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What Buyers Want from B2B Salespeople

3 minute read

Neal Lappe   by Neal Lappe September 10, 2013

What do buyers value most about salespeople? What annoys them the most about salespeople? If you knew the answers to these questions, you’d probably become a better salesperson. Well, some of those answers are in this article.

As part of writing my second book about B2B (business-to-business) selling, I conducted a survey of more than 100 people who make buying decisions for their businesses. I was curious about what behaviors and skills are valued the most and the least. I was curious about the best way to accomplish sales goals. I was curious about what turns off a buyer the most. So I asked and here’s what I found…..

What are the most valued traits in a salesperson?

  1. Actively listens to me – 80%
  2. Asks good questions – 69%
  3. Is a good problem solver – 49%

A salesperson learns nothing about the buyer’s goals, challenges and problems by talking, going through sales literature and making power-point presentations. The salesperson needs to get a good start by building rapport, and then begin asking some good open ended questions and shut up and listen. That’s what buyers want!

What is the best way to build rapport and trust with a buyer?

  1. Demonstrate competence by asking good, penetrating questions – 87%
  2. Open with small talk about current events – 23%
  3. Open with small talk about things personal to me – 21%

See a pattern starting here? The best way to build rapport and trust is to ask good questions and listen. Now, sometimes the buyer is a little resistant because they may feel guarded or just not comfortable sharing everything with you. So, a little small talk at the beginning of a sales call is important. Once there appears to be open communications, that’s when you start asking questions and listening. Buyers have objectives and problems just like salespeople do, and the only way to help them achieve those objectives is for the buyer to explain them. So once again, ask good questions and then listen.

How much time should I take to tell the buyer about my company?

  1. 5 minutes are less – 47%
  2. 5-15 minutes – 37%
  3. 15-30 minutes – 14%

Nearly half the buyers surveyed suggested you take no more than 5 minutes to tell him/her about your company. What does that tell you? It tells me it’s not about me and my company – it’s about the buyer and what he’s trying to achieve. So, don’t waste your time on lengthy presentations about who you are. Share some critical details and competitive advantages to set the stage, and then begin learning about your prospect.

What skills are most effective at separating a salesperson from his/her peers?

  1. Demonstrates ability to solve my problem – 64%
  2. Asks penetrating questions and listens well – 48%
  3. Understands my business – 42%

This is consistent with the most valued traits in a salesperson. The ability to ask good questions and the right questions to understand the problem and the business is so critical to becoming an elite salesperson.

What frustrates you the most about salespeople during face-to-face interactions?

  1. Talks too much and doesn’t focus on my problem – 58%
  2. Wastes my time with unnecessary details – 52%
  3. Long presentations about his/her company – 46%

Now it sounds like I’m “beating a dead horse”! Clearly buyers have a need to express themselves, and they want to explain their problems and challenges. They don’t want to waste their time listening to long presentations about your company. They want you to ask questions that no one else has asked them in order to understand their business and their issues better than anyone else.

The ability to ask the right questions in the right way and listen to the answers is the second most difficult selling skill to master – after effective closing skills. Avoid elongated presentations about your company and spending too much time going through your sales literature with a buyer. When talking about your company, focus on what you do and a couple competitive advantages. Then dive into learning about your prospect.

 


 

Neal Lappe leads the WebStrategies team of digital marketing experts. Under his direction, the company has flourished, growing more than 400% since its inception in 2004.

 

Topics: Sales, Selling Skills, Sales Training

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