Buyers Are Changing; Here Is How Sellers Should Respond

BY Jessica Helinski
Featured image for “Buyers Are Changing; Here Is How Sellers Should Respond”

Sales leaders recently gathered to discuss the many ways that buyers are changing. A variety of factors are influencing their behavior shifts. Sellers need to be aware of these shifts. Additionally, they must adapt to them or risk staying competitive. 

As Amari Gonzalez writes for LinkedIn:

Over the past few months, we sat down with some of the most innovative sales leaders today … And [we] asked them how they are connecting with buyers.”

These professionals’ discussions uncovered some valuable insights. 

Buyers Are Changing Their Habits

One of the biggest shifts in buyer behavior is that they are consulting their peers more often regarding purchases. While referrals have always been important, they’re even more vital today. 

… Buyers turn to their networks before vendors for information, [so] building relationships with your customers is essential,” Gonzalez explains.

Unfortunately, despite their importance, many sellers aren’t reaping the benefits of referrals. SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep study found that sellers say 29% of their prospects/​accounts have given them a referral. This signals a major missed opportunity to connect with today’s buyers. 

Sellers must make it a priority to inspire, and ask for, referrals. First, you need to ensure that you are establishing solid, valuable relationships with your clients. If you don’t nurture these relationships, why would they bother to refer you?

Continually providing value and uncovering new opportunities for your prospects is key. “Do this consistently, and you won’t just build lasting relationships with your existing customers – the data says you’ll attract new ones through word-​of-​mouth,” writes Gonzalez.

Worried about how to ask? You’ve got plenty of options that work. SalesFuel highlights a few in this article, including establishing a referral program. 

In addition, RAIN Group’s Mary Flaherty advises, 

"If you work with other companies that you value, propose a partnership to exchange referrals with your respective clients. Offering to refer your customers also creates a welcome bit of leverage when negotiating.”

Buying Committees Are Growing

Another way that buyers are changing is how they engage in purchases. Buying committees are more common, and these groups are growing in size. 

According to Rebecca Feiten, the director of strategic and enterprise sales for EMEA at Outreach, this is also causing the process to lengthen. 

Buying committees are getting larger,” she said. “Our sales cycles have to get a little bit longer to engage all of those people … And building a business case is more crucial now than ever before.”

One way that sellers can adapt to this change is to practice multi-​threading. Instead of only working with one contact, multi-​threading involves having multiple contacts within a company. 

Having access to many people across an organization allows for the development of multiple relationships. It also helps speed up the process. The seller won’t be stuck waiting for their lone contact to communicate with the other decision-makers. 

To multi-​thread successfully, sellers must, according to 6sense, understand the following:

Effective multi-​threading relies on understanding: 

  • Who is in the buying team
  • What interests them
  • Who is engaged (and who isn't)
  • Gaps in the buying committee 

You can uncover these insights with research, as well as simply asking your initial contact. As SalesFuel suggests, “work with them to expand your network to include their colleagues. This will help you build a strong support system of champions … And [also] safeguard your efforts if someone does leave their position.”

While you can’t stop the fact that buyers are changing, you can adapt your process to align with these changes. You’ll be prepared to meet their needs, and you’ll outshine competitors who are stuck in old habits.

Photo by Yan Krukau