Our schools are still modeled after factories and provide industrial-era education in many aspects. What else can we expect from other areas of human activity? It takes time to notice something has shifted in the air and you need too. You would think that the business world is more progressive and sensitive to change. However, direct sales techniques common in the door-to-door sales days have not been transformed much, apart from going digital, and have remained a staple for many businesses. The B2B sales force continues to rely on traditional sales strategies, sales talent performance, and quota attainment. It is difficult not to notice though that the digital age has arrived and brought many innovations. Social media have gained popularity. Customers have gained their voice, values, and opinions. Sales have moved online. It has introduced new trends that are not going to end any time soon. The very nature of what customers buy today has transformed. Here are three stages of the buying process these days:
- Products. There were times when customers would come to a shop to buy a product based on its characteristics and price. It used to be a technical sale where sales reps could win a client over with some knowledge, sales skills, and advice.
- Solutions. The stage of solution sales arrived when sales reps came to an understanding that complex combinations of products and services would bring them more revenue. Customers did not have access to information that would help them make an informed decision without sales reps’ assistance.
- Experiences. New ways of sharing information and a changed B2C landscape have pushed customers to value their experience over other aspects of sales. Now customers are eager to buy sales experience more than just products and solutions.
A shift in buying behaviors initially manifested itself in business-to-customer sales. The development of technology ushered in data access, instant response, multiple channels of connection for one brand, on-demand support, and peer reviews. And those customers who had that new buying experience have become professionals and transferred their expectations to business 2 business sales. A rapidly growing number of B2B buyers now want to find all information they need online without as much as talking to sales reps. The difficulty B2B sales organizations are facing now is a need to address both the familiar request for products, services, and solutions and the emotional needs of buyers. Although sales reps are now meeting B2B needs of providing high-quality products, reasonable prices, and engaging experiences, they also need to meet common human needs like belonging, security, pleasure, anticipation, and curiosity. Not all businesses are ready to face the challenge, but true professionals have a proven record of an exceptional B2B sales experience.
What Does Change Imply for Your Business 2 Business Sales?
The fact that changes in business 2 business sales are in full-swing means for your business that you’re losing revenue if you don’t climb on that b2b sales experience bandwagon. Companies embracing new sales trends are growing three times faster than their less progressive peers. Even more, new trends don’t imply higher costs. In fact, experience selling business models are linked to 50% lower costs.
So, what B2B buyers are looking for in an end-to-end sales experience?
Personalization. Sellers should not forget that they engage with humans who want to have as pleasant b2b sales as they have b2c purchases. Whereas personalization in face-to-face sales is quite straightforward, b2b sales get tricky due to scale. You will get assistance in tailoring your interactions and offerings if you leverage data analytics and widen your range of contract types, including not only long-term support contracts but also month-to-month options.
Speed. Speed refers not only to how quickly your sales reps and marketers reply to messages and emails but also to the availability of self-service and self-education journeys on your online platforms. B2B customers want to access content and order online easily and quickly. They want a single point of contact and plenty of opportunities to browse the website with as little human interaction as possible.
Outcomes. A focus on value-based outcomes means that buyers expect sellers to form partnerships with them and solve their product-related problems each step of the way. Now it is not enough to be customer-centric in general. Deep involvement and integration are needed. It may involve greater involvement in the post-sales customer experience. A growing number of businesses and industries are adopting an approach of value-creation and deep investment in customer success.
What Should You Do to Shift to Experience Selling?
First and foremost, you have to leverage data science and customer and sales analytics. Relying on predictive data science models you’ll be able to develop buyers’ personas and ideal customer profiles. From customer and partner data to sales metrics, you will use a variety of tools to base your decisions and see opportunities. Upon seeing the customer journey in numbers and statistical data, you’ll align your customer interactions with customer needs and expectations. Using data-driven strategies you will:
- Reimagine the buying journey from the lens of customer experience
- Streamline the sales process to deliver the right customer experience and engagement
- Adjust the seller experience to improve customer experience
- Modernize the sales operations function to be more flexible and analytical
However, the main shift is to change leaders’ mindset. As you can see, it takes a business not only to invest in some analytical tools. Sales team leaders and marketers, as well as executives, have to start seeing that the conventional solution-selling method is no longer working as effectively as it used to be. There is no need to keep solving the same old problems. Customers are different now and their problems are different too. However, being obsessed with numbers and quotas, sales team leaders find themselves uncertain of change. As long as sales reps are making quotas, their leaders will feel it unnecessary to change that much.
Ready to Rethink Your Sales Processes?
We have seen a gradual shift in what customers buy. The role of sales reps is shrinking. Customers are increasingly getting self-sufficient and independent in decision-making. Self-service portals get more popular than human-to-human contact before making a purchase. From buying products, customers passed the stage of buying services and now arrived at buying experiences. Definitely price and features still matter. Service and needs satisfaction are still important. However, personalization, outcomes, and speed have taken priority over other things. It doesn’t mean that businesses are free from creating competitive products. It just means that competitive products now have to be packed with the right experience. If you are ready to abandon the traditional playbook and don’t know how, consult professionals in top-notch lead generation services. At Belkins, we don’t just develop effective solutions and tools (i.e. we have Folderly, our own email checker and super software for email deliverability). We also are aware of long-term trends and devise customized approaches tailored to fit the client’s needs.