The first half of 2018 is almost in the history books. How are you doing on meeting quota? Are you among the 47% of sales reps who are struggling to make this year's numbers? You might be able to close the gap by understanding what your B2B buyers really want.
The 2018 Buyer Preferences Study from MillerHeiman Group is based on the opinions of 500 B2B buyers who make purchases of $10,000 or more. Topline findings from the study show that over 60% of salespeople meet buyers’ expectations. And over 30% of salespeople exceed buyers’ expectations. These numbers are fantastic.
The more unsettling news is that buyers are changing their process. That process doesn't always include a sales rep. When buyers have a problem and start searching for a solution, they turn to a number of sources:
- Subject matter experts in the industry 43%
- Past experience with a vendor 35.8%
- Vendor websites 35.4%
- Industry events/trade shows/conferences 33.6%
If the timing is right, you might connect with a buyer at a trade show or they might find content on your website. Otherwise, only 23% of buyers prefer to go to a vendor salesperson to solve their business problem.
Even worse, buyers often don’t engage with vendors until late in the purchase process. The following lists shows specific stages in the buying process and the percentage of buyers who will reach out at each stage.
- Identify and clarify needs 29.8%
- Identify solutions 26.0%
- Evaluate solutions 24%
- Resolve concerns 10%
- Negotiate 8.0%
- Implement 2.2%
These numbers aren’t great indicators for sales reps. Nearly 30% of buyers identify their needs before they contact a vendor. This situation means you have less time to differentiate yourself and your solution once you get in front of a buyer.
Is there a way you can break out from the pack? Yes, say the analysts.
First, understand the decision-making style of your prospects. At most organizations, more than one person will be involved in the process. Identify and target buyers who are analytical and consider themselves risk takers. These folks will be more willing to talk to reps early in the buying process. Second, educate yourself. When buyers encounter a business challenge that is new, or risky for themselves or the business, they are all ears. They want to hear from sales reps when they are identifying and clarifying their needs.
You can score more B2B sales by targeting the risk-takers and analytical-type buyers at your accounts. You can also get your foot in the door earlier by talking with prospects about their most challenging business problems.