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How has corporate buying behavior evolved and changed?



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When I was a kid, to get “stuff” in our house -- clothing, household goods, you name it -- we had to physically go to the store and shop for it. There was no comparison shopping or reading reviews. What was on the shelf was what you got, and it was good enough.

Years later, we’d shop from the Sears catalog. Revolutionary! From the comfort of our home, we could select what we wanted, fill out a mail-order form, and bam! 6-8 weeks later we’d have our items.

Some years later, we’d place the order in-store, maybe even putting some items on layaway.

By the late ‘90s, we were watching QVC push everything from vacuum cleaners to wrinkle cream, trusting a televised host to accurately describe and use products so we could be certain about their reliability. Sometimes, there would be celebrities to increase buyer confidence.

Fast-forward to today. Shopping involves tons of online research and, increasingly, very little (if any) time in an actual store. I often joke that I spend far more time “hemming and hawing” over products on Amazon than I ever do using the products I actually select. Somehow, we manage to have far more “stuff” in our house than I ever did as a kid.

Certainly, you recognize some of these trends. As the world shifted and technology increased, our buying behaviors shifted right along with them.

The same can be said for corporate buying behavior.

If you’ve been in sales long enough, you might remember relationships with prospects built over a few fancy expensed lunch meetings or a round or two of golf -- such a far cry from where we are now.

The world around us changes constantly, and it’s changing now more than ever. Savvy sellers recognize it, accept it, and adapt to the changes to meet buyers where they are. They don’t long for the good old days. They change their strategies to adjust to the “new normal”.

Do you?

Let’s explore how corporate buying has changed and, more importantly, how you can adjust your sails to meet the needs of corporate buyers.


1. How has buying behavior changed since the introduction of the internet?


Just as we research products and services online for our personal use, buyers research sellers, too. Today’s prospects come to the table with far more knowledge of us and our competitors than ever before. Google searches reveal a tremendous amount and so do social media connections.


2. What is the process that corporate decision-makers use today to make a decision?


Prospects come “knowing us” through the internet, particularly social media (provided that your sales team has been connecting on those platforms -- a process called social selling). Potential clients use their own social listening and social research strategies to find their potential vendors.

Because internet use is so prevalent, your customers are halfway through the purchase process before they ever engage with your sales team. 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of executives use contacts and information from social networks as part of their purchase process.


3. What role does “likability” play in the decision-making process?


Dale Carnegie framed it best: To become a great salesperson, you have to remember that people want to do business with people they like and respect. At the end of the day, while you may be selling to a customer, what you're really doing is looking to earn their trust. As Carnegie said, it's about learning how to "win friends and influence people." And, as it turns out, listening is key to getting there because it takes a salesperson closer to a prospect's compelling reasons to buy.


4. What role does “mitigating risk” play in decision making?


No one wants to make a bad decision, and your prospect is no different. They’re leery about making changes or purchasing products or services that could land them in hot water.


Your prospect’s perceived risk can quickly turn into a sales objection. That’s why it’s imperative your salespeople establish trust and maintain transparency. It gives the prospect a sense they are in good hands and safe to make a buying decision.


5. What role does consensus play in decision making?


Whether they’re selling to a large or small company, reps today rarely find a unilateral decision-maker. More often, they discover that the authority to make decisions rests with groups of individuals—all of whom have different roles, and all of whom have veto power. Reaching consensus and closing deals, therefore, takes a different approach.


6. How can a salesperson capture the attention of decision-makers?


By and large, a salesperson differentiates themself when they demonstrate an ability to deliver unique insight, a skill that can first be demonstrated through their social media content sharing and later confirmed through their ongoing social connections. Teams engaged in social selling, therefore, have a distinct advantage.


7. What should salespeople avoid when selling their products and services?


Aggression and prices that are good for “today only”.

Your prospects face a deluge of aggressive, desperate salespeople who are disrespectful of their time and generally assault them with calls. Don’t be like those amateurs!


Good salespeople disrupt the notion of what people expect from the typical sales call. They inquire about the prospect and their needs right off the bat instead of jumping into a tired sales pitch. They also avoid “today only” offers that cheapen their brand and make them seem desperate to close.


Understanding the journey of corporate buying behavior is key to meeting your prospects where they are and crafting solutions to fit their needs. For a personalized approach for your business, give us a call.



Download Your Free Formalized Sales eBook Here.



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