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Wouldn’t it be nice if business-to-business (B2B) buyers sent out an announcement that their needs are shifting? It wouldn’t be hard to respond to buyers’ needs with this kind of notice, but that is not reality. The impetus is still on you as a sales professional to uncover your prospects’ needs. However, it can be helpful to have insight straight from mouth of B2B buyers regarding why they choose to buy from one provider and not another and compare how these needs change over time.

Give your company an edge by focusing on the top needs of buyers. Below are the top four requirements B2B buyers value, according to the 2015 AskForensics Sales Analysis, which is an evaluation of more than $2 billion worth of B2B enterprise accounts.

1) Service Quality

Service quality is listed as a top priority by 25 percent of B2B buyers in 2014 so it is a need worth attention. Service quality was also a pronounced need in 2013, cited by 18 percent of buyers. Service quality boils down to how well a provider is able to help a client improve their performance. Prospects are looking for hard evidence that your company’s level of service quality is capable of providing strong operations and results. When it comes to service quality, buyers are most concerned about a provider’s ability to deliver timely service so pay close attention to demonstrating how your company provides accountability for on-time service.

2) Program Management

Approximately 22 percent of B2B buyers cited a provider’s program management capabilities as a major contributing factor to their final purchase decision, up from 16 percent in 2013. Program management entails the overall supervision of services, most often provided by the customer-facing team. However, buyers also reveal that they also want program management to include providers proactively recommending innovative ideas. In other words, buyers want continuous innovation from you as the provider to improve their overall total performance and bottom line.

3) Financial Performance

Financial performance experienced a significant drop from 42 percent in 2013 to only 16 percent in 2014. Although not as much of a priority as it has been in the past, financial performance is still a top requirement for B2B buyers. Financial performance encompasses an overall financial model that provides competitive pricing, helps the client achieve competitive operating costs, and improves the client’s profits. Financial performance in 2013 primarily encompassed providers helping companies decrease their operating expenses, while financial performance in 2014 was needed more for scaling the scope of services to meet buyers’ specific requirements. In both instances financial performance is not about low price; it is about improving a customer’s total effectiveness and financial results.

4) Account Support

A provider’s account support capabilities are cited as an influential deciding factor for buyers. In fact, account support increased in importance from 6 percent in 2013 to 15 percent in 2014. Account support encompasses the total support from the service provider’s sales and account teams. Both teams are expected to identify and address needs the buyer is articulating, as well as hidden, subtle or emerging needs. These teams then must be able to proactively offer recommendations that address the heart of the issues the prospect is facing and offer partner-level support. In 2014 buyers most valued providers who were best able to offer account support in the form of providing best practices, proactive recommendations, and partner-level support.

And there you have it—buyer requirements straight from the mouth of B2B buyers of enterprise companies. While this list is not a replacement for uncovering the unique needs of your prospect, you can gain an edge by keeping these four buyer needs top of mind during your next sales interaction.

About the Author

Rick Reynolds is a co-founding partner and CEO of AskForensics, which helps Fortune-ranked companies win more deals and strengthen multi-million dollar accounts. AskForensics is the publisher of the annual AskForensics Sales Analysis, which provides real-world statistical insight on why enterprise companies win or lose sales and accounts. Follow Rick on Twitter: @AskForensics.

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