Selling to other businesses has many unique elements – some of which may include a more sophisticated buyer, a more complex situation, multiple buyers, clearer expectations of performance, and your reputation being on the line. Connecting with these buyers by way of giving them what they want is a sure fire way to get their business.
Based on personal experience, our own proprietary research, and exposure from books and sales training programs, following are the top 10 things buyers want from B2B sales consultants:
- Be prepared – buyers will take notice about how much prep work you’ve done to learn about their industry and their companies. While good prep may not ultimately win you the business, it sure can set you apart from the competition. Early in my sales career before we built compelling competitive advantages, I’d go out of my way to dazzle the buyer with my prep about them and their business. No doubt that prep won us many projects.
- Buyer wants to do the talking – about their company, their problems, their challenges. Our proprietary research supports this 100%. When we asked B2B buyers what they valued most from salespeople, they said the ability to ask good questions and listen. Salespeople should be listening intently and actively, talking less than 30% of the time.
- Be a consultant from the beginning – I am a great fan of the Challenger Sale concepts. The Challenger Sale research is among the most extensive relative to selling B2B. Buyers today expect you to consult with them from the very beginning. Unless you can share some wisdom about how to solve their problems, it is doubtful you’ll get the deal. Givers gain.
- Educate the buyer – the buyer is going to expect you to bring something new to the party – new information, new wisdom, a unique perspective, etc. Also, buyers will expect you to share ways others like them have solved similar challenges.
- Be sympathetic to the buyers’ challenges – buyers have problems too and all too often they need to vent. Listening carefully and be empathetic/sympathetic to their challenges. This will accelerate your emotional connection with the buyer.
- Ask really good questions – As mentioned in #2 above, buyers value above all else a salesperson’s ability to ask profound questions and listen carefully. When a buyer once commented to me that “none of your competitors asked these kinds of questions”, I learned quickly that the depth and relevance of my questions could distinguish me.
- Explore why they are doing what they are doing – buyers want to you understand them and their businesses. A lack of understanding is one of the biggest reasons buyers buy from someone else. There’s no better way to understand the current situation and determine how you can add value other than exploring deeply what they are doing currently and why they chose their current methods. In our research, we found that 86% of buyers would have a favorable view of the salesperson if the salesperson challenged the buyer’s assumptions about his business. Of course, you better be able to back up your position on the matter.
- Provides options and explains advantages/disadvantages – our proprietary research supports this as well. When we asked buyers if they’d prefer being presented with options vs. recommendation of a single solution, 84% said they wanted to see options. Remember, buyers don’t’ want to be sold to – they want to buy. Giving options lets the buyer decide what he wants to buy. Do this well and you may also increase your average order size.
- No closing techniques – we’d all like to close as quickly as possible, but in the B2B selling space we should be satisfied with simply moving successfully to the next step. In our research we asked about closing techniques. Buyers responded that hard and manipulative closing techniques turn them off. Ask them “how do you want to move forward from here” or “what would you like the next step to be” are closing methods that will keep things moving in the right direction and likely win you business.
- Don’t interrupt the buyer but he can interrupt you – when we asked buyers to identify what turns them off about salespeople, one of the top answers was “interrupts me when I’m talking”. I know I am being redundant here, but go back to points #2 and #6. No more needs to be said about asking good questions and listening well.
In summary, buyers want to be heard. They want to be understood. They’ve got problems just like you and me, and sometimes they need to vent. Be prepared. Give and educate as ways to get – givers gain. Explore by asking really good questions and provide options for solving the situation. Don’t try to close before the time is right. Be satisfied by simply moving to the next phase in the buying process. Do these things and you will be rewarded with greater success.