It’s no secret that digital technology has disrupted virtually every aspect of doing business. B2B salespeople must recognize this new reality and evolve quickly if they intend to remain valuable to their respective companies. To quote Jack Welch, “Change before you have to.”
While the function of B2B sellers is still an integral part of doing business, the actual process is changing. Understanding and adapting to those changes is the key to continued and greater success.
Here are some of the keys to staying ahead of the curve:
1. Information and data is ubiquitous.
No matter what claim you make about your service/product, it can be vetted in a matter of seconds. B2B buyers have access to the same information and data now as their selling counterparts. Making statements or claims that are even remotely dubious puts a salesperson’s credibility in serious jeopardy. The smarter path is to make sure that everything you present to a buyer is thoroughly documented and relevant to his/her business objective.
2. Your personal brand matters more than ever before.
Having credibility is only one component of that brand. Your personal brand is even more important than your company’s brand—and it’s something that you need to control. Being reliable, responsible and resourceful (the three Rs) should be the foundation of your brand. Given the level of uncertainty that affects almost every business, having a strong personal brand will help you with buyers and your employer as well.
3. Speed can be your worst enemy or your best friend.
Digital technology is accelerating the pace of business. Decisions that used to take weeks or months to make are now being made in a matter of days or even sooner. Successful salespeople pay close attention as to how rapidly a deal can be made. Since relatively easy access to objective information has leveled the playing field between buyer and seller, the seller must figure out “what else” is or is not driving a deal to its conclusion.
4. B2B buyers’ expectations of sellers have never been higher.
This runs counter to the assumption that sellers are becoming obsolete. It’s more about survival of the fittest. The demands placed upon B2B sellers by their buyers require those sellers to become more than just promoters of their respective products/services. Being perceived as an “industry expert” and/or “trusted consultant” is the objective here. While having a social relationship with a buyer is still important, the quantity and quality of insights and ideas a salesperson brings to the table matters more.
5. Value propositions must go beyond the obvious.
Simply reciting “features and benefits” is no longer adequate. In an age of instant information, a salesperson cannot afford to be perceived as anything more than a messenger. Effective value propositions must recognize potential threats or disruptions in a client’s business and offer viable and compelling solutions to them. Given the fact that almost every business is coping with disruption, this is where truly proactive and creative salespeople can stand out!
“We’ve always done it this way” is no longer acceptable. That doesn’t mean discarding everything—it means keeping only the best practices and improving on the rest of them. B2B sellers must take a personal inventory of their own skill sets and refine them to address the points made above. Digital technology has definitely raised the stakes to be a successful B2B salesperson. How will you respond to this new reality?
About the Author
Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com
About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.