In 2018 we saw the continuation of an evolving B2B environment, buyers continue to change and take ownership of the way that they seek and purchase solutions to their problems! What worked 15, 10, or even 5 years ago is not going to get you anywhere today. Traditional sales methods and techniques simply don’t cut it with the savvy, informed modern buyer.
If you want to avoid the same fate as the dinosaurs – check out the five ways that you can engage in modern selling and make sure that your sales strategy transforms into a customer centric experience that will thrive in 2019!
1) Help Them Educate Themselves
Your modern buyer loves to do hands on research around their own business challenges; to find a solution before they engage with a salesperson. Research shows that at least 47% of buyers looked at between three and five pieces of content before choosing to engage with a sales rep, and that 51% of buyers actually rely on content to inform their buying decisions. (2016 Demand Gen report)
So modern selling has to involve having readily available content for your future customers that supports and educates during their buying journey. This means that your content needs to address the different questions that arise at the different stages of the buying journey. But what does it mean to really support your future customers? You need to be able to answer their business challenges. And as the expert, highlight challenges that have potentially been overlooked. It goes without saying that successfully doing this requires a huge commitment to being customer centric, and taking the time to know exactly what value means for your customers.
It starts to make sense that content marketing has sky rocketed across the board to provide the value that modern buyers are actively looking for! The problem is that in the mad rush to produce content, quality is being sacrificed, and with it, value to your customers. On average, 70% of the content produced by a business never makes its way into the hands of the future customer! That just screams wasted budget, time, and opportunity.
You need this content available, but just as importantly you have to put the effort in to make it truly valuable! So if you don’t already have it, consider putting in place a system as to where your sales team are aligned and communicating regularly with marketing; to create content that reflects the evolving needs discovered through your sales conversations.
Sales and marketing alignment and making sure you have the content that your future customers care about is one of the initial stages of any successful ABM campaign, which is one of the reasons why ABM is sweeping the floor with traditional marketing!
2) Be Available On-Demand
There’s no getting away from the fact that we live in an on-demand society. Whether it’s TV and takeaways, online shopping or music, you’re used to having what you want, when you want it. Naturally, your future customers are the same! So why would your future customers be happy to wait days or hours for a response or even an answer to their questions? They aren’t! And you can bet that your competition is just around the corner, available on-demand.
A study by Dr James Oldroyd into lead responses found that the speed with which you reply to conversations with future customers drastically effects the outcome. Replying within 5 minutes of an enquiry makes your chances of reaching them 100 times greater when compared to replying after 30 minutes. And, the odds of the conversations started within 5 minutes turning into a sales opportunity are also 21 times more likely.
This ties in very closely with why you need to have the content your future customers’ want, ready to go when they need it. It’s all about showing how much you care and nothing says you don’t care more than slow responses!
Want to be quicker? Use chatbots on your website, invest in great supportive and educational content, or simply ensure your phones are always answered quickly. People buy from the people that they think like them, so start proving that your future customers are at the top of your priority list with timely responses!
3) Give Insights, Not Just Information
It’s easier than ever for your future customers to access information around their business challenges, and the solutions to overcome them. Previously, if they couldn’t find a solution through a referral from a personal contact, they would really have no option but to speak to a salesperson to guide them through their buying journey.
Now every future customer has a world of information at their fingertips, and they’re definitely doing the research they need to independently! 94% of B2B buyers do online research before making a purchasing decision. (Accenture 2014) So naturally, what your future customers need from a salesperson now has changed; you need to provide more than information and cold sales, you need to provide relationships and insights that add value, and build trust.
They don’t need to know what the product does, you should instead focus on highlighting how it eases or solves their problems, or even achieves their specific goals. Once again, the key to modern selling and success in 2019 is to understand that today’s buying journey is buyer-driven or customer centric. Your role is to get creative on how you can support and educate them during the process!
4) Listen and Respond
We’re all familiar with the old-fashioned stereotype of a typical salesperson; the smooth talking individual who’ll do anything to get a sale, regardless or not of whether it’s the best thing for the future customer. Today, that approach isn’t welcome, and it just won’t work.
As you have just found out, the modern buyer is already informed and will likely know all about what the product can do already. CEB’s research found that 57% of a purchase decision is complete before a customer even reaches out to you. So the role of the modern salesperson is now focused on listening to the needs of your future customers and responding in the way that offers the most value.
That could mean providing content on request, case studies of work carried out for similar businesses for example… or, it could involve learning about who else might be involved in the buying process and finding a way to engage them in the conversation. It could even mean keeping an opportunity in the pipeline and nurturing the account until the future customer is more ready to purchase. Ultimately it’s about listening to the needs of your future customers’ and responding in a way that always keeps their requirements in mind.
5) Make Your Modern Selling Personalised
The modern buyer is inundated with marketing messages and approaches from businesses trying to sell their services and products. It’s believed that the average person receives 76 emails every day. So one important aspect of modern selling is finding a way to ‘cut through the noise’. Your challenge will be making sure that your carefully crafted message, packed with value, stands out from your competition enough to grab attention.
Your future customers will be over the moon to have a conversation or receive some content that is of genuine value to them, with a personalised approach that puts them first!
There are a number of ways that you can personalise your approach, demonstrating to future customers that they’re not just another name on a long list of targets, but a valued account that you’d really love to start working with.
For example, do a bit of research on their company, and reference it in your conversations. Perhaps the shape of their business has recently changed, a merger or period of growth, a new workspace or maybe even new leadership, something that you could only say if you were doing business with them! All of these little personal touches show the prospect that they matter to you.
Conversations That Win the Modern Sale
You may have noticed as you read through the blog, that a lot of the points start to overlap? If you hadn’t, spoiler alert, they do. The 5 ways to delight the modern buyer all have one thing in common, and it encapsulates what you need to take away from this (if nothing else)!
Which is, that your future customers all want the same thing, great business relationships built around service, and added value on the things that they can’t already do for themselves. If you don’t adapt in order to give it to them, your competitors will soon enough!
The time of cold sales conversations is coming to an end, customers know what they want before they approach a solution.
You need to shift to a customer centric approach, which isn’t easy, but is exactly the kind of approach you can expect when doing ABM (if you aren’t already, get on board!).
If you have any questions about what it means to sell to the modern buyer, or any comments on what we have covered in this blog, please do email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below and I will happily discuss with you.
Thanks for reading!
For more on Modern Selling techniques have a read of our blog on Segmenting Your Target Accounts for ABM: