September 14th, 2017 | by

Spoiler alert: The statistics you’re about to read are not very encouraging. When we commissioned a study that asked 270 B2B buyers about their feelings on salespeople, the response revealed … shall we say, room for improvement.

That’s because, in part, technology has changed the role of the salesperson, and a lot of sales professionals haven’t yet changed along with it.

Exhibit A: The internet. Assume buyers use it. Furthermore, assume that they use it at least as much as you do – to research options, product features and specs, and, yes, product and business reviews.

With technology taking on the role of Information Provider, the role of the B2B salesperson must become a Customizer of Experience. Whether it’s mitigating risk in the purchase process, helping the buyer make the business case for the sale, or working within the buyer’s limitations of time and resources – solving a problem is about a whole lot more than finding the right widget.

Get the entire free study: 30 Ways to Get Inside the Mind of Your Target Buyer

1. Sell B2B features, NOT benefits.

Our study found just 54% of salespeople can explain the positive impact and benefits of their solution.

This statistic, at first glance, doesn’t seem bad – after all, 54% is over half of all salespeople – until you consider that “clearly explaining how their solution positively impacts a customer’s business” is THEIR #1 JOB.

Buyers don’t just seek information to aid a strategic decision; they amass information that helps them justify their preconceived ideas of strategic value. In other words, your product’s strategic value comprises the reasons and arguments buyers give to senior management and others in the company as to why the product should be purchased.

There are seven types of strategic value, enabling customers to:

  1. Gain a competitive advantage
  2. Increase revenue
  3. Decrease costs
  4. Increase productivity and efficiency, and reduce risk
  5. Improve customer satisfaction
  6. Improve quality
  7. Standardize operations

Buyers say just over half of salespeople they meet with can clearly explain how their solution impacts the business.

Emphasis on “the customer’s business”: Not “the customer’s industry,” or “an approximate average of the customer and 100 of their competitors.” How does your product or service benefit that particular customer?

Most salespeople can't explain benefitThis disconnect strikes at the heart of account-based sales development (ABSD). The hyper-personalized approach requires the salesperson to understand the unique needs of the business, but also the personal position of the prospect, who is themselves beholden to a quota or goal.

What keeps your key prospect up at night? And how can you help move them closer to the goal, personally and as a business?

Chances are, the answer to this question isn’t a bell, whistle, or product feature. It’s probably a solution that delivers tangible business results.

2. DON’T focus more on their agenda than yours.

Why don’t they buy? Our study found buyers sense the salesperson’s agenda to make the B2B sale and feel pressured.

Study participants were asked to choose the primary reason they don’t like meeting with salespeople. Their answers reveal they feel pressured because salespeople are self-centered.

In addition, buyers are uncomfortable because it is ingrained within every salesperson to ask for the business at the end of a sales call – and buyers don’t enjoy saying no.

Salespeople have a unique chance to start relationships with exceptional people who will become customers, and sometimes, friends. They have a set of abilities to accomplish this worthy goal; sometimes, a new attitude and demonstration of concern is required to open salespeople to the possibility of authentic relationships.

Instead of focusing solely on revenue, concentrate more on helping others accomplish their goals.

Even after decades on the job, a lot of people still find it hard to say no.

While there are strong opinions on the virtues of hard vs. soft selling, there’s a clear benefit to some soft-selling techniques such as storytelling, building rapport, and adding value.

First, of course, the salesperson has to discover what those goals actually are.

Get Part 1 of our study: Why Didn’t They Buy?

3. Give the same canned sales pitch to everyone

Buyers in our study say most salespeople give a canned sales pitch and don’t listen to their requirements.

salesperson pressure

Communication challenges and language-based deficiencies are the most frequent shortcomings cited by buyers when they meet with salespeople.

The conversations salespeople have with buyers are quite complex. They consist of verbal and nonverbal messages sent consciously and subconsciously. Successful customer communication is the foundation of all sales.

However, since salespeople talk all the time, they underestimate the complexity of communication and take the process for granted. As a result, they tend to repeat the same pitch to every prospect.

Is it any wonder most buyers are skeptical of salespeople? They know they’re just a name on a list. A keen ear and quick eye, along with a willingness to explore non-verbal cues – avoiding eye contact, hesitancy, and body language – go a long way to identify the real issues at play.

These are three insights from our comprehensive study of the B2B buyer persona, 30 Ways to Get Inside the Mind of Your Target Buyer.


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Charity Heller
About the author

Charity Heller

Content Strategist, DiscoverOrg

Charity Heller, DiscoverOrg's content strategy manager, has been developing, composing, and editing content since age 2. Before her dive into content marketing, she founded and operated a book-editing company for 10 years. Charity has a B.A. in English literature, Professional Editing Certification from U.C. Berkeley, and she's a certified Project Manager.