Buyers are changing. The advances made in consumer sales has created new expectations for B2B buying, after all, buyers are consumers first and foremost. Personalization, immediate gratification, and simplicity are all areas buyers expect when making a purchase. Have you kept up with the changes in order to meet buyer expectations or do you have a buyer seller gap that could be negatively impacting your sales.
The recent CSO Insights paper, The Growing Buyer-Seller Gap, digs into this topic to understand the factors causing the gap that has resulted in just over half (53%) of sales representatives meeting their quota, which is the fifth consecutive year with a decline.
The term “customer experience” has become a focus for forward looking marketing, sales, and success teams. Buyers don’t think of their experiences with your organization as different departments, it’s a singular journey and they expect consistency across touch points.
Unfortunately, sales organizations have not kept up with the pace of change on the buyer side. This could be for a variety of reasons. They may consider what has worked in the past will continue to work. They may also be leary of trying new things that could impact their income in the near-term.
The study indicated that nearly two-thirds (65%) of buyers found value in discussing their situation with a salesperson. Be careful to read this as a positive. Nearly the same number (62%) said that sales reps simply met their expectations. This number was twice as high as those that exceeded expectations. And when asking the top resources how they prefer to solve a business challenge, sales contact was next to last. It was below websites, colleagues, analysts, online communities, events, and publications among others.
One of the challenges most affecting sales teams is that buyers are engaging them later in the process. According to the study:
- 70% wait until after they have fully defined their needs
- 44% wait until after they have identified solutions first
- 20% wait until they are ready to lock down the details
If sellers can adapt their approach however, 90% of buyers are open to earlier engagement.
To better align their sales approach to buyers, the following areas need to be addressed.
Understand Their Business
The expectation is that you understand the needs of their business as well as their needs. Going into a sales call without a level of clarity around what they do and how your product or service could help them will result in a difficult sale. Fortunately there are many options out there that can help your team with this research.
Listening more than talking has always been important for salespeople. Today, people are accustomed to short, direct, and compelling interactions. We live in a sound bite society, and in a sales context those sound bites need to convey that you are listening and understanding their needs.
Post Sale Follow Up
Customer success is often part of the sales department and is a vital element in closing the buyer seller gap. Checking in, sharing information, and showing interest in customers not only retains them for longer, it also opens the door to word of mouth referrals, who are some of the most valuable buyers for your company.
The study also highlighted the fact that sales leaders realize their relationships with buyers could improve. 78% would like to improve to become more of a Trusted Partner or Strategic Contributor with their buyers. By doing their homework, understanding the needs of the buyer and relating to them, and focusing on the long term, you can reduce the buyer seller gap.
If you have questions on improving your sales leadership, send us a note. Sheer Velocity’s executive recruiters in Chicago, Denver, Seattle and St. Louis work with you to find the best candidates for your leadership needs and provide support to ensure their successful integration into your company culture.