The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Here are 8 trends in buyer behavior that you'll need to address with your sales activities to be successful in 2019.
80% of the B2B buying process will occur without any human interaction (Gartner). So what are buyers doing if they are not interacting with you or anyone else initially? They’re going online and researching potential solutions to their specific problem. They’re reading reviews of your company and solutions. They’re looking at the LinkedIn profiles of the sales people who are trying to add value first, sell second. What does your LinkedIn profile say about you? Update your profile TODAY. Remove all references to crushing quotas and attendance at President’s Clubs. Replace it with customer success stories and recommendations from customers.
Buyers are 57% through the purchasing process before they engage sales (CEB). What does this mean for sales people? Share content on LinkedIn. I repeat. Share content on LinkedIn. You can influence a buying process by educating potential buyers. Perhaps they don’t even realize that they have an issue that you solve for. Maybe they do but have an incorrect understanding of how your company solves for that issue. You have an opportunity to educate on how your company does and does it better that other vendors. But be warned. You can’t just share a customer story one time on LinkedIn and expect a barrage of inbound leads. Showing up regularly in a potential buyer’s feed on LinkedIn is critical to influence the buying process. Take a blended content approach. Share industry thought leadership that adds value.
90% of decision makers say they never respond to cold outreach (HBR). That means 10% of decision makers will respond. I’m not saying don’t do it. I’m just saying that cold calling is becoming increasingly ineffective and there might be a better way of using your valuable time. And by the way, it’s not about the 10% who do respond. It’s about the 90% that you are impacting negatively from just annoying to infuriating with your continued voicemails and emails. Decision makers are busy. Don’t add to noise to their already busy lives. Differentiate yourself, your approach, your solution and your company. Stand out.
97% of the time cold calling doesn’t work (IBM). Ah. Darn it. Ok. Maybe it might only work 3% of the time. That’s ok. That’s only 97 cold calls you have to make for every 3 people you might get the opportunity to speak with. That’s only 97 people you have pi*sed off out of every 100 with annoying voicemails and emails. That’s a good return on your investment. [English sarcasm].
74% of modern B2B buyers conduct more than half their research online before they speak with a sales person (Forrester). Mmmmm. Interesting. So that reinforces points 1 and 2. What content have you shared on LinkedIn since the start of 2019?
75% of B2B buyers use social media to learn about potential vendors (IDC). Hold the phone. Whaaaaat? B2B buyers are using social media! [again… more English sarcasm]. So what? For those of you selling solutions for more complex business challenges, this one is specifically for you. If your outreach is good enough, a buyer is looking at your LinkedIn profile to see who sent it. What emotional response will they have if any? Will they roll their eyes and think typical sales banging on about smashing targets and ignore your request for a meeting. Or will they read about a human being (i.e. you) with a passion and rich history for helping other buyers, just like them, achieve their goals. Oh, and guess what else they are doing? They are using the power of their LinkedIn networks to ask questions about what it’s like to work with your company, whether or not your solution does what you say it does, and perhaps most importantly, what it’s like to work with you. Are you someone they should trust?
Buyers who use social media have larger budgets – typically 84% larger than the budgets of buyers who do not use social media (IDC). Why? Likely because they are seen by their peers and senior leadership as forward thinking. Perhaps because they have made shrewd investments previously (see 6). Does it matter why really? They have bigger budgets!
Social sellers realize a 66% greater quota attainment that those using traditional prospecting techniques (Sales Benchmark Index). I rest my case. Why? Social media as a channel, and social selling as a sales activity allows you to learn social insights about an individual, influence a purchasing process with content, and engage in a human way through relationships. Social sellers realize a greater quota attainment because they are slowing down to speed up. They are thoughtfully selecting the right people at target companies and engaging in ways that are directly aligned to how buyers want to be engaged, adding value at every touch point.
That’s a wrap!
As sales professionals, we must align our sales activities to the changing expectations of our customers and potential customers. If you align to how they want to be sold to on channels in which they are active, you will likely experience a very successful 2019.