The way of getting to the heart of customers has changed. But many businesses are still playing catch-up.
It’s silly to think that B2B purchasers, since it’s a different industry to B2C, are completely different people.
If anything, B2B industries should be looking at consumer services like Uber, Amazon, and Spotify and thinking how they could offer personalized and value-based approaches too.
In the end, last time I checked, both industries are still operated by people.
The landscape has changed, and B2B buyers want things differently. With this in mind, we have gathered together some of the most common actions still taken within a B2B industry, and also make some recommendations about what businesses can do instead to attract more buyers.
What they get: A cold call every quarter
When was the last time you picked up a cold-call and thought? ‘Oh goody, I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.’
My prediction is never.
I feel the same way, and this is someone who actually appreciates good salesmanship.
But cold callers are constantly turned away.
In fact, a survey by InsideView found that more than 90% of C-level executives said they ‘never’ respond to cold calls or e-mail blasts.
What they want: No contact until they’ve completed their initial research
Instead, buyers are looking to do the research themselves, and will only pay attention if the right product is offered in the right place at the right time.
Inbound and sales enablement has flipped the whole buyer journey on its head, by bringing in interested prospects through smart marketing and helpful selling. And there is a demand for it too, with 96% of B2B buyers craving more content from industry thought leaders.
What they get: A quarterly newsletter with company ideas
Does anyone really care that they’re announcing Gary as the new head of sales? That Jill completed her first triathlon? That it’s Daisy’s birthday this week?
Many company news sections and blogs are self-centred if you look within the B2B industry.
It’s time businesses started addressing the pains of their buyers to grow traffic and demonstrate thought-leadership.
What they want: Notification of a blog post that addresses their pain points
There’s nothing better than receiving a useful blog or ebook within your inbox, just as you need the information the most.
I don’t just appreciate that as a marketer - buyers are interested in a personal approach too.
For example, Experian reported their findings when personalizing their email subject lines and email content, and found that it yielded six times higher transaction rates.
What they get: Pushy chase-up emails and calls
There’s nothing worse then receiving unhelpful chase up emails, calls, and Linkedin messages - especially if you’ve only downloaded or engaged with a brand at the very top of the funnel.
Sure, salespeople can filter those who are truly interested from those who aren’t early on, but you’re also liable to irritate whoever may eventually be interested in your service.
Make sure your follow-ups are helpful, useful, and personalized to your contact.
What they want: Content that assists each stage of the buyer’s journey
Not every piece of content you write and send to a prospect should be the same.
For example, for those who have expressed a keen interest in your business already, it may be best to send them a case study pack or brochure, rather than moving them backwards through the journey with a tip-sheet or checklist.
47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep, so ensure you have the right content in place for a strong follow-up.
What they get: Rehearsed pitches about a product or service
Freezing cold emails, without any build-up or dialogue, are really just a scatter-gun approach mostly dependant on the luck of the draw.
Here’s what Databox CEO Peter Caputa said about when a salesperson went from warm to cold, and the effect it had on him as a buyer:
‘I received a wonderfully written and researched note from a salesperson the other day. He really dug in. He found multiple commonalities. It was really very thoughtful. But, then at the end, he asked me when I could get on a call with him to discuss their solution. That’s where he went wrong…’
What they want: Discussions about their most pressing needs and business problems
Continuing on from Caputa’s response, he said: ‘It wasn’t a priority for me to invest in a solution like his right now. If he had slowed down and just asked me a question, he could have gotten a dialogue going, learned more about me, maybe even found a reason to have a conversation down the line.’
Salespeople should be able to tell who will be more a more immediate buyer, and who warrants a conversation later down the line.
A helpful attitude will help you understand if the buyer is a good fit, and also will open up a trustful, two-way conversation.
What they get: An ‘always be closing’ approach
The sales landscape is driven by speed. ‘Always be closing’ is still a mantra that is rife within the industry.
But prospects can smell this a mile away. The buyer’s journey now is about their goals, not yours.
What they want: An ‘always be helping’ approach
With Salesforce data claiming that 65% of business buyers say they’d switch brands if a company didn’t make efforts to personalise their communications, more and more businesses are adopting the mantra ‘always be helping’ rather than ‘always be closing’.
What are best practices for a B2B Sales approach?
- No contact until they’ve completed their initial research
- Notification of a blog post that addresses their pain points
- Content that assists each stage of the buyer’s journey
- Discussions about their most pressing needs and business problems
- An ‘always be helping’ approach