Jane Gentry uses her past experiences working with Fortune 500 clients to help mid-market companies solve key sales issues. She speaks worldwide on topics such as sales growth and leadership. Her clients include companies in the manufacturing, medical, professional services, and technology sectors. You can connect with Jane @janegentry or through her email address, firstname.lastname@example.org
Not very long ago, CEB ran a study on 1,400 B2B customers and their buying habits. They found that buyers made an average 57% of their purchase decisions before once meeting with their buyers. So what does that mean for sellers who still subscribe themselves to the old sales funnel approaches? It means these approaches are no longer valid. Clients are already well to far along their buying processes by the time they reach the bargaining table. That's why I recommend these four changes to the sales funnel.
1. Reimagine Your Ideal Customer
Historically, the best sales practices have involved segmenting customers based on who they are, what they need, and how you're a good fit. It's got all the makings of a solid plan. But today’s rainmakers don't wait for their customers to figure out that they have a need. Instead, they look through two channels to determine who goes into their pipeline.
Today’s best sellers are also trend junkies. They look for industries and markets currently in flux. Companies know they need to change with the times, but they're not always clear what the right change looks like. This gives sellers the opportunity to help craft a problem statement. Sellers also know to avoid behemoth organizations with too much bureaucracy and too many stakeholders to make a change. They look for companies with streamlined decision-making processes that can make quick decisions and stay competitive.
Effective sellers target individuals who are change agents (those with enough clout to mobilize new ideas) within their respective organizations. These people are often the ones who push back the most on innovative ideas, not because they disagree but rather because they want to test their merits. Unfortunately, it’s this push-back that deflates some sellers enough to give up. Rainmakers, on the other hand, see this as an opportunity to engage prospects on insights and concepts.
2. Engage Earlier
A study from Forrester found that upwards of 74% of buyers chose the agents who defined their buying solutions. Sellers who help clients define their buying visions can bias their solutions before traditional sales cycles even begin. They're able to urge prospects away from their status quos while also drawing them away from competitors.
3. Determine the Value of Change
Star sellers deliver insight over solutions. They show customers why they're in danger if they don't change and what it will take to get back on steady ground. Of course, sellers should also position themselves to offer a solution. For more insight on this, check out almost anything by Tim Riesterer at Corporate Visions.
4, Coach your Customer on How to Buy
In most corporate innovation groups, there are processes designed to help overcome internal objections to disruptive ideas. Star sellers think like innovators. They realize that they generally have a better idea than clients on how to overcome hurdles. They look through the lens of the client’s buying process. They consider what the customer must do next and how they can help make that happen. So, rather than use tools and processes designed to make sales, star sellers help buyers overcome their hurdles. Today’s star sellers know when to jettison strategies that no longer work. They learn from past mistakes. And they don’t let those mistakes hold them back. These rainmakers don't shy from risks. They see the prospecting funnel and know which old ways are obsolete. Customers aren’t buying the way they used to. Perhaps it’s time we stopped prospecting as if they are.
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Jane Gentry uses her past experiences working with Fortune 500 clients to help mid-market companies solve key sales. She speaks worldwide on topics such as sales growth and leadership. Her clients include companies in manufacturing, medical, professional services, and technology. You can connect with Jane @janegentry or through her email address, email@example.com