The way people buy has changed. Nowadays, corporate buyers can sense salesy marketing messages from a mile away and avoid pushy sales reps who pressure them into a deal.
The new norm is: Everyone wants to buy, but nobody wants to be sold to.
How B2B sales have changed
Sellers used to have leverage. They were holding all the information that the buyer wanted, so the salesperson fully controlled the sales process. Those days are long gone. Thanks to the internet, the buyer has access to a wealth of information online to make an informed purchase decision.
These statistics show how B2B buyer behaviour has evolved:
- 94% of B2B buyers do extensive online research before making a decision.
- 59% even prefer online research to talking to a sales rep.
- 75% use social media for purchasing decisions.
- 60 – 90% of the decision-making process is already complete before the buyer even contacts a salesperson.
What does this mean for HR and L&D teams who are tasked with developing training for sales reps? Well, your sales team needs a different kind of skills set to succeed in the new environment.
The 4 new skills that your sales team needs to master
Perfecting the sales pitch and negotiation tactics won’t cut it anymore in today’s business landscape. Here is what they should master instead:
1. Utilising social media
Social media is where B2B buyers are looking for information that ultimately influences their purchasing decisions – and that’s where your sales reps should be. When they position themselves as experts in their field and consistently share valuable information that’s directed at your prospects’ pain points, they can more easily connect with potential buyers and start the conversation.
2. Understanding your prospects’ needs
B2B buyers have heard too many generic pitches. The new generation of sales reps need to first ask the right questions (think open-ended questions) and fully understand the buyers’ needs by actively listening to their answers. Only then, should they think of introducing your product or service – not in a pitch but an authentic conversation.
3. Challenging and teaching potential buyers
The whole dynamic between buyer and seller is evolving. Sales reps are now trusted advisors who take every opportunity to help, teach, and delight the buyers, ultimately helping them to make the right buying decision. The most successful salespeople take a consultative approach and are not afraid of challenging the buyer to think in new dimensions.
4. Communicating value
Most sales reps have understood that they shouldn’t focus on features, but rather on benefits. There is one thing that’s even more important though: communicating value. The key questions every salesperson should answer are, “Why should the client care about this product or service? How will it help them to do their jobs better?”
Where to go from here
There is often no better way of learning the ins and outs of B2B sales than throwing the sales team right into the lion’s den. However, they can do a lot of damage if they are unprepared for today’s challenges.
The alternative is sending them to a simulation training where they will get a taste of real-world selling without the risk of alienating an actual client.
By learning to assess and respond to the emotional and personal needs of the buyers, your team will be fully prepared to close the next big contract.
How has your approach to sales training changed? Let us know in the comments!