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With the Internet, the Great Recession, and intensification of competition in many industries, the way buyers buy has changed. Buyers are busier, they have more choices, and they are better informed than ever.

So what are the companies that are bringing in new customers and growing their accounts doing that's different?

To find out, we went to the source: buyers themselves. We surveyed over 700 B2B buyers responsible for $3.1 billion in annual purchases. We wanted to know what the winners of actual sales opportunities are doing that's different from what others are doing. We published the results in our new book, Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently

Seven factors rose to the top as those that most separate winners from second-place finishers. These are what tipped the scales in favor of the selected provider:

Although those factors directly relate to what the seller did during the sales process, there are four core ways Marketing can help support Sales to do those things.

1. Connect buyer needs and your company's solutions

"Listened to me" and "understood my needs" were the No. 4 and No. 5 factors, respectively, among those that most separated the winners from the rest. Factor No. 7 was "crafted a compelling solution." It's often Marketing's role to understand buyer needs and develop materials and insights that hit on buyer hot buttons. Most companies, however, leave it up to individual sellers to come up with all the ways to match needs to solutions.

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image of Mike Schultz

Mike Schultz is president of RAIN Group, a global sales training and performance improvement company, and director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research. He is the bestselling author of Rainmaking Conversations and Insight Selling. He also writes for the RAIN Selling Blog.

LinkedIn: Mike Schultz

Twitter: @mike_schultz