Today’s buyer wants services from suppliers that are as low risk as possible with proven profitability. In most cases they’ve already worked out and documented in detail what they think they need beforehand. This doesn’t just mean that selling has become more expensive; it also means you have less influence over your client.
To start with, your marketing communication has to be appealing and flawless. Buyers want to inform themselves, so they need to be able to find background information about you quickly via all possible channels. They’ll probably look for your reference clients, comparative product information, confirmation of their decision-making criteria or a better understanding of the impact your solution will have.
B2B companies are meeting this demand with content marketing and producing more and more resources to help them answer each of these specific questions. These answers are then distributed through traditional channels and online, e.g. videos, webinars, blogs and social media.
Salesperson as guide
You also need a well-trained sales team. Kris Verheye from Belgacom, one of the speakers at our Corporate Performance event and boss to 200 account managers, said about these tasks: “A salesperson is a guide who together with the customer seeks to provide maximum value from the purchase, justification of the budget, and the most suitable project supervision. He also leads a virtual team that has to ensure the right resources are used at the right times internally.”
This salesperson profile is miles away from the archetypal salespeople and the promisers (“you’ll see, that’ll be fine, you don’t need to worry, because we are the biggest, we have the most experience”) still employed by many companies. The new salesperson profile also costs more. That’s fine, modern B2B salespeople know they have to be versatile and that comes at a price.
Selling more expensive
You can recuperate this greater marketing and sales cost by increasing your prices and your chances of success. Kris Verheye again: “We win more tenders than before by being more selective and by increasing the entire organization’s view of existing deals. We document potential deals better and share this information with more people so that we have more ideas for adding value and differentiation to our approach.”
Another important aspect is that everyone who collaborates on preparing the deals also speaks the same language. This is only possible if all departments use a shared method which is also supported in the reporting. “It allows us to harmonize each individual’s internal activities with the buyer readiness of the customer. This has an important effect on our internal operation so we work much more efficiently on the right things,” adds Kris Verheye.