With the rise of technology, the internet, and social media, it’s no surprise today’s B2B buyers are better informed than ever. In fact, research suggests that, these days, buyers complete as much as 60 percent of the sales process before consulting an actual sales professional. While this may make the job seem daunting, it isn’t that selling today is necessarily more difficult; it’s just that selling is different than it used to be. Here are a few ways consultative sellers can succeed with today’s more informed buyers:
- Understand the Buying Process
How an organization buys can be as unique as their company brand, and to win, salespeople must have clear visibility into the buying process. It’s important to know what happens, with who, and when. This knowledge will help salespeople take the right actions in support of winning the sale.
- Business Acumen
As much as sales professionals must be familiar with their client’s needs, today’s salespeople must possess the business acumen to see the forces that influence both their client’s day-to-day operations and their long-term interests. While salespeople once got by being experts in their own products and services, today’s clients are too informed in their own right. To be successful, sales professionals must be able to fully understand the “application” of their solutions in a specific environment.
- Be a Problem Solver
All salespeople sell, but it takes a special kind of professional to be a true problem solver. This is the sales pro who not only knows his or her product inside out but is able to illustrate for the client how it provides a solution to a problem. These days, with buyers more informed than ever, they often know what products are touted to do. Salespeople who merely recite a list of features will never be as successful as those who can tie a solution to a specific challenge and articulate how their product or service is the ideal tool for this client.
- Challenge the Status Quo
Often, even the most informed buyers who know what they need may hesitate to commit. Without being pushy, an effective seller must be honest and level with the customer about the consequences of inaction, be it reduced productivity, revenue, or standing. No matter how informed a buyer, they will respect the salesperson who acts as a trusted advisor and is not afraid to challenge the client when it is in the client’s best interest.
While there is no substitute for strong research and planning skills, research alone is not enough. It is now more important that sales professionals not only connect with the right people but connect with more of them. Research shows more and more people are involved in B2B decisions. This requires your circle of influence to reach beyond your primary contact.
- Anticipate Objections
With good reason, informed buyers can often be the most stubborn. They have already taken the time to research and evaluate various providers and their wares, and once they narrow the field, it is common to raise legitimate, last-minute concerns before making a final decision. Serious sales pros should prepare in advance by considering the possible objections and have responses ready to alleviate concerns. More than an impediment, this is an opportunity to reinforce how the solution solves an immediate problem and offers the client lasting value.
While informed clients may seem like a challenge, sales professionals and their clients should never be in adversarial relationships. Remember, you are not going up against a superior opponent or matching wits with a nemesis. Instead, you are working in combination with a trusted partner to address real-world issues that improve a client’s situation. Their knowledge and experience should complement yours to help you both see the challenges and opportunities ahead as well as the short- and long-term solutions to make both buyer and seller successful.