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26Jan2018

Why “yes” doesn’t mean YES

It used to be the case that once your customer said “yes” it was just a question of time until the order came in. It’s not like that anymore.

Why?
B2B buying has changed. Return on investment is easier to measure than ever before so when buyers mess up everyone knows about it. At best this can mean a dented ego, at worst it could mean the sack. Buying has become risky.

So how have buyers reacted?
Well, they have become much more risk averse. The sales person’s biggest competitor is no longer a competitor- it’s inaction. It’s the buyer deciding to stick with the status quo because to change is just too risky.
Brave buyers look to spread the risk by involving as many of their colleagues in decisions as possible. Research from the CEB shows that there are now 6.8 stakeholders involved in every B2B buying decision. That’s an additional 5.8 people to sell to, and, ultimately an additional 5.8 people that can say ‘no’.

So, what does that mean for today’s B2B salesperson?
Today’s best sales people have a new approach. They view everything from the client’s perspective and focus on making it easy for them to buy. They recognise that change is risky for the client so they look to minimise that risk by focusing on the client’s KPI’s and challenges. Today’s best sales people don’t just sell to their customers- they help them become rock stars.

So, what are they actually doing differently?
These sales people know more about the client’s business than the client themselves. They put their challenges into the context of the wider market and help them overcome them by teaching them about the behaviour of their audience. They focus on achieving the strongest result for the client even when that means challenging and pushing back and they collaborate with clients to co-create solutions that appeal to all stakeholders.

Whilst “yes” no longer guarantees a sale for most salespeople, today’s top performers have adapted their approach to ensure that their orders continue to come in.