Buyers only spend 5% of their time with you during their purchase decision - how do you make the best use of this time?
The new buyer behavior is economical with shared time. Complex purchasing decisions are discussed much more internally and up to 12 web searches are carried out before a potential sales consultant is contacted. According to the Gartner study from 2021, the buyer (assuming they speak to 3 potential sales advisors) only spends 5% of their total buying time on this personal exchange.
What does this mean for sales consultants? How can this valuable time be used in the best possible way so that you become the favorite supplier?
The following elements of success must be taken into account:
1) Fast pre-qualification: “First Come – First Serve” applies here: the fastest person to make initial contact with a customer inquiry has eight times the chance of discussing the solutions with the “decision-maker”. These are the most valuable minutes of all! Create a guideline for efficient pre-qualification and set it up in your organization so that the interested party is guaranteed to be contacted and pre-qualified within 4 hours. In the meantime, automation can also be used for pre-qualification with a high number of inbound leads. However, it is still the case in the B2B environment that the classic immediate contact by telephone is the best approach, as it allows you to convey initial “personality” in both directions. An automated questionnaire or email cannot do this. Guideline structure aids are available via the BANT method: Budget, Authority, Need, Time.
Among other things, these 4 elements should be asked in a friendly and friendly manner in the guide and provide valuable preliminary information for scheduling an appointment with the sales force. The most important pre-qualification objective is the scheduling of appointments, whereby the virtual tools for the first meeting provide good productivity in terms of speed. Furthermore, a good pre-qualification guideline contains objection arguments so that the appointment is set with a high hit rate.
2) Professional preparation of possible pains/gains of the buyer persona: It is crucial for the new buyer behavior that you use the short time in a highly productive manner. Preparing the right arguments is the be-all and end-all of success. The faster the buyer recognizes that the sales consultant has adapted to their situation and challenge and proposes perfect value-added solutions, the faster trust will increase.
3) Clear structure of the conversation: From the opening to the next steps, there should be a clearly recognizable move towards the goal. The methodical approach of a needs analysis with SPIN, OPAL or the 6-block diagnosis trains and deepens these skills. In line with the preparation, conducting the short dialog is essential for success. The application of various tried and tested methods of needs analysis, questioning techniques and the creation of buying visions for the buyer must be practiced and reflected on again and again. After all, as soon as you enter into a needs analysis dialog with the new buyer, you need to find a solution within a maximum of 30 minutes. If this does not happen, the buyer will lose interest in you.
4) Battle Cards – Analytical demonstration of added value for a solution: Product sales seem old-fashioned and the buyer perceives this as a waste of time, as a lot of information has already been sufficiently absorbed via internet research. Buyers research the Internet 12 times in advance before making initial contact with a potential supply partner. With this research, they inform themselves independently about a product or service in advance.
Be well prepared how to package your USP’s into visible added value as part of your solution. Methods and tools from the well-known solution selling system, such as the differentiation matrix, pain-value tables and 6-block diagnostics, can make a significant contribution to this.
5) Recognize which buying phase the buyer is in: During pre-qualification as well as the initial meeting, it must be quickly diagnosed whether a buyer is in an early or already very late buying phase. To what extent has the buyer already considered a solution themselves? The way in which you position your solution in the conversation will largely determine your approach. Above all, you can recognize very quickly from the buying phase which opportunities are worth continuing with the appropriate effort or disqualifying some of them quickly enough. Think of a poker game: there are 2 winners in a poker game, just like in sales.
The 1st winner is the one who cracks the pot or receives the order. The 2nd winner is the one who gets out first in time. Sometimes this is also the second-best alternative in sales to avoid wasting valuable resources on the wrong opportunities. Let your competitors be “cannon fodder” for the buyers in this time-intensive environment.
6) Check decision maker characteristics: Use the right questions at the right time to identify decision maker characteristics and other stakeholders in the buying process. Whereas in 2008 an average of 2.3 people were involved on the buyer side in complex B2B purchasing decisions, this figure has now risen to 7.2! This exponential increase in complexity in sales is known as “buyer paralysis”. The decisive factor in the procedure is to consciously and actively accompany these decision-maker structures and risk considerations on the buyer’s side.
7) Create clear next steps with the “decision-maker” using a corresponding timeline that covers all activities of the “decision-maker” with you, even up to a mental implementation/delivery. Consider the decision-maker’s thoughts on what they still need to advance internally, who they need externally, what information they still need from you in order to decide in your favor.
What significance does “relationship selling” still have? Does it have an expiration date or is it already outdated?
What do you think?
How do you manage the precious and scarce time with your customers? We look forward to a lively discussion with you!