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26 May 2016

6 facts and stats B2B sales people cannot ignore

Flume have picked out 6 of the most important stats, facts and insights that B2B salespeople cannot ignore. These ideas shape everything that we do and below we share a few ideas on how to adapt to the new reality of sales.

57% of your client’s decision is made before they ever pick up a phone to speak to you or any other supplier. (CEB)

Clients are looking to overcome challenges and achieve the results they need. Once they have identified the issues or objectives they will begin the search to find the right solution for them. This stat is scary for salespeople because what happens if we haven’t been in a position to influence the client’s decision-making process early enough? However, do not fret – there are ways to ensure that you are one of the lucky few suppliers they do choose to work with…

82% of buyers viewed at least 5 pieces of content from the winning vendor. (Forrester)

Content is everywhere but the key to successful content marketing is ensuring that it has to lead your clients to you. You may have valuable insights or thought-provoking statistics to share but unless these start your client on the path to choosing you then there’s a danger that your hard work could end up winning the business for your competitors. How can you ensure your content leads to you and you alone? Firstly, identify your true USPs. You may only have one USP or you might have several but it’s important that no other competitor can claim them. Why is the client not prioritising your differentiation in their business? What is the impact on the client’s business of not prioritising this differentiation? What will the client need to learn about their own business in order to prioritise your differentiation? Whatever the insight turns out to be, this could be the foundation for your potentially game-changing content piece that drives clients to you. We recommend reading CEB’s excellent book Challenger Customer for more depth on the power and practicalities of creating and leading with insights.

53% of the reason why they choose to work with you is down to what they get from the sales experience itself. (CEB)

The “sales experience” refers to everything you do with your client. Despite what clients often say, cost is not the most important factor in deciding which supplier they work with. They need decisions they make and the actions they take to work. When your client’s boss asks them why they chose to work with a particular supplier, saying “it was the cheapest” is not going to cut it. Today’s top sellers understand that clients want to work with sales people who prioritise client results and focus everything they do to that end. The reality is, you are the differentiator.

The number one thing clients want from salespeople is to be educated on new ideas and perspectives. (Rain Group)

Today’s top sellers are teaching their clients how to navigate their challenges and achieve their desired results. One powerful method for teaching clients is coaching; you encourage them to come to the right conclusions through structured, logical (but not scripted) questioning. Other successful methods for teaching include the use of research and insights as well as storytelling. The clearer it is to the client that their current approach or beliefs are not going to help them achieve their goals, the greater their urgency for change. If you have the solution to help them then you are in a very strong position.

The key challenge for clients today is understanding how their customers (your audience) buy and how to positively influence that process. (Regalix)

Research produced by Regalix shows that (for a number of years now) one of your client’s top priorities has been trying to understand how their customers (your audience) make decisions and what messages and media platforms to use in order to influence that process. If you were wondering “what can I teach my clients?” then this is one example. It may seem obvious but it is remarkable how little the audience is considered when putting together effective campaigns. Clients and salespeople will often stick to what they know, what they’ve done before or what they hear is the latest and greatest approach in the market. In reality, the only reason why a campaign will work is because it is right for the audience and will progress them towards choosing your client’s solution. Help your clients navigate the complexities of their customer’s decision-making process, the right messages to use and the best platforms for delivery.

5.4 people are involved in the average B2B buying decision today. (CEB)

This number has almost certainly gone up since it was first published and the impact on sales is huge. Each of these decision makers will influence the outcome of the sale and the more people involved, the harder it is to win the business. It will probably take longer for the decision to be made, too. The reality is that selling to your personal contact is only a small part of the process. Successful sellers work with their contact in order to navigate the buying process quickly and successfully, putting together powerful proposals that sell to the group, not just their contact.

So, what are the main lessons to be drawn from the above?

  • Focus on your client’s results because that is what they care about above all else.
  • Deliver insights that lead clients towards choosing you. Start with your USPs but make sure the insight itself is focused on their business.
  • Help clients make the best decisions; don’t just sell them what you’ve got, make what you’ve got work for them.
  • Work with your contact to build packages that work (remember the audience) and then work together to sell-on effectively within the client’s business.
  • Make sure your proposals are written for the decision-making group. Your personal contact should be bought-in to the solution, it’s the other “4.4” that count.

At Flume we are committed to helping B2B sales teams adapt to the modern buyer. To see how your sales team measures up against what good looks like in sales, read our Sales Performance Framework here.

The Flume team are here to help so if you would like to get in touch you can contact us here.