Selling to On-Demand Buyers

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Most of us are well aware the world of B2B buying has gone through fundamental shifts in the last five to ten years. Why hasn’t the way we sell fundamentally changed as well?

We all feel the perception from buyers that, to them, all vendors and their products look pretty much the same (undifferentiated value). We know too well the difficulty of identifying and engaging new prospects in sales conversations (generating leads). Our CRM monitored sales process reveals protracted buying timeframes (longer sales cycles and higher costs).

I am amazed that for many senior executives I meet, a deeper appreciation of the implications of this transformation hasn’t occurred and isn’t translating into different strategies .

If you are a CEO, CFO or VP of Sales with over twenty years of experience, you come from an era of thinking about B2B marketing as famously described by John Wanamaker: “Half the money I spend on advertising (marketing) is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

You have lived the marketing and sales disconnect. Most likely, you never spent any time being accountable for marketing. To you, marketing focused on brand, PR, providing “air cover”, and collateral development. Most of which you found only marginally useful. The most useful support you received was probably event support.

You have difficulty even thinking of marketing as an investment on par with the investments you make to develop and enhance your core products or services. And your budgets reflect this bias.

But if you do not deeply understand the fundamental shift in your prospect’s buying process over the last seven years, and the implications for your go-to-market, sales, marketing, and support strategies — you, and your organization are at great risk.

Fundamental Questions

How well do you and your people answer these fundamental questions:

  1. Do you have a document that clearly identifies the stages your buyers go through to buy your kind of products and services — and are sales and marketing in total agreement with these findings?
  2. Do think your buyers find you, or that you find your prospects? (Tech buyer surveys indicated 80% of buyers believe they found vendors first.)
  3. What buyer questions and information requirements have you identified, validated and documented, that your buyers must answer for themselves at each stage to proceed to the next stage in their buying process?
  4. How, specifically, through content or in-person conversations, do you address those questions and information requirements? What gaps cause you to be disqualified, cause buyers to slow down, or abandon their buying activity altogether? (Look at losses due to “no decision.”)
  5. How often do you answer unscheduled inbound phone calls, emails, or meeting requests? Why do you think your prospects act differently?

These are questions we ask to which we too often get the response, “That’s a very good question.  I don’t know.”

Two credible sources (many more available upon request) should shock you into a weekend of reading to catch up on current sales, marketing and lead generation best practices:

Gerhard Gschwandtner is the publisher of Selling Power magazine. He writes regularly about changing selling models that address new realities.

Dave Kurlan is a highly regarded sales training professional. Ten years ago I introduced him to our services to help sales professionals use videos throughout the selling process to engage and educate prospects and to differentiate themselves. He looked at me as though I was speaking a foreign language. Look how much things have changed in Kurlan’s perspective: The Sales Game Has Changed and Here’s How to  Adapt

If you want further recommendations for your reading list, please contact me.