As a result of the current situation and the “new” environment for which we now find ourselves in, SMEs like many other businesses operating in business-to-business (B2B) markets will no longer be able to rely on traditional approaches of in-person events such as trade shows, conferences, large networking events to engage with business prospects and establish strong relationships.
Furthermore, the events of the past several months associated have further influenced business buyers to do most, if not all, of their interactions online – as well as increased their expectations.
Challenges for the new B2B buyer
The B2B buyer is now more risk averse and seeks DECISION CONFIDENCE. In other words, confidence in their ability to make decisions as well as to have the clarity and assurance as to how to move their business forward.
According to a recent study by the Hinge Marketing, Inside the Buyers’ Brain, within the professional services sector some of the biggest challenges for business buyers are:
- Finding and keeping good people
- Strategy and planning issues
- Financial issues
- Maintaining quality
- Dealing with a difficult economy in a competitive market
These issues could potentially be significant opportunities for your SME to assist buyers struggling with these challenges.
Business buyers are now very open to and are seeking help from sellers who can:
- Listen effectively
- Undertake a thorough discovery of their needs, concerns and wants
- Show what’s possible and how to solve a problem
- Educate them with new ideas and perspectives
68% of business buyers say that providing new ideas and insights has a high influence on their purchase decision
Missed opportunity and shortcomings of the B2B seller
Despite buyers’ need for ideas, insights and guidance, this is something many have found to be hard to come by. Studies conducted by the Rain Group have found that sellers are perceived to be falling short in the following areas:
- Conducting a thorough needs discovery
- Collaborating and interacting virtually
- Educating new ideas and perspectives
- Reaching out virtually
The new B2B seller
To succeed in this new “next normal” requires that the seller’s role must be that of an ADVISOR which involves the following:
- Providing new insights and ideas (for some inspiration, check out this article)
- Giving advice
- Questioning the status quo
- Driving change based on ideas and insights
The formula for B2B virtual selling success
In order to sell your firm’s offerings will require you to undertake 3 critical steps:
- Needs discovery
- Making the case for change – The buyer’s new realm reality
- Providing the roadmap – Prove it will work!
The needs discovery
Your first critical step is to conduct a thorough exploration of the goals, concerns, wants and needs of the buying group (i.e. Buyers) within your target customers and prospects. It is only by having this depth of understanding that you will be able to complete the other critical steps.
This needs discovery can be conducted virtually through 1 or more workshops so that you and your team can have a clear understanding of:
- Problems and/or opportunities being pursued
- Decision-making process
Preparation is critical to ensure that you have the right participants, ask the right questions and gain the right kinds of information from these sessions.
To assist you with your discovery sessions, obtain a copy of the free playbook: Deciphering the Business Buyer in the “New Norm”
Making the case for change
Once you have obtained a strong understanding of your buyers’ needs, issues, goals, there are 5 steps you will need to undertake to make the case for change which will make business buyers want to buy.
Demonstrate change is inevitable
- Provide evidence to current clients (i.e. buyers) and prospects of the changes that are occurring within “their world”. This could be from an industry, geographic, economic, environmental, legal and/or technology perspectives. Doing so, will also help build rapport, trust and credibility
Show them what’s possible
- Demonstrate what the “new reality” could be as a result of taking action.
- Quantitatively: e.g. more revenues, reduced cycle times
- Qualitatively: e.g. reputation, impact on staff, community
Note: This is where providing new ideas, insights and opportunities play a great role!
- Show them the cost of inaction
- Quantitatively: e.g. loss of revenues, market share, decreased productivity
- Qualitatively e.g. staff morale/culture
- Illustrate why a new or different approach i.e. your approach is the way to go
Prove it will work!
- Collaborate and WORK WITH buyers to develop an implementation action plan as to how they can achieve that “new reality” and the desired outcomes
- Provide case studies, testimonials and references to demonstrate how others have been successful to do so
Remember: It’s the buyer’s fear of failure that often results in a “No” decision.
Watch the Breaking Thru in B2B video: Virtual selling to drive your business recovery and growth
Tips for your B2B virtual discovery sessions
- Depending on the amount of and/or complexity of the information required, consider sending the questions in advance of the session. This will assist both parties to be better prepared and can make for more meaningful discussions
- Consider breaking up the Discovery Sessions into smaller time allotments (e.g. 2 hours) as it is more difficult to maintain engagement for such workshop activities online
- Encourage more dialogue during the sessions. Have regular check-ins
- Be sure to do a recap/follow-up after the session
- Consider sending it in the form of a video
- Be sure to clearly state the next steps—by whom and when
Getting started: Take action now
- Meet with your Sales, Marketing, Client Delivery teams
- Determine which current prospects and customers you wish to meet with
- Prepare for those Discovery sessions. (Get your free playbook which contains questions to ask, tips on preparation as well as what buyers will expect from the session)
- Develop your account plans as to how you will manage, nurture these customers and prospects
PS. Need help with developing your plans to nurture, manage and work with your key business clients? Get in touch with us