In recent years, the B2B sales landscape has changed significantly, becoming more complex and therefore more challenging.
Modern buyers have high expectations. Because of websites like Amazon, we've all come to expect information to be readily available at our fingertips. Even B2B buyers are acting more like consumers and demanding frictionless, convenient buying experiences.
For simple sales, e-commerce has emerged as the preferred way to do business, but buyers in complex selling scenarios still need a salesperson who adds value beyond the information buyers can find online. And they're not willing to wait around.
In short, the expectations for today's B2B sellers are high—but most aren't delivering.
In fact, Forrester found that 80% of buyers feel their meetings with salespeople aren't valuable, and that 75% think sales reps aren't knowledgeable about a buyer's specific business. What's more, according to a Harvard Business Review article, irrelevant, non-valuable information or content is what slows down opportunities in the early stages.
Clearly, today's B2B buyers want better buying experiences. But delivering them is easier said than done.
Here are five key things to consider as you enable your marketing and sales teams to exceed buyer expectations.
1. Deliver valuable content to drive sales
Content can stop conversations as much as it can start them. What kind of content kills deals? The kind that is outdated or irrelevant, the kind that doesn't demonstrate ROI or seems to have little to do with the buyer's business or even industry.
But the right kind of content opens conversations, delivers value, and offers insights.
Buyers want content that speaks to their specific challenges. The content may be in the form of videos that make a certain product or service come to life within a setting buyers recognize as similar to their own. Or it could be in the form of case studies of companies in comparable markets.
Whatever the type of content, its value lies in its ability to open a buyer's eyes and show them a solution they hadn't considered possible before.
2. Transform sales reps into trusted advisers
Buyers respond positively to sellers who can serve as a partner and not just pitch a product or service, results from Showpad's recent report, The New B2B Buyer Experience, confirm (disclosure: I'm Showpad's CMO).
Sales reps need to have a solid understanding of the customer's industry and the dynamics at play. Through continual education, training, and coaching, reps can reposition their roles, becoming trusted advisers whom buyers can rely on to find solutions to their business challenges.
3. Make it easy to share content internally and externally
We know that content is an important element of the sales process. As more stakeholders are involved in deals, especially as deal size grows, it becomes critical that content is easily shared both inside and outside of the company.
If potential customers have trouble accessing content or can't easily share with their colleagues, you risk losing deals. Sales reps need to ensure that all tools at their disposal help make the buying experience simpler and easier for the prospect.
4. Personalize whenever possible
Today's buyers have high expectations, and generic messages won't cut it. To be truly helpful, sales reps need to provide insight specific to their buyer's business challenges. Accordingly, the content a rep shares should reflect not only the buyer's industry but every relevant aspect of their business.
Content should demonstrate in specific terms how the product or service in question will deliver ROI and create efficiencies. If a sales rep can't demonstrate a true understanding of where prospects play in the market and the challenges they're looking to solve, it's impossible to develop trust. If buyers can see that you've done your homework, and your content is specific to them and no one else, it will be easier to see you as a partner to their success.
5. Don't underestimate the power of human interaction
The good news for today's sellers: despite an appetite for technology, today's B2B buyers still crave a human touch.
In our survey, B2B buyers say helpfulness is the most important quality of a sales rep; and top executives, in particular, say they depend on emails and phone calls from sales reps. Again, it's about building trust. They want to know there is someone behind the pitch who can relate to their needs and who has taken an interest in solving their problems.
Human interaction is not just about knowing your prospect's name but also making sure you know their business. Checking in often, actively delivering content that speaks directly to their needs, and responding quickly when they reach out are all ways sales reps can show buyers they are reliable partners.
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