Did you know, among the information sources B2B tech buyers used in 2021, sales reps ranked fourth — after product demos, company websites, and user review platforms?
As Senior Director of Sales at Drift, it stings to know that sales reps aren’t the most trusted source of information for buyers. That’s our job, after all.
But sales reps are having an increasingly hard time getting in front of buyers. According to TrustRadius, 87% of buyers prefer a partly or fully self-serve buying model, and 57% already make buying decisions without any input from a sales rep.
Salespeople can’t just sell anymore. If we want to become a better source of information for buyers, we have to become their trusted advisors.
I joined Becc Holland, CEO and Founder of Flip the Script, on a webinar hosted by Salesloft, to discuss how sales reps can do just that.
If you want to watch the full recording of the webinar, click here. Otherwise, keep reading for all the insights 💡
Why Your Buyers Don’t Trust Your Sales Team
Before I dive into recommendations, we have to get to the root of the problem: Why don’t buyers trust sales?
And to be honest…we kind of created the problem ourselves.
Salespeople have built a reputation that we’re going to take up a lot of your time without offering much in return. We’ve created a world where sales is all about volume, zooming onto the next opportunity rather than treating each engagement with the care it deserves.
Often, that results in conversations that are seller-centric. In fact, sales reps sometimes end up going into demos without knowing anything about the buyer’s specific needs. And, as Becc explains, that is completely backward.
You should be discovering something that you didn’t know about the person in the room beforehand that you can’t move forward without. So, unless you are diagnosing a problem…all you’re really doing is…making the buyer want to buy more based on an emotional response.
Buyers are all too aware of the tactics that salespeople use to get them to buy. But what they actually want is someone who will put their interests first and recommend the solution that works best for them.
So, if you want to get buyers to keep talking to you, the bottom line is to make sure you are creating value for the buyer every step of the way.
4 Ways You Can Embrace a Value-Creation Mindset
Purchasing can be a full-time job, which is why you have to go at the buyer’s pace.
And the best way to do that is to adopt a value-creation mindset. That means, as a sales rep, your goal should be to make sure the buyer walks away from every interaction knowing something they could not have found out on their own.
Here’s what this looks like in action:
1. Be an Expert…in Your Buyer
The first step to creating value for your buyer is knowing who the buyer is. That means doing some pre-call research into the company.
Take the time to figure out what the company does, the products or services they offer, and common issues that people in their industry face. As Becc puts it, you should know enough about the buyer to hold your weight with them.
You have to have a level of expertise that you can add value to the person in the room — that they thought about something in a different way, you identified a condition that they didn’t know that they have, you identified some kind of root cause to it.
But research isn’t enough to cover everything.
So, instead of rushing through a list of questions like on an intake form, use that first discovery call to really get to know the buyer. Talk to them about the projects they are working on, what their day-to-day is like, and the specific challenges and goals they have.
That is how you will truly be able to build trust and encourage them to spend more time with you.
2. Take a Consultative Approach (Don’t Do a Sales Pitch)
Notice how I haven’t said anything about your product yet?
That’s because it’s your job to connect the dots — to tie your buyer’s pain points to your solution. And that boils down to having a genuine, helpful conversation.
Every buyer is different, and they all have different needs. By being an attentive and empathetic listener, you can educate buyers on issues they might be facing while providing personalized and relevant recommendations.
Don’t forget: 88% of buyers are only willing to buy from sales reps who they consider trusted advisors.
In short, most buyers will not buy from you if you spend all your time talking about products or discussing features — because what buyers actually want is a solution to a problem.
So, the important thing is to contextualize your conversation to that specific buyer’s needs and tie your product back to their goals and challenges…which leads me to my next point 👇
3. Don’t Just Contextualize. Hyper-Contextualize
Buying in the B2B world is complicated (to say the least). It’s a long sales process that typically involves six to 10 decision-makers, each with their own interests and doubts.
So, you can’t sell to someone in the C-suite the same way you would to an individual user. And the same goes for say, someone in procurement vs. someone in sales.
Instead, of just contextualizing by company, hyper-contextualize by persona. Think about how your solution will alleviate that individual’s pains and help them hit their specific goals.
Becc’s advice? Do your homework.
I’m going to do what I have to do to figure out exactly who this person is. So, when I get that one shot, I have the best-case scenario of talking about something that really matters with them because of the homework that I’ve done.
At Drift, we like to train our sales reps to do this through practice runs, where we’ll act out a call as a buying persona from a specific industry. This helps reps think about how to adjust their dialog to fit the person they’re talking to. And over time, you’ll see your sales reps become better and better consultants for your buyers.
4. Get Out of the Buyer’s Way
When it comes to creating value for your buyer, the biggest question you have to ask yourself is this: Is there a good reason for the buyer to be having this next interaction with me?
If the answer is no, then get out of their way.
Remember: 87% of buyers want to self-serve their buying journey. They don’t want to spend days waiting to hear from you only to end up on a call that fails to address their needs.
Don’t just default to calls all the time. Aim to have the right conversation, in the right place, at the right time by focusing on the buyers who show the highest intent.
Otherwise, give your buyers the power to interact with you on their terms. Leverage your content, video, chatbots, and other digital means to get information in front of your buyers. Becc even suggests putting a demo on your website:
Get them to fall in love with your product. … If [sales reps] aren’t prescribing based on what they heard, something very specific, then why wouldn’t I just speed up the buyer’s journey and let people research how they want to research?
Meet the buyer where they are — and be present when they want you to be present. So, when you do hop onto a call, the conversation will be that much more valuable.
Modern Selling is Buyer-Centric, Not Seller-Centric
Let’s face it. Your buyers don’t talk to sales reps to learn about your product. They do that elsewhere.
But where your sellers can really shine is being a consultant for your buyer. So, it’s high time you put your buyer at the center of your sales process — putting their goals before your own. And by offering a personalized, one-on-one experience, you can ensure you’re creating real value for your buyers in every conversation.