Selling with Insights: The Why and How of Approaching Informed Buyers with Insight
In our previous blog post, we discussed four changes in buyer behavior driving four challenges for sellers.
- Online Perception Bias
- Reputation Bias
- Solution Bias
- Procurement Process Bias
How to Approach Informed Buyers
Buyers are doing their research, and traditional sellers are getting left behind. It is tempting to throw your hands up in defeat and simply respond reactively to the opportunities your customers give you. This approach puts too much of your fate in the hands of your marketing team and can drive intense price competition. Sellers need to engage informed buyers differently. To avoid commoditization, rather than simply respond, sellers must create and shape opportunities.
- Shaping opportunities requires the seller to change the way the customer thinks about their needs or a solution to the seller’s advantage. It is most applicable when the customer is far along in their buying cycle and has already formed a concept for what they want or need. Shaping the opportunity requires the sales rep to disrupt the customer’s thinking so that they take a few steps back and reconsider the need or solution. Through building trust and credibility, and through sharing relevant insight based on credible research or experience, the seller challenges the buyer to think through what’s wrong or what’s missing in their prescribed approach. Shaping opportunities creates a win-win because it helps mitigate competition and price sensitivity for the seller while resulting in a better solution for your customer.
- Creating opportunities requires the seller to make the customer aware of a new issue or opportunity or raise the sense of urgency of an issue to act sooner. This is most applicable when the customer is very early in — or not even in — their buying process. The sales rep that engages the customer at this level is trying to provoke a need rather than responding to a request. As in the shape mode, sales reps must build trust and credibility and share relevant insight based on credible research or experience. By doing this, the seller challenges the buyer to think through the risks of not prioritizing and accelerating an initiative. Creating opportunities creates a win-win because it helps mitigate competition and price sensitivity for the seller while helping the customer move forward on an initiative to help them make money, save money or manage risk.
Effective Utilization of Insights
As mentioned above, creating and shaping opportunities requires the sales rep to leverage insight to challenge the customer’s mindset. Insight is information or ideas that are based on credible research, authoritative content or relevant experiences and are tailored to a buyer’s challenges and opportunities. When shared, it encourages the buyer to think about his needs in a new way, showing him a path to solve a challenge or capitalize on an opportunity by leveraging the capabilities and differentiators offered by the seller.
Selling with insight is not about inundating buyers with data and facts. If sellers do not understand how to deliver insights effectively — collaborating with customers rather than dictating to them — the approach can backfire. It requires more advanced preparation skills and communication skills. From our experience, these skills are learnable if the organization has the will and commitment to reinforce a new way of thinking about sales.
Selling with Insights: Techniques to Modernize Your Sales Force
Twenty years ago, a sales rep met with customers to tell them about his products, and all he needed was polished marketing materials and an enthusiastic sales pitch. In most cases, buyers didn’t have access to other information unless it came from other sales reps with a similar approach. If they were impressed or persuaded, there was a good chance that they could buy from you with little additional input or process.
Times have now changed. Remember, buyers may be as far as 60% through their buying process before they contact a sales rep. To overcome the four challenges driven by changing buyer behavior, you must approach informed buyers with insight that adds value to the conversation. Sales reps need to transform their approach by anticipating buyer problems, offering compelling insights and tailoring solutions to specific customer needs. Training sales reps to respond to changes in buyer behaviors is the best way to guarantee that you don’t end up in a race to the bottom.
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