Sun Tzu and The Art of Sales, Part 4 Understand the Impact of the Environment
Updated: Jan 16
Last week we looked at six ways the environment business to business (B2B) sales representatives operate in has changed. It is important to understand not only these changes but also how these changes have impacted the activities of buyers and sellers during the sales process. The risk to salespeople if you don't understand how the environment impacts your adversary (your client) or yourself is that you will use strategies based on an out of date thought process. And those strategies will either dramatically slow the sales process or completely derail it.
Here are three ways today's selling environment has impacted the seller and buyer.
1. Buyers are further along in the buying process before they ever engage a sales person.
The increasing amount of data available through the internet allows buyers to determine their specific buying criteria, identify potential vendors and even rule out vendors or products that don't meet their buying criteria before meeting with any salespeople.
Not only has research increased but video has become an increasingly important part of that research. The Google 2016 B2B Buyer's Survey Report shows that 70% of buyers use video in their research process. Most buyers are watching 30 minutes or more of that content, while one in five watch an hour or more.
2. "I want it when I want it."
When buyers are ready to talk to a sales person, they are ready right now. According to the Demand Gen Report, buyers expect speedy, helpful service, almost three-quarters (70%) of those surveyed said “timeliness of a vendor’s response to inquiries” was one of the reasons they selected the winning vendor. Successful sales people in today's environment are more responsive and show a greater sense of urgency when interacting with clients.
3. Sales messaging doesn't fill the buyer's need anymore.
Educated buyers need more than the standard sales pitch from their sales person. To sell to today's buyers sales people need to be able to execute a consultative process where they provide new insights regarding the buyer's business. Buyers have access to all kinds of vendor data before a sales person engages them. Today's sales person needs to be able to help them sort through the messaging and understand which option will help them.
Part of this understanding includes proof that what the sales messaging says the product or service will do is actually what will happen. This proof is even more important when the solution being presented is technological in nature. Today's sales people need to be prepared to discuss the results other clients have achieved from using their product.
Today's buyers are more empowered and educated, and have higher expectations than ever before. Because of this traditional sales strategies will continue to decline in effectiveness. To see continued success, sales reps must continue to adapt to better serve the needs of the modern buyer by understanding buyer personas, adding value to the conversation, and engaging buyers as soon as possibe in the buying process with content that fills the needs of their buyer.