B2B Selling: The New Rules of Engagement
While buying decisions aren’t necessarily made at “the speed of light”, the people who make them now have instant access to tons of information about whatever is being sold to them. In addition, most corporate buyers have their own proprietary metrics for evaluating and comparing competing opportunities and offers.
Some would argue that the “balance of power” has shifted more in favor of the buyer than the seller.
That’s certainly debatable, but in any case, B2B sellers need to reinvent themselves to be successful in this new environment.
There are 4 keys to making that happen.
1. Become a master of all modes of communication.
Whether it’s face-to-face, phone, social, text, email, or snail mail, B2B sellers need to be skillful with all of them. Different buyers prefer different ways of connecting and it’s the seller’s job to adjust accordingly.
Relying on a just a couple of ways of communicating may have worked in the past, but it just won’t as we move forward. While it may be painful at first, focus on your weakest skill and do whatever it takes to get better at it.
Once you’re solid across all of the modes, you’ll find it much easier to shift gears for the situation at hand. Don’t handicap yourself by ignoring or postponing this step.
2. Be ready, willing and able to verify everything you say.
Given the instant access to a wide range of information and data, you can assume that whatever claims you make will be fact checked by the buyer. If there’s the slightest discrepancy, you’re already in trouble.
“Instant verification” has put personal credibility up for scrutiny. Getting caught making an unsubstantiated claim can damage your relationship with a given buyer very quickly. Think of impeccable credibility as a competitive advantage.
3. Give your value propositions consistent “layering”.
It’s no longer good enough (and maybe it never was) to merely state your proposition and leave it at that. Every subsequent communication with your buyer needs to reinforce and even enhance what you said initially.
This process of layering even deserves some scripting in advance. Every great story has a beginning, a middle, and an end—so should your value propositions. Laying the whole thing out at one time isn’t nearly as compelling (or dramatic) as telling it in stages.
4. Learn how to work the buying decision-making chain.
While you may be primarily interfacing with one buyer on behalf of a given company, you should assume that are some other players who will have a hand in the final buying decision. Map out who they are and figure out how to connect with them—without compromising or jeopardizing your relationship with the primary buyer of course.
It may mean using different forms of communication or using your boss as a conduit to connecting with your buyer’s boss. Building a vertical consensus inside of a given company for your value proposition increases your chances of making a successful sale dramatically.
The adjustments you make in your game will make the difference between merely surviving instead of thriving in this new B2B business environment. The choice is in your hands.
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.