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B2B selling is changing.
To begin to understand how and why the nature of B2B sales is changing, we must first look at the B2B seller as they are now.
B2B selling has followed the same key principles and techniques for a long time. When you think of the typical B2B seller, you probably think of someone rather like The Office’s David Brent - someone stuck in their ways, accustomed to following a certain sales process and not exactly at the forefront of digital advancement.
But that stereotype of a typical B2B seller is dying. So why is the typical B2B seller no longer good enough?
There are a few key characteristics that define the ‘traditional B2B seller’.
These are focused around selling techniques that have worked well in the past, and have been relied upon by sellers for a long time.
They rely upon a large amount of contact time with the buyer in order to get information across.
The traditional seller will often spend a lot of time on the road, traveling to meet with customers.
They often rely heavily on outdated methods of contact such as cold-calling to make an initial connection with leads - the more calls they make, the more leads they get (in theory).
By selling face to face, they also only rely on their persuasive skills to close the sale.
Their focus is firmly on communicating product information, services and features to the customer. They don’t pay as much attention to the needs of the customer and their business - and may focus on what they can offer you, rather than what you need.
The typical B2B seller is usually working towards personal sales targets. This kind of approach means that a seller can be so busy trying to close the deal to get their paycheck, they forget to actually be helpful to the customer.
Because of the reasons above, amongst others, the traditional B2B seller often lacks the trust of the customer.
Because of the history of the traditional salesperson, B2B buyers have become skeptical and unsure over time.
Customers do not see B2B sellers as a reliable source of information. They may also be cautious of receiving wrong or exaggerated information from the seller, leading them to feel that the seller isn’t on their side.
So what is happening to the traditional B2B seller? Surely sellers using such tried and tested techniques can’t be dying out. After all, B2B selling has followed the same basic formula and used the same basic methods for many years. Not only that, but they’ve been used to great success.
Why is the stereotypical B2B seller dying out?
The traditional tactics simply don’t work like they used to. While the B2B seller hasn’t changed, the buyer definitely has.
The buyer is more skeptical, better informed and more empowered than ever before.
Tactics such as cold calling don’t have the same impact that they used to. According to Hubspot, only 1% of cold calls even lead to appointments (never mind sales!).
Not only that, but outdated selling techniques aren’t suitable for a digital world. Social media, content, email and Google now all impact the buying process, meaning sellers need to be willing to make contact at multiple touch points.
Many B2B sellers still rely on outdated techniques, have a poor relationship with customers and don't solve the business challenges of their prospective clients. What has been a long established formula for successful sales is now becoming outdated. David Brent is definitely dying out.
So if David Brent is dying out, who or what should replace him?
It’s undoubtable that there is a need for sellers to adapt, if your business is to evolve and flourish in the modern, digital B2B world. In order to do this, your B2B business needs an understanding of how the buyer is changing.
The B2B buyer is undergoing a digital transformation, and that’s what we’re excited about exploring here at Statement.