with prospects and position their products and services. Buyers are becoming better informed and because of that the power in the purchase process has shifted from the vendor to the buyer.
It is important to understand these changes and how it impacts what buyers expect and how you can adapt your sales and marketing strategies to match the needs of today's B2B buyer.
Here are the six biggest changes in today's sales environment that are affecting sales programs.
1. Increased Complexity
Last week we touched on the fact that a buyer's buying process has become increasingly complex. Decision makers are faced with increasingly complex problems, and they often engage a growing number of solution providers to find the right solution. Because of this the number of stakeholders involved in the buying decision continues to increase. This has lead to the advent of the consensus sales where it takes 5-6 decision makers to agree for a sale to occur.
2. Customers Don't Have Time For You
Hyper-connected decision makers are buried in work and have more work than time to get things done. This means that they are in a constant state of prioritization, deciding what to do item is most important at that particular time. And even if they know they have a problem, it is easier and more time effective to treat the symptom than spend time talking to your sales people.
3. Relationships Matter Less
The days of relationship selling are dead. As customers become busier and the sales become more complex, achieving results quickly drives everything. The stereotypical sales activities, going out for dinner, golfing, lunches and don't do anything to get the customer closer to a solution. Customers want sales people that can come in, identify the problem and provide a solution. But not all relationships are bad. Relationships are still effective if they allow you to teach a customer and help get them to their goals or after the sales
4. More Perceived Risk
Buyers increasingly need to feel confident that they made the right buying decision. Increased access to information is fueling this anxiety and causes decision makers to second guess themselves. They are increasingly afraid to commit and potentially miss out on a better option or vendor. B2B buyers are also looking for ways to mitigate risk to their career. Buyers fear reduction in job security and damage to professional credibility.
5. Sales People Lead The Sale
In the past, the customers set the pace and drove how the sale progressed. But in today's business environment, decision makers don't have the time to do all the work and manage the sales process. They expect their vendors to come to the table prepared to discuss the issues and present innovative approaches and techniques to solve those issues.
6. Greater Social Influence
Social media is no longer just a business to consumer sales tool. Increasing numbers of B2B buyers are using social media as a research tool. This includes following potential suppliers, using social media to engage their peers in conversation, and using the recommendations of their social media networks to impact their buying decision.
The attitude of decision makers has changed and they now have higher expectations regarding their interactions with sales people. What once worked, works no more. And the change isn't slowing down anytime soon.