Are you focusing on the needs of your buyers… or your own? Let’s break down the buying cycle to understand what goes on in the minds of B2B buyers.
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In this article:
- About My Guest — Jim Dickie, CSO Insights
- The B2B Buying Behavior
- When Do Buyers Consult With Sales Reps?
- What Does the Sales Force Need to Do?
- Become a Problem Solver
Inside the Mind of B2B Buyers | What Is the Buying Cycle
About My Guest—Jim Dickie, CSO Insights
Hi, this is Gabe from Sales Insider and in this post, I’ll share what I’ve learned about the buying process when I sat down with Jim Dickie, co-founder and independent research fellow at CSO Insights. Together with his research partner Barry Trailer, Jim has been studying the concepts revolving around sales for more than two decades now.
After analyzing thousands of data points, Jim and Barry uncovered the truth behind making a sale. They focused on finding out where buyers and decision makers go to for information before making a purchase.
In this podcast, Jim tells us more about the findings of a case study where he analyzed the buying tendencies of medium-scale B2B buyers. Here’s everything you need to know about what happens inside the minds of your buyers.
Buying Process Definition: A set of steps a customer takes before purchase. It’s also known as “Buyer Decision Process” or “Buying Decision Process.”
The B2B Buying Behavior
One reason salespeople don’t meet their quota is that buyers don’t go to them for information. The buying cycle consists of different stages. Here are the stages buyers go through in the buying cycle:
- Analyze their needs
- Filter out solutions
- Weigh the options
- Make a buying decision
The problem is that buyers don’t necessarily visit a sales rep during that process.
In fact, Jim made a list of entities and individuals whom buyers go to for information. Sadly, sales reps were at the bottom of the list.
To gather information, buyers usually do the following instead:
- Ask subject matter experts
- Recall their past experiences
- Browse through websites
- Visit trade shows
What’s sad about it is the fact that buyers don’t see salespeople as subject matter experts. They would rather consult with people they have already come in contact with like friends, family, and acquaintances, among others.
If you want to increase your sales, you ultimately have to get out there and become a credible source of information. For example, you can join groups on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and interact with different buyers.
Plenty of users go to LinkedIn to ask questions. If you’re selling AI marketing tools, then join discussions where users ask about using AI to market their business.
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When Do Buyers Consult With Sales Reps?
Assuming that sales professionals weren’t to position themselves out there, when would buyers willingly contact one? Out of the 500 buyers that Jim analyzed, here are the results:
- 29.8% of B2B buyers consult salespeople early on in the buying process — This means that they seek the help of sales reps to identify their needs. These types of buyers would often call a sales rep of their choice and immediately state their dilemma, and more often than not, this buyer still doesn’t know what problem they need to solve.
- 26% of buyers only contact a sales rep once they identify the problem and need help finding a solution — These types of buyers have finished identifying their problems and now need the solutions. For a salesman, it’s still not too late to make a sale — you can still do a presentation on how your goods/services can possibly solve their problem.
- 44.2% of B2B buyers identify their problems, gauge their options, and choose a solution before consulting a sales rep — Majority of B2B buyers have already sought the help of a third party source.
Looking at the numbers, the problem is that majority of the buyers don’t give sales agents a chance during the buying cycle. They consult everyone but sales reps during the process, which leaves agents at a disadvantage.
If a buyer consulted their friend about AI marketing tools, that person may know a thing or two about what you sell, but they don’t have the means to give a full problem-needs analysis demonstration about it.
Buyers are already making up their minds before they even talk to sales reps. As a result, most customers talk to reps with a closed mind.
They’re only focused on one thing and they’ll walk out on you the minute you say something different.
What Does the Sales Force Need to Do?
Simply put, sales reps need to inject themselves as early into the buying process as possible. If you can help identify their problems, the chances of you closing the deal would already increase.
You can do this by socializing and interacting with buyers. Instead of cold calling random numbers, use a systematic program to qualify leads that still need help identifying their problems.
Do everything you can so buyers deem you an expert in your industry. The goal is to become their go-to source for information.
This will increase the chances that, instead of them going to their friends or family, they directly consult with you.
Become a Problem Solver
Now, even if you insert yourself early into the buying cycle, there’s still no guarantee that the prospect is going to sign the deal. You still need to create a script that’ll convince them to go with whatever you’re selling.
This is where a lot of sales reps mess up. Instead of identifying and solving the customers’ problems, they jump directly to introducing the benefits and features of their specific product.
What’s the use of explaining the features of a product buyers don’t have a clue about, right?
For example, if someone were looking for AI marketing tools, they wouldn’t want to hear how fast your software runs. They’d want to understand why they’d even need to get your software in the first place.
Instead of feature dumping, help them identify and solve their problems. The only time you can do a demo of your service or product is after your client understands their need to hear about it.
Stop talking about features and start solving problems. When you solve problems, you make things happen, and that’s what buyers are looking for.
When B2B decision makers come to you, tell them how your services can make them, their current project, and the company successful. The chances of you closing a deal will significantly increase.
Sales reps need to overhaul the way they approach buyers. In fact, Jim revealed that, over the past years, only 53% of the salesforce has been meeting their quota.
If you want to increase your closing rates, stop bragging about your product’s features and focus on identifying your B2B customers’ pain points and providing solutions for them. Insert yourself early into the buying cycle, identify the customer’s needs, and propose a solution to it.
What struggles do you have when it comes to dealing with B2B buyers? Share them with us in the comments section down below!
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Links and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:
– Jim’s LinkedIn
– Understanding Buyer Behavior White Paper
– State of Sales Research