Buying Processes are Changing – Are you?

When was the last time you called a restaurant to find out what’s on the menu and to make a reservation? It’s likely you’ll have to search your memory to remember. As a consumer, I know I go to the internet first, learn all I need to know about the place and finally complete my reservation on-line without every having to talk to the restaurant itself.

This same conduct is now becoming the norm for B2B buyers in making their decisions and even their purchases. Granted, there are many more decision processes and constituents internally for a business to decide to acquire a product or service than we have as consumers. Yet, the similarity as it relates to selling processes is the same.

Instead of talking to a salesperson or accepting a call from a sales person, a B2B buyer today doesn’t need or even want a salesperson to be included in their buying decision process. Why talk to the restaurant (salesperson) when I can go to Yelp and hear what others who have eaten there have to say?  It would be even better if a friend has eaten there and recommended it

Yet, for selling B2B products and service many companies still have sales processes that ignore or have not fully comprehended this change and the paradigm shift that has occurred with B2B buying processes. How do you sell, when the buyer (even serious ones) won’t engage directly with you? How do you influence a decision to buy from you in this situation?

The answer…adapt your sales activities to have the customer find you and engage with you – on their time line, in alignment with their buying process. Are you ready to sell this way?

In the tech. world, we often have some degree of complexity to the customer engagement process. Not only does the customer need to learn more about your product and service, but he needs to know how to use it and get it to work for him. The rate of change with new technology options and the shortening time line for buying companies to get your product or service functioning to meet their requirements, means that technology companies selling to the B2B buying entity have an extreme challenge.

Selling now means….adapting to the lack of access to the customer, being ready to sell when they are ready to buy, and ensuring that the type of selling being done is consultative with crisp responses and directly applicable actions.

Share your comments on how buyer behaviors have changed your selling practices. What further changes do you see occurring?

You may view a recorded webinar that I conducted on this topic called “The Informed Buyer” – The Challenge for Today’s Sales Leaders” by clicking on this link: The Informed Buyer: The Challenge for Todays Sales Leaders

About Marty Levy

Marty is a veteran Silicon Valley sales executive. With more than 20 years of experience in sales and sales leadership roles in the semiconductor, PC, software, and enterprise cloud application arenas, Marty is recognized for his thought leadership in sales strategy development and sales performance management in the technology industry. His expertise is with hybrid sales teams and channel development. As a Vice President of Sales he has led teams through an IPO, implemented a successful divisional turn-around, and established global major account relationships. He has managed global sales teams in two public companies and created and managed go-to-market strategies leading to adoption of a variety of leading edge technologies. Marty has deep knowledge of the OEM and enterprise B2B sales process for vertical markets and applications. Marty's passion for the sales profession is demonstrated in his work as Chairman of the Sales Leadership Council within ExecWorld, where he also serves as a Board member.
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One Response to Buying Processes are Changing – Are you?

  1. Bob Bacon says:

    Very nice article Marty!

    I have concluded from yours and other writings as well as conversations with numerous sales managers that in nearly all sales environments some of the traditional sales stages are no longer the prevue of the sales organization. Prospects now self qualify, perform their own discovery and, with the more straight forward products, they even define their own solution, significantly reducing traditional sales pipeline management stages. The point you made about the importance of influencing the prospect’s decision during this self-guided journey is new territory for most established B2B sales organizations.

    Organizations which move in this direction can evolve their structure with fewer field resources and more inside sales or hybrid (90% inside, 10% field) sales resources as predicted by author James Ledbetter of Slate magazine. Obviously this is a more cost effective sales model, recently discussed here in David Skok’s article on sales complexity from a VC’s perspective. This model has generally been adopted by those software companies with less complex products, a straight forward value proposition and a transactional sales process. It’s similar to a B2C model except that you need to provide prospects with answers to their few remaining questions and, of course, a discussion about volume pricing.

    Of the issues sales leaders have to address in consideration of this move I believe the more strategic questions are: Are you willing/able to compete in a transparent sales environment? Are you willing to remove the vague hyperbole from your company’s web site and replace it with detailed product information, accurate sales messaging and pricing? How do you balance these revelations to your prospects at the risk of enabling your competitors? Are you confident in a positive outcome in yielding control of 70% of the pipeline?

    The trend is definitely moving in this direction.

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