19 Jan What's Changed In B2B Media And Event Sales?
After the recession, B2B buyers changed the way they buy significantly. This means that event, publishing and media companies have had to adapt and find new ways of engaging with prospective customers.
What’s Changed For Your Customers?
Suppliers have adopted ‘solutions selling’ to provide their customers with a tailored solution in an attempt to create differentiation in the market place and to command a price premium.
“In a recent survey by CEB, 75% of respondent businesses had aspirations to move from product to solution selling”
The problem with ‘Solution Selling’
- Customers expect you to solve real problems
- This requires your sales reps to ask a lot of questions
- Establishing a real understanding between supplier and customer can go back and forth for a long time
- The customer invests a lot of time without knowing if a solution will be reached
Buyers Have Changed The Way They Buy
B2B buyers have started to protect themselves from the solution seller by spreading the risk amongst their team. There are now an average of 6.8 decision-makers in the buying process.
Buyers are have become risk averse due to an increase in choice and the continual bombardment from solution sellers. However, these solutions do not provide enough insight or differentiation for buyers to make an informed decision.
With more pressure to achieve ROI, more stakeholders to convince, and a proliferation of choice between undifferentiated products, what do your customers do? – Nothing. Customers are more likely to stick with known 'status-quo' than run the risk of changing.
A New Way Of Selling
Your biggest competitor is your customer’s status quo, which means the first step in the sales process should be to help them release their grip and open their minds to new ideas.
If your customers status quo presents the biggest obstacle, then the first step is to teach them ‘why’ they need to change.This can be done by teaching them about industry trends, sharing success (and failure) stories and highlighting potential opportunities they may have overlooked.
Creating A Hypothesis
Rather than wasting time asking open-ended questions (as with the solution selling approach), the effective sales approach uses the their unique understanding of the industry to make educated assumptions.
“We’ve noticed many of our clients similar to you have experienced these three challenges, is this what you are seeing?” This says two things –
“We understand your business” and “We’re not here to waste your time”
Using insights to teach your clients more around their goals and challenges offers them a new and unique perspective and draws them closer to releasing their grip on their status quo.
At this point you want your customer to say “I never thought of that before!” Being in agreement with your customer feels great, but it doesn’t lead them to your unique value and responds to your customer’s needs rather than defines them.
Why Should Your Customers Care?
The truth is your customers don’t care about your solution. After gaining your customer’s attention by highlighting a problem with their current approach and giving them reason to break away from their status quo, hit them with the facts, figures and data to substantiate your claim and further establish your authority.
Having the ability to teach your customers about their audience behaviour and how they buy is the most powerful insight you can provide.
Does Emotion Work In B2B sales?
Your sales team can be equipped with all the right facts and figures needed to present a strong business case, but if the customer can’t see themselves in your story, then they can’t connect emotionally and this could be the end of your journey.
If your assumptive challenges and supporting data is close to the mark, sharing examples that place your customer at the heart of the story will build the empathy needed for them to emotionally engage and connect. By personalising the sales pitch aloing with sales collateral, buyers are twice as more likely to purchase – this is the power of using emotion in pitching.
Behaving Differently, Not Buying Differently
The temptation is to sell your solution, but at this stage you have presented the challenges, the facts and figures and placed your customer at the heart of the story. Now you must convince your customer to believe in the solution – it about getting them to see a need to behave differently, not buy differently.
This is the easy part and you can unveil your unique value and show your customer how you are different from the competition.
By teaching your client about how they can overcome their challenges and highlighting opportunities they were unaware of, you have created unique value in itself. The real value is in commercial teaching – a recent survey of B2B buyers by CEB revealed that 56% of B2B buyers value sales experience above all else.