“People buy from people” is a sales mantra that’s been around for decades, so what’s changed? Quite simply, there is too much at stake for today’s B2B buyer to buy from you just because they like you. I guess in truth, the headline for this post should be titled “Why people don’t buy from people (just because they like them)”. I’ll be honest, this wasn’t quite as catchy, but it is certainly true.
So, let’s look at the what’s changed.
- Clients are busier than ever before
According to a recent Harvard Business School survey, 60% of smartphone users are connected to work for 13.5 hours or more a day. In Britain, 40% of managers say they put in more than 60 hours a week. Your clients’ time is precious and they can no longer afford long, unfocused lunches with salespeople.
- There are more decision-makers
Research from the CEB shows that there now an average of 6.8 stakeholders involved in every B2B buying decision. It doesn’t matter how much your client likes you, or how great that lunch was, none of the other people know you and all of them can say ‘no’.
- ROI is king
Performance is easier to measure than ever before. Your buyer is under pressure to deliver healthy ROI and if they fail to do so, everyone knows about it. They have to prioritise results over friendships.
So, if people don’t buy from people anymore, what does work?
The Rain Group’s ‘What sales winners do differently’ looked at 700 B2B purchases across multiple industries and asked buyers: “What are the winners of actual sales opportunities doing differently than the sellers who come in second place?” Here’s what they found:
Today’s busy buyers haven’t got time to simply make friends with sales people or listen to longwinded identikit sales pitches. They want every interaction with a salesperson to be worth paying for in itself. Today’s most effective sellers provide valuable ideas and insights during the sales process. These sellers become the value themselves.
- Collaborate to create compelling solutions
70% of buyers agreed that sales winners didn’t simply make a recommendation, they collaborated with them to craft a solution that appealed to all of the stakeholders within their business.
- Focus on results
Sales winners connect the dots between buyer problems and seller solutions. They convince buyers they can achieve maximum return, that the risks are acceptable, and that the seller is the best choice among all options.
People do still buy from people they like. However, sellers now need to bring more to the party than just a nice lunch and some witty conversation. Now the sales process itself needs to deliver value, solutions should appeal to multiple stakeholders and results need to be real.