What Buyers Want: Survey Looks At Virtual Selling Gaps

BY Jessica Helinski
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What buyers want is an age-​old sales question. It’s also one that many salespeople are grappling with now that they are doing more virtual selling. Each and every buyer is different, but there are some common things that reps can do to boost success with virtual sales. A recent study by RAIN Group uncovered insights into what buyers expect and what sellers actually deliver.

We uncovered significant gaps between what influences buyer purchase decisions and seller effectiveness,” writes Erica Schultz, chief marketing marketing officer. “The sad truth? Only two or three in 10 sellers do well in the four areas that most influence purchase decisions.”

RAIN Group shares their findings, including the six areas that have the biggest overall impact on whether or not a customer buys virtually. They also highlight any gaps that exist between what buyers want most and what sales reps are actually doing. 

What buyers want when being sold to virtually

Education appears to be a major area where there are gaps. Specifically:

  • 64% of buyers are seeking education about new ideas and perspectives from their sellers, but only 44% of sellers deliver.
  • 71% are seeking a thorough discovery of their needs, compared to 26% of buyers doing so.
  • 68% want to be shown how to solve a problem, but 34% of salespeople are effective at this.

Salespeople need to be able to differentiate between showing off features and actually educating the customer, i.e. revealing opportunities they may have missed or demonstrating how their company can use the product or service to tackle a problem in a different way.

SalesFuel’s Rachel Cagle discussed this topic recently in a blog post, writing that reps must first decide what they want the prospect to learn. “In your time spent researching your prospect, you’ve (hopefully) learned why they could use your product or service,” she explains. “Based on that information, if there was one aspect of your product you could educate the buyer on, what would it be? Find out which part of your product would be most important for your prospect to know right away and set up a plan to drive that point home so that it is understood completely.”

What buyers want is not always what they need. It’s up to you to uncover their true needs and share how your product or service fulfills those needs. Doing this virtually doesn’t have to be tricky either. Make sure you’re completely familiar with the digital tools at your disposal and that you’re using each to educate each and every prospect. 

Listening is also an area where there is a notable gap. RAIN reports that there is a 42-​point gap when it comes to what buyers want in regard to listening and what they are getting. The inability to be physically face-​to-​face can have an impact on the prospect’s perception of being listened to, so sellers need to be extra thoughtful about the signs they are giving

Physically, eye contact is key. It can be easy to get distracted when conducting business virtually, especially if one is at home, but reps need to keep their eyes on the prospect as much as possible. This simple act reinforces that there is active listening happening. Also, appropriate nodding, smiling and other cues can give the prospect assurance that they are being heard. RAIN Group also suggests post-​meeting things reps can do to assure prospects they were listened to, such as sending out an email summarizing the discussion. 

These are just two of the six areas in which RAIN Group found a gap between what buyers want when buying virtually and what they are actually receiving. Salespeople can boost their virtual selling efficiency by reading these findings and then making adjustments to their own strategies to close any gaps.