Selling is hard. I have been in sales for over a decade and as much as I attempt to ‘detach’, the emotional rollercoaster never goes away.
Selling is hard, and it has only gotten harder as we have all had to re-learn and simplify how to communicate to our customers!
But as much as we like to complain as sellers, there is a group of folks out there who have it tougher…our buyers.
Selling is hard because buying has gotten even harder!
Now, a bit of navel gazing I think is justified. We as sellers have it rough. Buyers are on average 57% through their buying cycle before we get a swing! And when we DO get a chance to talk to our buyers, we get a sliver of the 19% of total buying time buyers spend with all suppliers. And to top it all off – if trends continue 74% of us will be converting from field reps to ‘virtual’ sellers.
Oh, and if given the opportunity, 72% of our buyers would prefer not to have to talk to us to make their purchase! I thought people liked the steak and golf…
So, do we throw up our hands and give up? Should we just let the buyers fester in this complex B2B world on their own? Turns out they may need us after all. When given the opportunity to buy on their own, without a seller’s help, they are 19% more likely to regret their purchase!!!
What a place to be in – everyone seems to be losing.
So, let’s try something novel – let’s be human for a bit and have a bit of empathy with why buyers are doing so much learning on their own. What are buyer’s contending with to buy from us?
Let’s take a peek behind the curtain and get a sense of the complexity our buyers are navigating.
The amount of people our buyers have to wrangle to an agreed upon decision has exploded, doubling since 2015 to an average buying group of over 11! And it’s not just the number of folks, but how much information they are consuming – with each of them accessing an average of 4.5 information sources. It is not a surprise that buyers say they spend 15% of their buying time just deconflicting information…
…and about that information. It is time to face to the music.
Since the pandemic, we have doubled down on a sales strategy of overwhelming our customers!
We released a study in 2019 where 50% of our buyers reported being overwhelmed with high quality information – so what do you do when we are all stuck at home, well put out MORE information. In 2021 this same data point leapt to 75%!
This is crushing our customers’ ability to feel confident in making a complex purchase on behalf of their organization. And to cope, our buyers essentially shut the door to hearing anything more. As can be seen in the below chart, at a certain point, information overload saps the ability of us humans to derive any value from the information itself. So instead, we tend to make decisions on a set of bias instead of on the merits of the information.
We as suppliers are taking the wrong approach.
So how do we give back what digital is taking away?
The first step is to acknowledge this reality by understanding how our buyers buy and, instead of providing more information, have the context for what information your buyer may need and help them sort through it.
Map the Buyer’s Journey
- As demonstrated, buying has changed so drastically that if you were to ask your buyers how they accomplish this feat, they probably couldn’t tell you! What an opportunity for us!
With our experience with helping their peers through this complex process, let’s take the time to map out the buying journey for our customers. We can help identify things like who should be involved, what are common mistakes people make, etc. Then, use this information to build tools to help our customers buy!
Map the Information Landscape
- A quick way to stop the information deluge is to take the time to understand what is already out there that our customers are consuming. Ask your sellers what information their buyers encountered about their challenge, what they used from your website, or even from your competitors. Just think about the impact of walking into a customer meeting with a competitors’ information and helping them make sense of it!
With these two actions, you can instantly change the dynamic with your customers. From a place of skepticism, to one of partnership supported by the incredible, human quality, of empathy.
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