Terry Corbell, The Biz Coach
By Terry Corbell
Business Consultant

To Sell to B2B Executives, Upgrade Digital-Age Sales Skills



E-commerce is increasingly popular. But in B2B sales, research shows a salesperson’s skills are paramount when the buyer is an executive.

So to maximize your revenue, make sure your salespeople are prepared with advanced sales training.

The “SiriusDecisions’ 2015 B-to-B Buying Study” seems to confirm the supposition.

In fact, the research contradicts conventional wisdom that indicates the role and importance of salespeople is irrelevant.

Ambro b2bIn reality, it’s just the opposite. In an era of digital buying behaviors, executives want to deal with salespeople.

“While the cognitive buying decision process is linear and sequential, we found that how buyers consume content and interact with provider organizations is not linear – in fact, the interaction patterns are much more episodic,” says SiriusDecisions Vice President Marisa Kopec.

“For example, a buyer can perform a single search on Google or go to a sales meeting, and that one interaction might provide all the information they need to inform each of the decision gates they need to get through in order to make a decision to buy,” she explains.

The 1,000 responding executives in North America and Europe made “significant buying decisions for $500 million in purchases, and they said the salesperson was important.

“We found that buyers interact with representatives during every stage of the decision-making process at least half the time, and that the type of decision – or buying scenario – greatly impacted the number and types of interactions,” adds Senior Research Director Jennifer Ross at SiriusDecisions.

In an era of digital buying behaviors, executives want to deal with salespeople.

The study’s key findings:

—The price point of an offering affects the number and type of interactions that occur between a buyer and provider.

— As the price point of an offering goes up, human interactions between the buyer and the provider also increase. But even at low price points, there is evidence that human-to-human interactions occur.

— More than half the time, sales representative involvement starts at the beginning of the buyer’s journey. In complex buying scenarios, sales rep involvement starts at the beginning of the journey two-thirds of the time.

— The highest level of reported buyer/seller interaction for all buying scenarios occurred during the education phase of the buyer’s journey (the first decision gate in the purchasing decision process).

—Not only do buyers interact with a sales representative from the winning provider organization in all phases of their decision-making process, but they overwhelmingly describe those interactions as positive (in over 85 percent of the buying experiences studied).

As you might guess, SiriusDecisions sells what it calls the B-to-B Buyer Interactions Model. It categorizes every type of interaction a buyer can have with a provider, to help organizations understand the balance required between human and non-human interactions.

The bottom-line:

“The new way to think about b-to-b buying is that human interactions still occur and matter, and that the rise of digital marketing doesn’t mean those interactions go away,” says Ms. Kopec.

“It just means that buyers and providers are interacting in new digital ways. Just because buying behavior is done digitally does not mean that sales representatives are no longer required to instigate or facilitate a buying process,” she adds.

From the Coach’s Corner, in order for you to successfully sell to executives, here are related tips:

The 7 Steps to Higher Sales — Secrets for sales success – seven steps to higher sales, five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy, and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections.

To Sell Ideas to Senior Executives, Tap into Their Emotions — If you want to persuade a senior executive, polish your soft skills. Whether you’re trying to sell your ideas to your CEO or you’re trying to sell to a key decision maker at another company, big data is important. But data isn’t the most important factor in persuading senior executives.

7 Tips for Strong Results in Setting B2B Appointments with CEOs — As every salesperson knows, face time with B2B prospects gives you a foundation for sales success.  Execution in the appointment-setting process is, of course, is key to being successful.

Big Ticket Sales – Prevent Buyer’s Remorse with 4 Precautions — In big-ticket sales — from consulting services to information technology — customer emotions run high. Buyer’s remorse will cost you a big sale. To prevent buyer’s remorse, you need to be a calming influence in order for the customer to understand you’re providing value.

Top 18 Attributes of the Best Salespeople — What’s needed to be effective in sales? Merely having a gregarious personality will no longer cut it in the 21st century. Here are the top 18 attributes of the best salespeople.

“I think the biggest mistake that salespeople make today is that they try to pretend they’re not salespeople.” 

-Irreverent Sales Girl 


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of Ambro at www.freedigitalphotos.net

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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.