By Rieva Lesonsky
If you own a B2B business, you’ve probably noticed that making the sale is getting more difficult. That’s partly because more B2B sales now involve multiple buyers. Businesses are taking a more collaborative approach to how they purchase products and services. As a result, almost 50 percent of B2B businesses in Demand Gen Report’s 2016 B2B Buyer’s Survey say the companies they sell to have more people involved in the buying process than ever before.
Unfortunately, the more decision-makers you have to deal with, the lower your chance of making the sale. How can you deal with the challenges of selling to multiple buyers? Follow these steps.
Do your homework. Use social media, online research and real-world connections to get as much intelligence as you can about the individuals involved in the buying process at each company. The more you can find out about each individual’s demographics (age, seniority, job title) and psychology (pain points, goals, attitudes), the better you’ll understand what matters most to them, both during the sales process and in terms of the actual product or service. Also be sure you clearly understand each individual’s role in the decision-making process and what he or she needs to do to convince others. Does one person have the final say, or is this truly a collaborative decision?
Prepare your materials. B2B buyers now do much of their initial research online, without ever consulting a salesperson. That’s why it’s important to create content tailored to each type of buyer and each stage of the decision-making process. Employees in different roles will seek different information — for example, a CFO will be most concerned about cost, while a CIO will care more about technology. In addition, each person has preferences for the way they consume information. Older buyers may want white papers they can print out and read at leisure, while younger buyers may prefer videos.
Provide additional insights. With so much information available, buyers can easily become overwhelmed. Once buyers actually make contact with your business, provide guidance by helping them pinpoint what is important to them and suggesting solutions. Know what the most common objections are likely to be and be prepared with responses. Showing that you have a firm grasp of their industry, their competition and the needs of their business will position you as a valuable ally, not just someone with something to sell.
Focus on the influencers. Even within a collaborative group of buyers, some carry more weight than others. Determine the most influential buyers in the group, and work to help them make the case for buying your product or service to the rest of the team. In particular, be prepared with case studies about businesses similar to theirs who have successfully chosen your product or service, as well as specific demonstrations of ROI, which is a huge focus for B2B buyers today.
Think beyond the sale. Today’s B2B buyers are looking beyond actually making the purchase. Before they buy, they want to be confident that your business will be there for them after the sale. How easily can they integrate your product or service into their business operations? What type of support do you provide? What happens if there are hiccups along the way? Be ready to prove to each of the multiple buyers how you will work with their department to ensure they succeed long after they’ve signed the contract.