Selling B2B is never simple – there are too many influences on the decision. But the sales guy who focuses on selling to the people rather than the business in B2B can maximise the opportunity of winning, and minimise the threat of being out played by the competition. Businesses may buy what we offer, but it’s people who decide what to buy, and who from.
Selling B2B is ultimately about people – empathy, influence, leadership, support- all these are people centric dimensions of the sale. There are four B2B selling strategies we can use, to make this work in our favour.
Find the Personal Agenda
What do the people want out of the investment. This can be really hard to uncover, but we need to do that if we’re going to control the sale.
A simple example of this dimension is the company buying new premises. The business agenda is easy if the existing lease about to run out. The business case is easy, for example lower property taxes. The personal agenda probably won’t get talked about – the Operations Manager wants the premises on the south side of town, because that will cut thirty minutes off his commute.
This personal agenda isn’t going to be talked about openly. Of course everybody wants the best possible premises, at the lowest possible cost. But is the Operations Manager, who is already going to reduce his budget, thinking of adding an hour to his travel time everyday just to save the business a little bit more? Probably not. If we can come up with some arguments for our south side units, the OPS Manager will coach us into winning the sale, even if the cost is higher than the competitions’ north side units.
Focus on Consultative Selling
Generally, people would much rather be “helped to buy” than “be sold to”.
When we get to understand both the business imperative and the personal agendas we can begin to explain how our offer is the most beneficial. However we may be in danger of missing some secondary considerations which have never been discussed. We can uncover these hidden influences by becoming consultants. We’re experts in our field after all. We work in our market/sector/product all of the time whereas our prospect is rarely involved in it. Every time we get told something we can ask if alternatives have been considered, point out the upside and downside of different solutions. We can add value to our sales proposition by helping the prospect to know more of what we know. When selling B2B our ability to help the people make the right business decision is a competitive advantage.
Be trusted not liked
Amateur sales people rely on their personal charisma. If the prospect likes them, maybe they’ll buy because they like them. But sales people from the top performing companies aren’t charismatic and easy going, they’re process oriented and disciplined. So why do people buy from them – because they’re professional, direct and honest. Customers may not like what they hear, but believe it. They know they’re not in control, but are going to get what they want. Of course, they also have to pay for it – that’s selling B2B of course.
Stand in the customers shoes
Sell to your prospect as you would like to be sold to. If we can put ourselves in the buyers shoes, we have a much better chance of understanding how to make him come in our direction. The competition isn’t doing that, we can stand out because we do.
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