By Kenneth Wagner
Head of Sales and Marketing Efficiency, Mynewsdesk

I attended the Inside Sales Virtual Summit 2013, hosted by InsideSales.com, which featured 62 speakers – the top minds within the sales and inside sales profession. I had the privilege to listen to 35 of the sessions – and will provide a blog series that groups all the learnings into themes – this post is on the B2B buyer.

The Modern B2B Buyer

One permeating topic of many of the presentations, was that the buying landscape has fundamentally changed. The buyers are following the movement of the market, which in the past suffered from information scarcity – but know “suffers” from information abundance. Below I’ll recap the points made of some of the speakers:

Giles House, CMO at Callidus Cloud, presented quick facts:

  • 70% of the buying decision is made in advance
  • 24% of the time is spent searching for information
  • 21% are actively using social media

Jill Rowley, Social Selling Evangelist at Oracle, went in depth:

  • Buyers are self-educating via Search and Social
  • 57% of the buying process is done prior to engaging with Sales
  • 92% of buyers start by searching on the web
  • 37% of buyers posted questions on Social Networking sites looking for references and/or feedback

Brian Frank, Sales Effectiveness at LinkedIn, supplied their insights:

  • 75% of B2B Buyers are influenced by Social
  • 57% of buying decisions are made before sales rep involvement
  • 97% of the time cold calls do not work (you must make them warm calls)

Jon Miller, CMO at Marketo, supported with 3 quick statements:

  • The buyer is educated
  • They want quick and easy (they’re overwhelmed by complexity)
  • They don’t necessarily need face-2-face interaction

Jill Konrath, Author of SNAP Selling, summarised it nicely with:

  • The buyer is feeling overwhelmed by complexity
  • There’s competing agendas within the company
  • The deadlines are shorter than ever
  • The decisions themselves are ever more complex
  • The buyer is often obsessed with real time. (i.e. don’t consider long-term now)

To be more descriptive, Jill Rowley gave this overview of what really describes the modern B2B buyer:

  • They’re well informed and digitally driven
  • They’re socially connected and connected with peer-based social networks
  • They’re mobile and empowered
  • They expect exceptional knowledge and first-class service

What this means for sales is a fundamental difference in how we must engage with our potential buyers – the key thing is often to provide value.

Gabriel Padva, Founder at 30,000 FT strategies, gave these pointers:

Good ways to provide value: educate on Your Industry Issues, reflect on the questions below – put yourself in your ideal client’s shoes.
  • What frustrates you most about this industry?
  • If a best friend were to buy a service or product like yours, what would you warn them to look out for?
  • How could the industry be improved?
  • How are you or could you solve these?

Once these questions where answered, he recommended you go to:

  • Features: How do you solve this?
  • Benefits: What does this mean for the prospect?
  • Examples: What stories, analogies and visuals can you use to get your point across?

Jill Konrath provided her overall SNAP Selling framework:

  • The SNAP Test (from prospects view)
    • Is this Simple or is it Complex?
    • Is this iNvaluable or is it Ordinary?
    • Is this Aligned or irrelevant to objectives?
    • Is this a Priority or is it Nice-to-have?

To summarise

There’s no doubt that engaging with the modern B2B buyer has changed. What remains key is that sales must plan for how we can best engage with them and provide relevance for them. In addition, as research suggests that the majority of the buying decision is made prior for them to engage with us, we need to ensure that we are part of their immediate vicinity.

 

Wagner, K. (2013, June 24). The Modern B2B Buyer – a Recap from Inside Sales Virtual Summit 2013. Kenneth Wagner Blog. Retrieved from http://kennethwagner.dk/index.php/the-modern-b2b-buyer/