Technological advances in solution development and distribution continue to constantly evolve, so too, are the relationships between buyers and sellers in the rapidly-changing B2B landscape. For sales organizations, in particular, it is imperative that they understand and address their customers’ changing needs and desired outcomes. But how can sales organizations keep up with their buyers’ ever-changing demands?
This issue is exactly what Frank V. Cespedes and Tiffani Bova successfully address in their Harvard Business Review article, “What Salespeople Need to Know About the New B2B Landscape.”
In the article, Cespedes and Bova argue that only those organizations that use sales models which do not avoid or resist change, but rather adapt to “changing buying protocols” will be successful in the new B2B landscape. The authors point out sales organizations that are using outdated assumptions as a part of their training, enablement, and overall organizational processes for understanding their buyers in the current market will encounter the largest obstacles. Cespedes and Bova explain most sales organizations have framed the customer buying journey for the past 100 years by using the antiquated Awareness; Interest; Desire; Action (AIDA) model.
Nevertheless, the authors argue that because the customer buying journey has now changed since B2B buyers are no longer operating in a traditional, linear process, but an ever-evolving, stream process, to reach their purchasing decisions. Therefore, B2B sellers must make a conscious effort to understand three important insights if they are to successfully navigate the shifts in the changing B2B landscape. Cespedes and Bova explain these three key insights for helping sellers understand the new B2B landscape include the following:
- Buyer interactions with salespeople are now more important than ever.
- Buyers have much more information from outside sources, including the Internet, providing them with many alternative solutions.
- There is not a single sales tactic that is consistently effective with every customer at any point in the current buyer’s journey.
Based on the above insights, the authors offer three important considerations B2B sellers should be very mindful of if they are to be successful in helping to negotiate the complicated buying process. These important considerations include:
- Sellers should have an adaptive sales model to change with their customers’ behaviors and they should make more efforts to engage with their customers in-person.
- Sellers must work to foster greater collaboration between their sales and marketing departments if they are to tell a cohesive story around the tailored value their solution can bring to the buyer in effectively addressing their buyers’ desired outcomes.
- Sellers must understand that one size does not fit all; there should not be only one sales tactic that is used to cater to each and every buyer since no two buyers are the same.
Ultimately, the message that Cespedes and Bova hope the reader will take away from their article is that if sellers focus more on understanding how they can empower their customers, rather than trying to simply sell to their customers. Then, both the seller and buyer will benefit every time.