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To Be Successful in B2B Sales, Your Solution Must Address One of These Three

 

b2b sales driversYou may be selling a tech solution, advertising, accounting solutions, whatever. But what are you REALLY selling? All too often, those of us in B2B sales overcomplicate our value proposition, working in too much marketing jargon and hype.

But when you think about it, there are only three real drivers that a B2B buyer looks for in a B2B solution (whether consciously or subconsciously). Every single B2B sales transaction can be reduced to one or more of the following three drivers:

  • Save or Make Money
  • Speed Up Cash Flow
  • Increase Efficiency

I know I’m drastically simplifying it, but these three simple motivators are what B2B buyers are truly looking for – the most pertinent decision criteria behind every B2B sales decision. Take note here, folks. Does your value proposition address one or more of these three? Or are you (inadvertently) fuzzing up your message with guff about technical descriptions, obscure features, or otherwise impertinent buzzwords that pervade the sales-speak of B2B sales people?

We’ve developed B2B lead generation programs for many, many clients, and one of the absolutes we’ve come to accept is that a solution must address one or more of these three simple issues. So how can companies adjust their B2B sales strategy to address these fundamental drivers?

Save or Make Money

One of the old B2B sales maxims is that you should compete on value, not price. Don’t kid yourself. There’s usually some competitor offering a better price. However, if you can address value and also offer prospects a cost savings, you can probably get your foot in the door.

On the other hand, if your solution helps clients increase revenue, it’s imperative that you properly demonstrate how. Your B2B sales life depends on it. If prospects can’t draw the connection between your solution and increased revenue, you’ll be sunk.

Speed Up Cash Flow

If cash is king, then cash flow is the kerosene that keeps the electricity on in the kingdom. Cash flow is one of the most critical components of success for a business. Quite simply, companies that don't have good cash flow management can’t make the investments required to compete effectively. The most likely B2B solutions that fall into this category of helping increase cash flow are accounting solutions that make it easier for clients to pay, invoicing solutions, and other accounts receivable solutions.

Increase Efficiency

This is you if your primary value proposition is one that helps your clients:

  • get things done quicker
  • reduces wasted time
  • and/or increases overall productivity

If this is you, efficiency may be harder to quantify so you need to be ready to quote specific details and statistics related to efficiency gains. Exactly how much faster can your solution help get things accomplished? Specifically, how much does your software solution increase productivity and decrease wasted effort? Can you put a dollar value on that? Time is money. Demonstrate to your customers how your solution helps realize better value from their resources. Do that and you can earn that precious sales appointment.

Which of these core drivers does YOUR solution address? Feel free to leave us a comment below.

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11 Stats that Offer Evidence of the Resurgence of Direct Mail Marketing

 

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Guest post by Brian Cooper of DNI Corp.

The reports that print media and direct mail marketing are dead, well, those reports are greatly exaggerated. In fact, the data suggests quite the opposite – there is in fact a resurgence in direct mail.

Why? There are lots of reasons. The main driver is that print has been supplanted by digital (email, social media, etc.) as the primary communications medium. So, in essence, direct mail as a marketing medium is different and fresh again.

At DNI, where one of our primary solutions is direct mail and mail design, we see live, real-time evidence of this trend in the explosion of demand for our solutions. Think about it this way: Since digital messaging is now the norm, many have become disenchanted with email pitches, e-newsletters, and other digital mediums. Thus, they’ll pay closer attention to well-executed print pieces. Fifteen years ago, our mailboxes were cluttered and now it’s our email boxes that are cluttered.

In our experience executing direct mail campaigns, another reason for the rebirth of direct mail is that advances in digital printing technology have made the production of print pieces less expensive and far more flexible.

Enough about why there’s been a resurgence, and let’s offer you a few amazing statistics that corroborate that resurgence:

  1. Cost per order or lead for acquisition campaigns stood at $51.40 for direct mail, slightly less than for paid search ($52.58), post card ($54.10), and email ($55.24). (Source: Direct Marketing Association)
  2. The response rate for direct mail to an existing customer averages 3.4%, compared to 0.12% for email. (Source: Direct Marketing Association)
  3. 50% of people say they pay more attention to direct mail than any other media. (Source: Ritter’s Communication)
  4. 50%t of U.S. consumers prefer direct mail to email. (Source: Epsilon)
  5. 40% of consumers say that they have tried a new business after receiving direct mail, and 70% have renewed relationships with businesses that they had previously ceased using. (Source: Ballantine)
  6. Traditional marketing tactics are not dead. 74% of B2B marketers rate direct mail as very effective, while 72% say the same about live events and 71% call email marketing critical. (Source: Earnest Agency)
  7. 85% of consumers sort through and read selected mail pieces each day; 75% of consumers are examining mail more closely; 40% have tried a new business after receiving direct mail. (Source: Ballantine)
  8. Direct mail — yes junk mail via snail mail — still reigns supreme, offering response rates of 1.1 to 1.4% versus 0.03% for email, 0.04% for Internet display ads, and 0.22% for paid search. (Source: Direct Marketing Association)
  9. Direct mail has the highest rate of success in new customer acquisition at 34% compared with other marketing channels. (Source: Target Marketing)
  10. In the B2B market, 79% of professionals consider direct mail to be “effective” or “very effective”. (Source: Deluxe Marketing Services)
  11. Four-fifths (79%) of consumers will act on direct mail immediately compared to only 45% who say they deal with email straightaway. (Source: Direct Marketing Association)

Given the surge of print popularity, how can organizations use this new-again tool to benefit their businesses?

Contact DNI for some great ideas on direct mail execution.

brian cooper dniBrian Cooper is the Sales and Business Development Lead at DNI Corp. DNI Corp’s integrated service model recognizes delivery as an essential part of any communications strategy and seeks opportunities for partnership and collaboration with their clients throughout the entire creative development process. Allow DNI Corp’s experts to provide a vision for adapting to the changes in how your customers want to be communicated with. Their multi-channel delivery model will provide print and electronic solutions that will give your customers the flexibility to choose how they receive documents and make payments while providing improved efficiencies and cost savings to your organization. Connect with Brian Cooper on LinkedIn. Connect with DNI Corp on LinkedIn.

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5 Practices B2B Sales Pros Can Steal from Top Recruiters

 

Guest post by Peter Reticker from HR1 Services

b2b sales recruiting recruitersRecruiters live and die by the calls they make each day. Not only do they drum up business by cold calling potential companies to see if they can help fill open positions, but they also take to the phones to find candidates for those positions. Recruiters conduct 99 percent of their business over the phone, so naturally they have to become cold calling experts.

While the rise of the Internet and social media has transformed recruiting efforts as much as they have other industries, anyone prospecting today should remember some basic tenets for success.

Leverage LinkedIn

Use LinkedIn and take advantage of the wealth of information it has to offer. With the amount of information on LinkedIn about people and their careers there is no excuse not to utilize it.  We don't sell a product so we have no inventory. Our business is in part about having information about people, companies and career opportunities. Having some basic information about the people you are connecting with certainly can make for more productive and meaningful conversations.

When mining LinkedIn, however, be sure to set a time limit. Don't let the Internet sap your time or lead you down a rabbit hole, which can easily waste half a day. Remember the task at hand.

Join Associations

While social media offers a wealth of information, don't forget to take advantage of trade associations, especially the ones that provide member directories. Member directories can be an unbelievable tool. Join associations where your prospects are and become involved. While some associations charge for their membership directories, they are an inexpensive and worthwhile investment.

Document your calls and content of your interactions.

Understand that every conversation and connection has value, if not today, tomorrow, so record details for future use and to enhance your relationships for today and tomorrow. If someone says no when you ask them if they are interested in hearing more, you can still have a good conversation, which when documented can be used later.

For example, a CFO might not be interested in a position because he has a 16-year-old daughter that he doesn't want to move from her high school. However, in the same conversation, he indicates he'd like to move to Florida when she graduates. Now you have important information to use in a later search. In today's transactional world, people lose sight of the connections and resulting information. It's not an original idea but seeing the big picture both short and long term goes a long way.

Follow Voice Mail with Email

When you make 50 to 60 calls a day, you are bound to get lots of voicemail. Go ahead and leave a message, but also follow up with an email. We follow up many voicemails with an email. Three months later, that person responds to the email because they still have it whereas they don't have the voicemail.

Remember, We Don’t Live in a Stagnant World

Don’t let the status quo be a permanent deterrent. If every salesman said, 'That person doesn't need my service or product, he/she already has one,' he'd never make a sale. When someone says they aren't interested today, we can still have a productive and meaningful conversation. By demonstrating to potential customers that we are not in business just for today and that we will be around when their circumstances change, we dramatically improve our chances and building mutually beneficial relationships.

peter reticker hr1Peter Reticker is search division director of HR1 Services, Inc., one of Georgia’s leading providers of employee services. With divisions in recruiting & staffing, HR management, benefit administration and medical billing, HR1 offers a turnkey back office solution to business in the health care industry.

To find out how HR1 Services can be of service to your brand, visit HR1 on the web or find HR1 on LinkedIn. You can also connect with Peter Reticker on LinkedIn.

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This Man Actually Sells Ice to Eskimos

 

selling ice to eskimos Our VP Demand Generation, Ric Riddle, and I were having some water cooler talk a few weeks back and he told me a story he had heard from Dave Sandler about a Westinghouse salesman that actually sold ice to Eskimos... well maybe not ice, exactly, but he sold freezers to Aleutian Eskimos in Alaska - you know, deep freezers and refrigerators and such.

First of all, I was flabbergasted that a person like that really existed and as we continued to talk, Ric told me why he was able to sell freezers to Eskimos that lived in some of the most treacherously cold regions in the world.

You might ask, "Why don't Eskimos just put their food in some sort of outdoor storage? It's free and it's sub-freezing year round." The challenge for the Eskimos was that their food was actually freezing TOO cold. It became hard as a rock and took too long to thaw for use. If left outside, the food would be brought to a temp way below normal freezers.

So, as it turns out, the Eskimos would purchase freezers to keep their food WARMER than the outside temperatures.

Epiphany.

There are two really interesting epiphanies I took from that story as I walked back to my office:

  1. People may not use your products in the way you think they might. It might be worth a little time to put together a thought experiment on how the most unlikely of prospects might benefit from your products or services.
  2. The core focus of selling should be the prospect's needs and not your product. Rather than explaining all the benefits of a freezer in the traditional way (it keeps perishable food cold), this salesman sought to understand first why the Eskimos needed freezers.

In The Practice of Management, Peter Drucker wrote about this type of sale. He said, "To sell the Eskimos a refrigerator to keep food cold, is finding a new market; to sell a refrigerator to keep food from getting too cold is actually creating a new product".

I wonder, have any of your customers used your products or services in ways that you hadn't thought of? Please share in the comments.

How to Draft a More Customer-Driven B2B Sales Proposal

 

b2b sales proposalsI was browsing through a secondhand bookstore recently and, as I usually do, I gravitated towards the business section. A book caught my eye – Strategic Proposals: Closing the Big Deal by Robert Kantin. My colleagues and I often talk about the importance of drafting a B2B sales proposal with the customer in mind and Kantin nailed it with this book.

A B2B sales proposal should be viewed as an extension of yourself, the seller. A great proposal can sell in your absence. They stay in front of the buyer longer than you do and they land on the desk of the decision-maker even though you’re not there.

Who do you look at first in a group photo? Yourself. When your college professor posted the test scores, who did you look for first? Yourself. Buyers want to see themselves in your sales proposal. They want to see how you’ve addressed their situation directly. Boilerplate proposals don’t address the customer. They’re too seller-centric.

Failures of the Seller-Driven Proposal

According to Kantin, the seller-driven (often boilerplate) proposal fails because it often:

  • Does not identify the buyer's situation or a grasp of the buyer's needs and objectives.
  • Makes only sweeping money-making or -saving statements.
  • Does not provide details on production, implementation, installation, etc.
  • Does not openly identify roles and responsibilities of both the buyer and the seller.
  • Forces the buyer to guesstimate total fees.

In a nutshell, seller-driven proposals fail to give enough attention to the buyer's unique position.

Customer-Driven Proposals Lead to More Sales

On the other hand, customer-driven sales proposals tend to hone in on the prospect's needs. A client-focused proposal can be a differentiator. It can sell when you’re not there, and it will inform exactly what it is you are going to do for the client. Essentially, customer-driven proposals bridge the gap between buyer and seller expectations. The prospect should feel like you understand their business, their challenges, and how your solution will fix the problems.

According to Kantin, customer-driven proposals enable the B2B sales process because they:

  • Require the salesperson to collect more information about the buying organization and its current challenges.
  • Require a precise description of the product being sold.
  • Define specific financial and non-financial benefits to the buyer.
  • Include a comprehensive explanation of how the product will impact the buyer's organization.
  • Define the business-related facets of the deal – fees, invoicing and delivery schedules, etc.

Anatomy of a Winning Sales Proposal

Kantin says, "The proposal, in the buyer's mind, may be a wrap-up of the entire sales process, clearly defining the buyer's needs, a reason for change, how the new product or service is going to make or save money for the buyer, as well as the application of the seller's product or service in the buyer's business.”

Some high points from Kantin’s tips on how to create a winning proposal:

  • The proposal has a descriptive title. I would add bonus points for having the name of the prospect organization in the title. An example from our world might be, “Increasing Sales Lead Flow for ABC Company.”
  • Don’t lead with an abundance of seller information at the start of the proposal. Kantin reiterates that the seller's empathy for the buyer should play a big role at the get-go. The first part of the proposal should feature background information on the prospect and identify a possible fit with the vendor. Match up your value proposition with the customer's requirements.
  • In the next section of the proposal, you should touch on the benefits of your product, both financial and non-financial.
  • Build in a call-to-action. At the end of the day, you are sending a proposal because you want somebody to do something at the end of it. Don’t leave it to the prospect to guess what they should do next.
  • Only after you've identified the prospect’s challenges, proposed a solution, and presented some rationalization for the financial investment, you’ve earned the right to explain your company's credentials if you choose.
  • If you want to include it, the final section can cover the deadpan business considerations – like thorough pricing information, delivery or invoicing schedules, and any other business or legal prerequisites specific to the customer.

Strategic B2B sales proposals follow the 80/20 rule, according to Kantin; 80% of the verbiage in a proposal is going to be standard, and 20% is going to be customized. "It's so easy if you can put yourself on the other side of the desk, in the buyer's shoes, and ask yourself questions about what you would need to know to make this buying decision," says Kantin.

All in all, Kantin’s book is highly recommended reading from this blogger. Check it out on Amazon when you get a chance.

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5 Critical Questions to Ask a Prospective Technology Services Partner

 

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Guest post by Blake Patterson of Damovo

As 2015 gets into full swing, many of you may be engaging with technology services partners as part of a yearly technology review process, or as you look for new technology solutions to bolster your company's performance.

As a provider of a number of technology solutions, our team at Damovo is well-versed in the proper execution of technology projects spanning a number of solution areas, like:

Whether you choose to utilize internal or external partners, there are numerous key considerations when selecting who to work with. As you can imagine, we field a lot of important questions in the course of our engagements with our clients, but there are a select few that should always make their way into the conversation.

Have they done this before?

This is the most obvious first question. You never want your company to be the guinea pig for a new product or service. Ask for case studies or use cases the vendor may have relating to your challenges. At Damovo, we enjoy the opportunity to share our experience with our prospects, and any vendor worth their salt won't hide from their experience helping other companies like yours.

Do they understand your business enough to complete the project?

Collaboration is the only way to be productive when engaging with a technology services partner. Be wary of a sales process that is all about the partner and their services. A good partner will build a Discovery Phase into their process to help outline the best fit. For instance, when our clients engage Damovo on a Unified Communications or Telephony project, we simply can't feel comfortable making recommendations until we fully understand both their existing ICT landscape and their longer term business aims. Only then, will we identify a technology strategy that will fit with their existing infrastructure.

Do they have a comprehensive understanding of the technology involved?

No one wants to feel like they are engaging with an amateur. Does your tech services partner have the answers to your most technical questions? Can they tackle the more complex integrations without hesitance? Damovo has some of the highest certifications from leading industry technology companies like Cisco, Microsoft, and Mitel, just to name a few…

Can they provide the right people at the right time and in the right place?

We take a team approach to our engagements with our clients, and you need to be sure that your technology services partner does the same. A great solution can be ineffective without the right people to implement, integrate, and see the project through.

Will they create a solution that is fit-for-purpose?

As a leading systems integrator with an extensive global ecosystem of industry partners the Damovo team is especially keen to understand how technology solutions work together. A single solution does not exist in a vacuum; it works in conjunction with other elements of a company's infrastructure. Find a partner that takes a holistic, comprehensive approach to the process.

The mark of a good technology services partner is their willingness to spend time ensuring they are aligned with your business and understand your drivers, desired business outcomes, and strategies.

Keeping these factors in mind will aid in determining the regional experts and technical expertise you require to plan and then deliver a successful project.

At the end of the day, your technology partner should eliminate global complexities and make your life easier.

Discover more about what makes for a successful project in our whitepaper: 10 Steps to Success in Global Communications Projects

blake patterson damovoBlake Patterson is Vice President, Sales and Business Development, North America for Damovo Global Services. In his current role, a key focus is establishing relationships with North American based enterprises which seek global IT service delivery expertise.  Blake is a 20 year veteran of the IT services industry. A graduate of the Richard T. Farmer School of Business at Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, Blake has held a variety of client executive and business development roles for some of the world’s leading IT services and telecommunications firms. He has specialized in developing and managing complex IT solutions for some of the world’s largest enterprises, including Procter and Gamble, HP, NCR, and others. Connect with Blake on LinkedIn. Connect with Damovo on LinkedIn.

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B2C vs. B2B Marketing – What are Their Priorities and Preferred Channels?

 

Webmarketing123 released a report which tallies a survey of over 600 U.S. digital marketers, from both the B2C and B2B marketing worlds. Download it here. I’ve always found the comparisons between the B2B and B2C segments fascinating. My hypothesis has been that B2C marketing pros have traditionally focused on branding while the B2B marketer measures themselves on the contribution of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to the top of the funnel. So it was interesting to see a side-by-side comparison of the tactics used by both groups.

Much of this information is not surprising by any stretch but definitely worth seeing. As we all suspect, lead generation is cited by B2B marketing pros as their primary marketing objective, while driving sales this year seems to be the main focus of their B2C counterparts.

Interestingly enough, the results may indicate that while B2B buying behaviors could begin to resemble consumer practices, there are still different priorities and different tactics favored by each group.

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Take a look at the study when you get a moment. As for a few highlights from the report, check out some of the more remarkable little factoids:

  • The top challenge for B2B marketers in 2015 is proving ROI, followed closely by generating and converting leads.
  • In comparison, converting leads is cited as the top challenge by B2C marketers.
  • B2C marketers’ top channels are social media (87%) and email (80%), while email (93%) gets the edge over social (87%) for B2B respondents.
  • Of 5 channels identified, email drives more revenue than SEO or paid search for B2B marketers, while paid search is the primary revenue driver for B2C marketers;
  • Surprise, surprise. B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn while B2C marketers prefer Facebook.
  • Mobile-friendly websites are more likely in the B2C world than in the B2B world (75% vs. 64%).
  • By a significant margin, B2B marketers are more likely than B2C marketers to have a blog (60% vs. 49%).
  • Both sides do agree on one thing: Video is the digital marketing tactic that is both most-used and considered most-effective by each group.
  • B2B marketers utilize marketing automation at a greater rate than B2C respondents (65% vs. 55%).

Are You Reading from a Call Script? Recite These Words: “Cut it out.”

 

I received a call last week from a very determined sales person. I've seen her number on my phone's digital display a couple of times each day these past three weeks. Apparently, I'm scheduled to get a call from her each day at 8:07 AM, and again at 2:45 PM. So, yesterday I answered the 8:07 AM call.

Me: Hello, this is Ric.

Salesperson: Hello, Rice, this is Carla from AcmeTech here in Los Angeles.

Wait, what...? Rice? Evidently, AcmeTech purchased a list that included my middle name’s first initial (E) and combined it with my first name. Thus ‘Ric’ became ‘Rice’. No problem, except for the fact that I told her my name when I answered the phone. I guess she wasn’t listening.

Me: Hi, Carla. I noticed that you said, ‘…here in Los Angeles.’ I’m not in Los Angeles. Do you know where I’m located?

Salesperson: Rice, we helped LocalSoft, Inc. improve their customer satisfaction rate so much that they are increasing their roster of new clients at a rate of 14% per month for the…

Me: Excuse me, Carla.

Salesperson: … last two quarters and it appears that there is no end in sight to their success. The reason that I'm calling you is so that I can tell you about our customer relationship management strategy and…

Me: Carla?

Salesperson: … how it can increase your acquisition of new clients just like it did for LocalSoft, Inc. I'm sure that you, like LocalSoft, are interested in…

Me: Hey, Carla?

Salesperson: … having more new clients to manage, right?

I can practically see it right there on the screen in front of Carla: “(wait for positive response from prospect _____), and then continue with script.”

Salesperson: That's great, Rice, I think you should get on a call together with my sales director. How about this Thursday at 2pm? What’s the best number for him to reach you?

This is a transcript of an actual (painful) call. And yes, there are too many blunders to assess in a single blog. So, I’ll pick one – reading from a script. If you are like Carla, and still READING a script to someone over the phone, stop it now!

cold call script noThere’s a reason that airline pilots follow a script each and every time prior to take off and landing. As a commercial airline passenger, I’m comforted knowing that my cockpit crew is doing just that. But as a telephone prospect, I detest it.

If you are a veteran sales pro, conduct a personal audit. From time to time, take an account of what you’re saying and codify the language of your most effective conversations. Write down your best phrases and questions and refer to them now and again, adjusting as needed.

If you’re new to sales, don’t wing it. Write down what you want to say, paying close attention to the language you use to accomplish the desired outcome of your conversation. Rehearse it until you can deliver it with confidence and clarity. Then prepare to engage in a compelling dialogue.

Sales scripts are a good and useful tool. But if you are reading them to your prospect, cut it out!

If Your Mother Were Interested in Your Product, Would You Tell Her to Buy What You’re Selling?

 

believe in what youre sellingThe cold, hard truth is that, if you don’t truly believe in what you’re selling, the thought that you may be conning people will start to emerge, whether you care to admit it or not. It’s a precarious place to be. I’ve been there. One of my first jobs was at a call center ‘sweat shop’ selling useless ad space on local high school football schedules. We were instructed to act as if we were soliciting on behalf of the football teams to raise money – but it wasn’t true. I felt like a scammer in the first ten minutes on the phone. It didn’t feel comfortable. I didn’t believe in the product. I quit that first day on the phones. I felt like I could have fooled lots of people into buying ad space, but at the end of the day, I couldn’t fool myself. My true feelings rose to the surface and boiled into my consciousness.

Never approach B2B sales with the any of the following creeds:

  • A good salesperson doesn’t have to believe in their products; they just have to believe in themselves.
  • If you’re an honest person and you want a career in sales, you’ll fail.

To determine whether or not you truly believe in your product or service, simply ask yourself a hard question like:

  • If your mother were interested in your product, would you tell her to buy what you’re selling?
  • If I had the challenges that my prospects have, would I buy my product?

When a seller doesn’t believe in what they’re selling, eventually prospects may sense your true feelings and decline to purchase from you – unless you’re ruthless or really good at hiding it. To be successful in B2B sales, you have to truly believe in these things, without exception:

Your Company

You have to believe that your company offers your clients something valuable. You have to stand up and proclaim that you believe in the values of the company. You have to trust that they stand behind their products and services. Ultimately, it is imperative to believe that your firm is run ethically and always respects the clients it serves in its choices.

Your Product or Service

This is the one I’m mainly waxing about here. You have to believe that every promise you make about your product in the B2B sales process can be backed up. In due course, you have to trust that your solution is the best solution for their challenge.

Yourself

Believe in yourself and the value you personally can provide your client base. It’s easy if you do what you say you will do. If you believe that you have unique knowledge that benefits your customers, they will see you as a peer and as a consultative voice guiding them down the right path.

If you don’t believe in what you sell, find something you believe in and sell that.

If you don’t believe in your company, find an organization you believe in and sell for them.

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Why B2B Sales Pros are Less-Needed at the Start of the Buying Cycle – 94% of B2B Buyers Research Online

 

B2B buyers are doing a ton of research without talking to a salesperson at all. According to the State of B2B Procurement study from the Acquity Group, about 94% of B2B buyers report conducting some degree of research online before making a business purchase. This includes 55% who do so for at least half of their purchases.

What’s the takeaway? Before B2B buyers even engage a salesperson, they have probably done some research to decide if it's even necessary to engage. That’s why it’s so imperative that all of your materials and content (website, Social Media presence, etc.) are regularly audited and up-to-date.

Back in the old days of B2B sales where there wasn’t a plethora of information on every single subject and every company, buyers would get their information from a salesperson. In these times of digital marketing, most B2B buyers can find enough information to supplant the role of the sales professional. (We cover this topic in detail on our latest webinar - The Ultimate B2B Sales Funnel – How to Build the Machine)

That fact puts content marketers (and marketers, in general) in the driver’s seat. It can be an advantage if your online presence is engaging and informational. In a perfect world, your salespeople would be over their shoulder to answer any questions they might have, but it’s simply not the way it works anymore. By the time B2B buyers engage you, they probably have some preconceived notions and tendencies based on the research they did before engaging.

So where are B2B buyers going for their information? See the chart below from Marketing Charts:

b2b buyers researching without you

Some other key takeaways from the Acquity Group study:

  • Remarkably, the propensity to research online is becoming so pervasive that it applies across most price points. For instance, 40% conduct online research for a majority of goods priced under $10,000, and 31% do so at that frequency for goods costing at least $100,000.
  • And as we mentioned, online research often precludes the need for sales person involvement in the earlier stages of the buying cycle. Respondents were almost as likely to state that a sales person is unnecessary (10.4%) as they were to state that they’d like to speak with someone directly (12.4%).
  • Supplier websites are the most common channel used to research purchases (83.4%). However, just 37% of B2B buyers who use supplier websites to do research say that this is their most useful channel.
  • A strong majority also use Google search (77%). (Know what a Google search on your company produces.)
  • Other research channels incorporate user reviews of products (41.8%) and 3rd party websites (34%), with fewer using blogs (10.8%) and social media (8.6%).

Listen, guys. If these stats aren’t enough to implement a content audit schedule, I don’t know what is. Why not undergo an exercise where you put yourself in the seat of a buyer looking at your company? Research yourself as if you were a prospect and know what your buyers are looking at.

SalesStaff CEO, David Balzen, says, "Nearly every buyer has done some research and formed opinions on your company and your solution. Knowing this about our buyers tells salespeople they need to assess their prospect’s level of understanding of the solution at the beginning of the B2B sales process. Ask questions about what the prospect may have already researched about your solution, and take note of what opinions and overall perception was made already and proceed strategically through this information as the sales presentation unfolds. Once you’ve uncovered what they know, capitalize from it by gearing your presentation to address their questions, concerns or potential misconceptions that may have been formed during their research, then proceed with your full presentation while being careful to not waste their time with details and information they’ve already learned from their own research."

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