Google has become common ground and there is hardly a question that the search engine cannot answer. It affects the B2B sales process and as a business, you need to meet this new standard in your sales process.
Why is this article relevant?
Research means the world to the modern buying process, and while the trend of searching for information online has started with B2C, it has since moved on to B2B. This means, that you must rethink your sales process and capture the potential customers in another way. Potential customers will do their research before, after, and during the dialogue with a salesperson. They seek answers to questions, read reviews, evaluate credibility, and look for confirmation that the solution is the right one to consider.
Research of the buying process
In 2020, FocusVision released a report examining the buying process of 240 marketing executives, who had purchased a marketing solution in the past year. The survey concluded, among other things:
- The B2B customer had read at least 13 pieces of content, before the decision was made. 8 were prepared by the salesperson themself.
- The content ranges widely – from short to long articles, videos, and infographics to sales presentations, white papers, and product information.
- The type of content changes during the buying process. In the beginning, impact, thought leadership, and third-party analytics are essential, while performance specifications and reference cases become important at a later stage.
Depending on when and how you communicate to customers, they are typically far in the decision-making process, before the organization’s salespeople are given the opportunity to influence it. As a B2B company, it becomes clear, that relevant content must be produced and communicated, if leads should become customers. You need to answer their questions, focus on the opportunities, share success stories, and help them find the right solution. Alternatively, if you do not catch them through your communication, they might find answers elsewhere.
What should you do?
You need to answer any questions the customer may have
For B2B companies, it’s a great challenge, that the modern B2B buyer will collect and evaluate knowledge on their own. This places great demands on the sales process and must be adapted to the new buyers journey, which looks like this:
- The attention phase – the potential customer recognizes, that he or she has a need and starts researching
- The consideration phase – the potential customer identifies which solutions are available on the market, gathers information about the various providers, and holds them up against each other. At the same time, the customer builds requirement specifications with the decision group and may need to talk to an advisor without being ready to buy.
- The decision phase – the potential customer has found the right solution, and there are a few providers he or she is ready to talk to. The possible solutions are then discussed in the decision group, before a final purchase is made.
The buyers journey is not a linear process
The buyers journey is not a linear process, as each new piece of information can lead to new questions, which send the customer back to the attention phase. As a B2B company, it is your job to stimulate interest and answer any questions the customer may have during the sales process. The easier and more compelling you make it for the customer, the greater the chance of converting to a sale in the end.
Let the buyers journey define your sales process
The B2B customer’s buying process leads to a change in the B2B companies. Sales is no longer solely the sales reps job, it also becomes part of marketing.
Marketing must create the necessary content and make sure that the relevant information is available on the right channels – and that sales know how to use the content correctly. That way, the customer can do his research and make a qualified decision, before the salesperson takes over.
Act as an advisor – not a salesperson
When the salesperson enters the process, it is much more about acting as an advisor rather than a salesperson. Mind you, acting as a personal consultant in the relationship, is becoming more and more important. In this way, the customer will feel that the solution is adapted to their needs.
Digitization has led to a significant change in the sales process at B2B companies, and more than ever, it’s important that sales and marketing go hand in hand to serve the B2B customer. The better your company is at answering any questions in the research phase, the greater the chance that the customer will choose your solution in the end.
Adapt your sales process in relation to the buying journey in your CRM system and marketing automation. As a HubSpot Platinum Partner, we do it for our customers through our concept: Sales as a Service, where HubSpot is central.