In today’s B2B sales environment, the balance of power has shifted from the vendor to the buyer. The buyer expects an individualized purchase process and solution that takes into consideration their unique challenges and priorities. But how do you get that initial meeting and then accelerate prospects to each consecutive stage?

Step 1) Understand your buyer personas

Who are your prospects – who are you speaking to? On average, a B2B organization has four different audiences that they target. Further complicating the sales process: the increasing number of stakeholders representing a wider variety of jobs, functions, and geographies. There are at least 7 executives on average involved in a B2B buying decision, and it takes five to six decision-makers to agree for a sale to happen. These complications make it imperative to know who your audience is and how to best tailor the sales process for relevance and value – something that over 40% of sales reps are unable to do effectively.

Of course, it’s important to know prospects’ demographics, psychographics, and geographics, but also to understand their persona and fully comprehend their daily challenges. How can you best help your audience? What problem are you solving? How do you add value? For each persona, you should be able to identify (1) their pain points, (2) what you can teach them, and (3) how your content can help them. Keep in mind that just as the selling space is always changing, as are the needs and expectations of your prospects and customers.

Step 2) Ensure your contact database is actionable

Databases decay naturally because people change jobs or title, companies go out of business, and mergers occur. According to ZoomInfo, each year 30% of people change jobs, 66% of people change title or job function, 43% of people change phone number, and 37% of people change email address. Additionally, the amount of prospect and customer contact data in the average B2B organization doubles every 12 – 18 months, with 25% of those records containing critical data errors. This bad data impacts both the marketing and sales teams.

You will reach decision makers faster with an up-to-date, accurate database. The more information you have in your CRM and the more effort you put into keeping that data up-to-date, the easier and more accurate it will be to segment your audience. You should be able to segment your database by key factors such as persona, industry, job function, and region. What does this mean for you? Increased odds of getting the right message to the right person at the right time. Even if you have the right content and know who the decision maker is, if you have wrong contact information then you will be unable to advance that opportunity.

Step 3) Use messages that resonate

Today’s buyer is busier than ever before. They have projects and priorities that are occupying their time, and they have less availability to focus on sales people and their proposals. The increasing interconnectedness amongst departments also means it can be more challenging and risky for a champion to suggest something new. For a buyer to want to engage with you, they need to understand that what you’re suggesting is more valuable than the other burning priorities that they have going on at the moment.

Sales reps are 5x more likely to get engagement if they are adding value to prospects, but just 20% of sales people are currently seen as valuable by their buyers. Further, data from Corporate Visions shows that 74% of buyers choose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight. What messages are going to resonate with your prospect? For some companies what matters is industry, for others its which role in the organization your prospect holds, for others its where the buyers is in the sales process. It could even be a combination of all of these elements. You should understand what elements influence whether a prospect cares about your message and tune what you say and share to your prospects based on those insights. 

Step 4) Be proactive

Having a great sales conversation isn’t just about waiting for a prospect to raise their hand. More typically, your prospect isn’t aware that a problem even exists or how to solve it. That’s why Challenger and similar methodologies are so important – disrupting the current way of thinking to open opportunities. And once you have engaged prospects, don’t wait for them to ask you for the next step. Guide them through the thought process and business case by proactively providing them with information and supporting data that help them make a better decision.

About the Author

Shelley Cernel is the Senior Marketing Manager for KnowledgeTree.