Commentary

Buyers Hold Back From Their Salesmen

According to a new report, close to verbatim from CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, “ more than 70% of B2B buyers fully define their needs before engaging with a sales representative, and almost half identify specific solutions before reaching out.

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Results of the “2018 Buyer Preferences Study", based on a global survey of 500 decision-makers, finds that most buyers wait to contact sellers until late in the sales process. In addition, just 23% of B2B buyers view sellers as a top resource for solving business problems, only 32% say sales reps exceed their expectations, and 68% see little to no difference between vendors.

Seleste Lunsford, Managing Director of CSO Insights, says “…as the consumer shopping experience moves to a model that cuts out salespeople, B2B sellers must adjust by bringing insights and expertise into the sales process, Sales reps today must add value beyond simply facilitating transactions, or they run the risk of being replaced by technology.”

The report finds that buyers still want to engage with sales reps under the right circumstances. 65% of B2B buyers find value in discussing their needs with salespeople, and only 3% want to make all their purchases online and never work with sellers again.

In addition, 90% of buyers are open to engaging sellers earlier in the buying process, especially when facing a new, risky or complex situation. The report also notes that buyers favor sales resources:

  • Who demonstrate high levels of customer knowledge
  • Leverage superior communications skills 
  • Present a results-orientation
  • Educate buyers with perspective

While none of these register as new buyer requirements, CSO Insights’ annual studies of sales organizations show that few consistently excel at these competencies. “Unfortunately, sales organizations continue to fall short,” Lunsford said. “The ability to provide buyers with perspective offers the most promise for differentiation. Sellers must bring ideas, shape vision and make customers aware of solutions they hadn’t considered. There are no short-cuts says the report. 

The 2018 Buyer Preferences Study is based on a global survey of 500 B2B decision-makers responsible for making purchases greater than $10,000 at companies with revenue of $250 million or more. Respondents represented 25 industries and a range of functions, including IT, accounting, operations, product, marketing, purchasing and HR.” 

 

 

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