You might believe B2B buyers don’t want to interact with your sales team until later in their decision process. The availability and ease that comes with internet research has created a more self-driven buying process these days, right?
But new research indicates otherwise. It turns out, there’s a very real opportunity for your sales team to make a huge impact during the early buying stages. Read on to learn more about these new findings and how you can use this information to impact sales for your business.
Senior Level B2B Buyers are Engaging Earlier
A survey from Demand Gen Report has revealed that your sales team should be engaging B2B buyers earlier in their decision process. The survey interviewed more than 250 senior-level B2B executives and released these key findings:
- Within their first month of research, 42% interacted with an agent from the company they chose to be their service/product vendor - up from 33% in 2018
- 33% accepted calls and product demonstrations from vendors in the first month - up from 23% in 2018
- Also during their first month of research, 25% requested RFPs, competitive bids, and/or pricing for comparison - up from 20% in 2018
Clearly, the demand for earlier contact with sales is on the rise in the B2B buyer’s journey. This is great news for organizations with lengthy sales cycles. Not only can you assert your presence earlier on, but by doing so you’re likely to significantly reduce the length of your sales cycle!
Another report from Aberdeen found 73% of B2B buyers reach out to vendors early in their decision process. However, this same study revealed some disconcerting news - a high number of B2B buyers halt or postpone their purchase decisions.
It seems B2B buyers are having difficulty finding solutions which fully meet their needs. Similarly, they’re pausing their decisions due to lack of a standout product. So, how can you help decision makers overcome their hold-ups?
How to Ramp Up the B2B Buyer’s Journey
So now you’ve learned that engaging with B2B buyers within the first few weeks of their journey provides a critical competitive advantage. But how do you ensure you keep the momentum flowing and optimize your opportunity to make a sale?
Check out these four techniques:
1. Don’t Be Pushy
Yes. B2B buyers are open to conversations earlier on. That doesn’t mean they want to be bombarded by sales and promotions. Keep in mind, your prospects are still researching. They’re gathering the information they need to make a decision. Be helpful in that process – listen, ask questions, try to understand your buyers’ unique situations. These steps are crucial to building a lasting connection.
2. Aim for High ValueSometimes your leads simply aren’t the right match for your particular product or service. Your sales team could waste a lot of time and resources trying to pursue a quantity of leads and forget about the quality of those leads. Properly identify the sales opportunities that make sense for your solution. If you use your data and focus on the highest-value leads, those early interactions will prove more fruitful.
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3. Be Quick to Respond
In this day of instant everything, buyers expect rapid response times. Think about ways your sales team can accommodate the increasing need to be responsive fast. Tools like web chat applications, instant messaging, and BYOD are some ways you can make your team available to B2B buyers on their terms.
4. Content is King
You’ve heard it before. You’ll likely hear it again. Delivering the right content to your buyers is of the utmost importance. During the earlier stages of a buyer’s journey, more general and objective information is needed to help them understand all their options. Work with marketing to build content aligned with each stage of your sales cycle.
Is it Time for an Upgrade?
Of course, there are still plenty of B2B buyers and decision makers who want to handle the bulk of their vendor research on their own. These buyers are more likely to wait until the final stages of their journey before inviting your sales team into their process. But don’t forget about the stats - an increasing number of buyers want to consult with your team early on. It may be time to upgrade your sales strategy to account for this.