18th Oct, 2019
Denave, Team, Designation
It’s a crowded world out there with competition which is crazy enough to exhaust not just the pursuers but the ones being pursued also. And then comes the big filter – at times apparent and at times not, which the latter party leverages for narrowing down the people they need to invest time in interacting with.
It’s a typical scenario in a B2B landscape where salespeople are vying with one another incessantly to get the attention of the buyer community and quite naturally, not all are able to make that cut in the end. The world of sales isn’t fair you may say because indeed an understanding of human behaviour coupled with accurate data definitely makes it easier for salespeople to anticipate the needs and preferences of B2B buyers and provides them a leg up in the race.
So, what is it exactly that clicks with the customer and influences him to connect with a seller? There are dozens of factors which work parallelly in steering this act, however, not all the factors are such that they are in control of the salespeople. But knowing them all certainly gives an edge to the organisations. Understanding what falls in their circle of control, on what do they have a little influence and what is it that is out of question for them to influence – all this information allows you to focus your energies on the factors you can influence and lessen the energy spent on the ones which lie outside your circle of influence.
Delving deeper into the puzzle of what goes into breaking through the busy buyer, let’s do a bit of retrospection at first. How many times after winning a deal does a sales team invest time into analysing what exactly worked in their favour and similarly, after a failed deal, how many times is the thought of figuring out the missing pieces of the pitch, is pondered over seriously? Not giving enough attention to both these analysis renders you with an absence of a vital piece of information, and that is – What exactly goes into the mind of buyers?
A quick look at a recent survey’s findings to get closer to the answer of this question:
- Only 18% of salespeople are classified by buyers as trusted advisors
- Only 31% of salespeople are able to converse effectively with senior executives
- Only 54% of salespeople can clearly explain how their solution positively impacts a customer’s business
In the light of above shared statistics, the revelation of 2/3rd of B2B salespeople being rated as average or poor by the customers, can be reasoned well.
The scene seems grim but settling with that is like not being in the game after all. It’s a simple 3-step trick which can help you move beyond the boulders.
Resonate | Substantiate | Differentiate
The customer needs to be able to relate with you in the very first step itself for you to be able to land yourself a meeting. The first touchpoint which is generally an email, is the first opportunity for you to create a resonance with the prospective buyer. Subtly establishing the need to act and the criticality of acting right in that moment, through your communication, you’re able to showcase them the probable value addition which you’d bring to the table. And voila – you’d have sparked the interest, be it even a little.
Second comes the substantiating part where you need to validate your claims and showcase actual proofs. The answer to the inherent yet unspoken question in their minds – ‘Why do they trust you?’, needs to be framed by you instead of leaving it up to them to figure out. And lastly, the differentiating stage where you justify that why ONLY you and not your competitor is best suited for their business.
While it may be sounding simple that the gateway to get into your buyer’s mind is reachable through these 3-steps, but the story goes much deeper with lots of intricate elements which make up these 3-steps.
A couple of factors wherein you hold the reigns (while you may know it or not) to piquing customer’s interest:
Buyer Persona Break-Up
Actually, this is the second step while the first one is drawing up the buyer persona. Marketing team, instead of salespeople are the ideal fit for the job which forms the premise of rest of your relationship journey with them. Asking the right questions, avoiding the set & scripted interview and unobtrusively peeking into the pain points of the customer is to be done in the buyer persona understanding interview. And any prospective buyer would be more comfortable in answering these questions to anyone but not to a salesperson because obviously, the profile itself creates a pressure on the buyer which he/ she may try to avoid altogether. Back at home, marketing team can do regular briefings with the sales team or they can work in conjunction for preparing the pitch based on the buyer persona.
Treat this as an important move because if the first step is wrong, you can’t expect the journey to lead into the desired destination. Salespeople needs to be adept in their understanding of the customer as well and not just hold expertise in the product/ service.
Avoiding the subtle ‘naysayer’ catalysts
When it comes to securing attention of the potential buyer, every small manoeuvre at your end counts. Therefore, being watchful of the minor errors which may collate into bigger barriers later, need to be avoided at all cost. Some of them are listed below:
- A hushed follow up after the initial contact is a big turn off for the customers.
- A canned pitch which has not been tailored to the specific needs of the customer is also a big no-no.
- Stark differences in communication style (this includes being pushy or an eagerness to befriend etc.) can also alienate the customer at times.
- In the age of social proofs and extreme reliance on referrals, having a poor social profile, especially on LinkedIn does nothing in favour of the salesperson
Trivia: More than half of the buyers will review a salesperson’s LinkedIn profile, whom they have not met before, prior to as well as after an important business meeting and form an opinion.
Timing the Efforts
A thorough research on the customer’s part will help you master this trick. The thumb rule – Any time is not a good time. Even after you have secured the first meeting and have set the tone of the relationship you aspire to have with the prospect, the journey is still a long way. For moving from ‘cordial’ to ‘close’, utter mindfulness needs to be practiced in terms of timing the follow up actions – be it a follow up or even the sharing of additional information.
The channel and timing of information receipt plays a critical role on whether it would be perceived aptly by the buyer or it will not get the expected attention. The answer to the question of what is the right time, may be different for different customer and hence, this is where the extensive research which was done beforehand, comes into use. And it goes without saying that the quality of content would play a defining role here apart from its landing timing. Balancing the research data, tailored solutions, capabilities’ insights and best practices is the key to ace this part. One word of caution here however – customers are often looking for the math and science behind the dreamy pitch and larger-than-life promises, hence, refrain from sticking just to the history of the matter.
Investing a good deal of time in prepping-up before making that first move, can go miles in making you an expert of getting through even the toughest customers in the world. It is all about standing out without seeming too challenging or demeaning to their existing set of practices. Exercising a stringent methodical approach to research, connection and engagement with a keen eye for timing the acts, is in a nutshell the secret recipe for breaking the notorious walls.
What has been your most arduous experience of establishing that first connect with a prospective customer? What is your ‘go-to’ mantra for such situations? Do share with us your valuable two cents as the community learns and grows from hearing experiences of those who have struggled and eventually won the chase.