B2B sales can be tough. Buyers are well educated on products and services, including your competitors, and frequently work in teams. Often, you don’t just need to convince one person to buy, you need to convince five or more.
Fortunately, many B2B buyers have the same concerns. According to research from Aberdeen Group and PJA Advertising, there are a few issues that come up consistently during B2B sales experiences. To help improve your sales efforts, below are B2B buyers’ five biggest turn-offs and tips for maximizing your company’s sales experience.
This is the number one issue B2B buyers have during sales. Buyers sit in meetings and listen to sale professionals talk about their company and their products. Sales representatives tend to take deep dives into product features without taking the time to learn about the prospect’s company and their particular needs.
If you work in B2B sales, take a step back. Make sure you’re listening more than speaking. Dive into your prospect’s business and their needs, then tailor your conversations around what you learn. Everything you say about your product and company should be in the context of how it solves your prospect’s problems and makes their work easier.
Traditional vendors zero in on the sale. They want deals that increase their own profits, but that’s often where the relationship between vendors and buyers ends. Sales pros have to understand that B2B buyers don’t want vendors anymore, they want long-term partners. This is a huge opportunity and should drive your efforts moving forward.
Stop putting all your effort into the initial sale and view every conversation as the start of a lasting relationship. For this to work, however, you can’t just pay lip service to the idea of a relationship. You need to put systems in place to keep in touch after prospects become customers.
Start by setting up systems that provide regular customer communication, such as helpful emails, an interactive website, customer portal, or online community. These platforms allow your company to answer questions, post educational information, and provide product training that customers can access whenever it’s most convenient for them. Customers can also start their own discussions with your company or their peers, tapping into a growing knowledge base to learn and get more value from your products over time, which fosters a positive, long-term relationship with your company.
There’s a reason why people often trust peer reviews and recommendations more than company-created content: they know it’s more objective. Intentional or not, your company likely provides information that’s favorable about your product and doesn’t objectively compare your offers to competitors.
B2B buyers want objective information to help them frame their decision. You can do this by comparing and contrasting your offers with similar options, as well as providing pro and con lists. When you do this, be honest. Acknowledge your competitors’ strengths as well as pointing out their weaknesses.
While this type of approach might not seem obvious, it’s a great tactic to use in B2B sales. Your honesty will impress prospects, positioning you as a trusted source of information instead of just another sales professional making a pitch. And the more your prospects trust you, the more likely it is that they’ll trust you with their business.
Here it is again – the idea of long-term relationships instead of just a one-time sales transaction. As a B2B sales professional, you should not focus just on closing a deal. You need to emphasize the relationship prospects will start with your company and how it will become more valuable over time.
You can use the same tools we talked about earlier to help accomplish this. Educational emails, a customer portal or online community, and regular check-in conversations with customers will all emphasize long-term relationships instead of transactions.
Always make it easy for customers to contact your company to ask questions, seek support, and learn about your products on their own. Your company, in turn, should be responsive. Have staff regularly interact with customers via phone, email, and in your community by answering questions, publishing announcements on new releases or functionality, and otherwise engaging with customers. Emphasize the importance of this during sales conversations so prospects see how dedicated you are to building a lasting relationship.
Sometimes B2B buyers are impressed with the sales experience. It’s what comes after the sale that disappoints. If you emphasize partnership and long-term relationships during sales, for instance, you need to deliver on those promises after the purchase.
Customer support, connections, and education are key. Use those pillars to create an engaging, helpful, and consistent customer experience. Many of the techniques we’ve already talked about can help you do this. Start by providing a place for buyers to go after they become customers, such as an online community. Then be responsive by providing helpful, regular educational communication so customers can learn and increase the value they get from your products.
B2B buyers are all saying the same thing about the sales process: they want lasting, valuable partnerships instead of one-time transactions.
Build a solid foundation for those partnerships before you even talk to prospects. When you approach sales as long-term relationship building opportunities rather than one-time pitches, you change the typical vendor dynamic to one of mutual concern for the growth and health of a business or industry.
You can even demonstrate your commitment by inviting prospects to preview your customer portal or online community as a guest through a trial membership. As prospects experience your dedication to providing value and helping them be successful, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase.