Industrial B2B sales have been going through a transformation in the past century, with user data rapidly moving online and expanding immensely in scope. When longer buying cycles on the buyer side are combined with advanced prospect targeting on the sales end, we can deduce this: buyers will expect more.
Increased Customer Expectations
According to McKinsey, 'radical changes in buyers’ preferences, with buyers being more content-driven, technically savvy, and comfortable engaging via digital channels' means that you're dealing with buyers who aren't looking for your basic sales deck anymore.
Even in Industrial Manufacturing, as per SAP, 'Procurement managers and others expect that doing business with their vendors to be easier and require less time-consuming meetings with sales reps (the orange process steps in the picture below), but still easily acquiring all the valuable information about the company as well as the products and services it offers in a convenient way through web channels (the gray process steps) – with all the associated comfort of a state-of-the-art B2C buying experience.'
It’s an interesting conundrum; per another McKinsey study, ‘customers increasingly want simple, fast, and inexpensive transactions, on the one hand, and highly complex solutions designed by experienced (and often global) teams, on the other.’
There is also an increase in decision makers from 5.4 to 6.8 in the last 2 years, as per a Harvard Business Review (HBR) study, which shows that there might be an overwhelming number of possibilities when it comes to dealing with prospects.
If there isn't management buy-in, your sales team can attempt to work more than 24 hours a day, but there will still be leads that will leak out from the bottom of the funnel.
Buyers Expect Hyper-Targeted And Customised Sales Pitches
What does this mean? Well, since it takes so long to make a purchase decision, buyers will expect your sales reps to bring their a-game, if not it won’t be worth their time. After all, they're preoccupied with their own margin retention problems, and expect you to help them get a leg up on their competitors.
With so much data available online, buyers will also expect you to have assessed all pertinent information before trying to make a sale. After all, if you can learn so much about the company online, shouldn’t you be able to tailor your pitch to their company?
This means that customisation of the sales pitch is key. The data you’ve learnt from advanced analytics, as well as the level of engagement with particular types of content, can help to fill in the blanks, and make your presentation more targeted. For example, if you’ve realised that the Head of IT keeps engaging with content about integration scenarios, then focusing on that might be the key to winning that stakeholder over.
Also, a guided trial or a demo is a good idea; allowing prospects to view and experience the software allows you to see the user experience details. You can answer some questions during the demo itself, helping to build trust between the prospect and your business. This can also help when you're doing your sales pitch, because you already know what they are focused on, and can prepare for questions that will probably come up.
At the same time, you need to ensure that you don't lose prospects at the bottom of the funnel, just because of poor customer service or slow quote generation. You need to make sure that when they're ready to buy, you're ready to sell, immediately.
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