5 Questions About Shifting B2B Buyer Expectations, Answered by Leading Sales Experts
The dynamic between buyers and sellers is shifting. Buyers are more educated than ever – but buying software is also harder than ever. There’s more information, more competition, and more stakeholders who need to be involved.
It’s clear that the sales strategies of the past aren’t going to cut it today. How can your team adjust?
In our recent masterclass, leading sales experts answered the top questions about how to sell to modern B2B buyers and create a more transparent sales process:
- Sahil Mansuri (CEO @ Bravado): Runs a global community of 170,000 B2B Sales Professionals
- Michael Harness (VP of Sales @ G2): Serial sales leader from G2, Glassdoor, Indeed & more
- Ben Pearson (Head of Sales & GTM @ Navattic): Helped build and scale sales teams at Square & Front
Watch the full masterclass and get the key takeaways below.
#1 How have buyers’ expectations changed, and what is causing this shift?
“Buyers aren’t starting from square one anymore by the time they get to a conversation with sales. They’re starting at square three or four.” - Ben
Buyers today have more access to information, so they’re coming into discovery or demo calls more educated. And since buyer demographics have skewed younger, they’re used to easy, frictionless buying processes.
Because of this, the bar is higher for salespeople. You need to be an authority in what you’re selling and guide the buyer through their decision making process.
Even if the buyer has a deep understanding of the problem they’re trying to solve, they haven’t seen dozens of other people solve similar problems with your solution. They haven’t been watching the solution market like a hawk. They don’t know exactly how your tool can help solve their problems.
This is the value you bring as a salesperson – you’re the consultant, the expert, who can guide your buyers forward and connect their problems to your solution.
#2 What are the signals that you need to adapt your sales process for modern buyers?
“The signal is that your deals are taking forever.” - Sahil
It’s extremely uncommon to have a single buyer in the modern buying process. Typically, there are multiple stakeholders involved, from finance to legal to IT and beyond.
When your prospect is excited but no contract is getting signed, it’s a sign that your buyer doesn’t know how to get consensus internally.
The modern sales process is two steps:
- Sell to your prospect
- Your prospect sells to the rest of the company
Part of your job is to help your prospect navigate the process of getting internal buy-in. This is where mutual action plans come in handy!
#3 What do you do if you realize you’re not talking to the DM?
It’s frustrating to realize, halfway through a conversation with a prospect, that they don’t have the knowledge or authority to make the call about buying your solution. The experts suggested two steps for solving this:
- Directly ask your prospect about their company’s software buying process and who has authority. You may have an opportunity to proactively provide information to the rest of their team, or start a plan for getting the actual DM on board.
“If your prospect hasn’t bought software before, or doesn’t have the authority to do it, ask who is going to help them make this decision. They’ll realize, ‘I might need this salesperson’s help to navigate the process.’” - Michael
- If you’re getting nowhere – move on!
“If I realize the person doesn’t have authority, I will move it from Opportunity back to a Lead and just go back to prospecting as if nothing has happened. They won’t intro you. They don’t have power. It’s your job to crack into the person who has authority, not theirs.” - Sahil
#4 How do you adapt your sales process to be more collaborative?
Exactly how to make your sales process more collaborative will differ depending on your product, current process, ICP, and a number of other factors. Here’s a few ideas from the panelists for what to focus on.
“The less time you spend screen sharing and the more time you spend having a conversation, the better your sales process is going to be.” - Sahil
Early in the sales process, the key is to be empathetic and truly work to understand what the buyer is trying to solve – not just sell them something. Actively listen to what your buyers are saying and write it down. Use and rephrase their words to show you want to understand them. Go deeper and figure out how to not just uncover their pain, but reframe it for them.
“No matter what format you use, remember why you got the conversation.” - Michael
Whether you use a more traditional slide deck, screen-share a Notion page, or use another approach, start with the reason why you’re talking to the prospect in the first place. If you do that, you’re more likely to connect and discover whether you have a viable solution for them.
“Ask for feedback. What’s helpful and what isn’t? Is it meeting their expectations?” - Ben
A straightforward suggestion for being more collaborative is: ask your prospects what they think. Check in with them throughout the process, and when possible, provide options for how they want to learn about your solution. You can even ask your current customers for feedback on their experience, so you can continue to hone your sales process.
#5 What’s the most exciting shift you’re seeing in buying today?
“It blows my mind every time I get a great outbound email or go through a great sales process, because it’s so rare. You have a massive differentiator if you’re selling the way we’re talking about.”
“86% of B2B buyers are using the internet, peer review sites, and all these resources, so we’re actually really excited about the access to information. It validates what we’re doing in the market.”
“Buyers becoming more educated is a double-edged sword for sales folks. It makes our job a little more difficult, but it should also make us better sellers and hyper-focus on our ICP.”
“I’m most excited to see a different type of person entering the sales workforce. I want to see us championing the profession, and the recognition that sales is consultative and all the things we’ve talked about here. A rising tide lifts all boats.”