“73% of sellers don’t naturally have the skills to create the experience that buyers want”, according to CEB Global. Further, it found, “the sales experience drives 53% of customer loyalty — more than all other loyalty drivers combined.”
Today’s buyers are looking for salespeople who bring unique and valuable perspectives when they are considering a product or solution. A buyer wants help:
- Navigating alternatives
- Understanding risks whether known or unknown
- Learning about and tackling their specific business problems
- Overcoming internal barriers to gain buy-in
- Building confidence that the solution will solve their needs
The first step to create a buyer-focused sales experience is a cultural shift away from a traditional seller or product-centric mindset. This simply means placing yourself into the shoes of the buyer and learning what jobs they seek to perform to avoid pain or achieve gain in their personal and business roles. If you consider that most buyers aren’t full-time purchasing professionals so getting guidance to help them buy effectively is highly valuable. Especially in situation where risks and investment are high. Prior to procurement jumping into the process, if your company can create a marketing and sales process that supports the buyer and leads them into solving their needs, you’ll gain a champion to help work through the transnational focus of procurement.
One element that can drive a cultural shift towards becoming more buyer-centric is marketing and sales collaboratively digging into understanding what buyers are trying to achieve including:
- Personal & business pains/gains
- Measures of success
- How they do research
- Who and what influences them
The immediate and actionable outcomes from these insights should be the development of personas and the mapping of the buyer’s journey.
Armed with these buyer insights, CEOs need to empower marketing to take greater responsibility and accountability for engaging buyers earlier in their buying journey. The B2B market transformation towards more informed buyers, requires marketing (and sales) to come in and find ways to engage buyers in the earliest part of their decision making process.
Multiple studies from Gartner, Forrester and others concluded that today’s B2B buyer is roughly 45% to 70% of the way through their buying journey before speaking with a salesperson.
Of course there has been plenty of debate whether these studies are accurate. But the point is not whether the percentage always holds true, the point is that buyers are changing, how they buy is changing, how they gather information is changing, expectations of sales people are changing, and the value sought during the sales process is changing.
Therefore, it’s marketing’s job to help inform, educate, enable and equip buyers earlier in their journey to steer them into the sales process. Although a buyer may find your company and speak to sales regardless of earlier engagements, this often leads your sales team to work reactively against the standards set by competitors who were engaged earlier with the buyer.
Getting out ahead with a combination of targeted outbound and effective inbound marketing developed upon a buyer-centric foundation will help support the type of experience buyers want. Maybe not easy for most engineering-led companies – but building an experience the buyer wants is required to succeed in today’s B2B markets.