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New Selling Strategy Series – The Knowledgable B2B Buyer

Part 1-The Knowledgeable B2B BuyerSkeptical Guy is a Skeptic

News flash, not only has the B2B buying process changed but the B2B buyer has as well.  Back in the day, sales and marketing tactics were all the same regardless of a prospect – a glossy brochure, a cold call, a direct mail piece…one size fits all.  Those days are certainly over. Trust is paramount. And access to information from you or others is available faster than you can say “google.”

Your customers have wised-up[1], you should too!  Thanks to the internet, social media and other online influences- prospects are spending more time on the web or mobile device doing their own research.  Remember, the days of taking your word for it are over!

Let’s examine a top buying group whose wicked research skills demand a more customized approach – Generation X, (people born from 1960 to the early 1980’s).

  • Overly Skeptical
  • Research the company in depth
  • Stalk products – searching high and low for every detail
  • Cross reference – from peer reviews to industry ones, from literature, case studies, webinars, ebooks, white papers and videos
  • Research the sales team – are they trustworthy? Do they know what they are talking about? Can he/she/they be a partner?

Skeptical and savvy – these Gen Xers force us to change the process.  Forcing us to gain social capital [2]and take a hard look at our processes in sales and marketing. Embracing a social selling process is the first step in the new direction. It’s not about selling, it about solving.[3]  To keep your pipelines full, you should evaluate if you are still in the game or lost in the “research.”

Some key takeaways to keep in mind:

[1] The description of business-to-business buyers as more ‘rational’ than their consumer counterparts is perhaps controversial, but we believe true.  We may not leave our emotions at home when we go to work, but most of us attach them to a tight leash and try to keep them away from our colleagues. Would the consumer who pays £3,000 for a leather jacket that is less warm and durable than its £200 counterpart in the shop next door make a similar decision in the workplace?

[2]You build a reputation around your brand, your company, and it stands the test of time, as the saying goes, if you do it well. There’s a certain amount of goodwill that goes into this social capital concept and you can abuse it in some cases, and your buyers, your fans, will give you some slack, and forgive you. In other cases, all the capital in the world won’t help you if you cross certain lines…If we need social capital in order to influence others to buy from us, how do we build it in online circles and in real life? My belief is that we need to know our customers better. Technology helps us with that, but process is just as important.

[3] Let an actual buyer voice be heard:  “Okay, so what gets my goat more than anything is that after I do all the research and such, I finally get to talking to a sales rep. And what happens? They just regurgitate all the stuff I found online. They are not telling me anything new. Just telling me what I already know.”

Thoughts? Is it time for a new selling strategy?

 Join us next week when we discuss “Your B2B Social Profile-Are You Trustworthy Enough?”

About the author

Melissa Kennedy

I am an innovative, practical problem-solver with an MBA. Pioneered one of the first social media strategic plans for a Fortune 100 company, including monthly online TV program viewed by 120,000 customers. Created a scalable channel marketing service model and established a new customer communication channel through partner web syndication. Developed marketing plan for start-up technology firm. Launched first comprehensive marketing campaign for major science and technology university's $1 Billion fund-raising effort. Award-winning performance for 15 years across functions, industries and organizations.

My passion for results goes beyond professional pursuits. I am a global facilitator and co-organizer of Startup Weekends and serve as an advocate and volunteer for many local charities including Food Bank of Central/Eastern NC, North Carolina International Affairs Council and Connected Women of North Carolina. Plus, I have served as the President for the Triangle Interactive Marketing Association,

2 comments

3 pings

  1. christineramsey

    Great post and SO true. I never buy anything from a 2 thousand dollar stove to a 40 dollar sweater to big money home repairs and vacations without reading on-line reviews. They are my number one deal makers and breakers.
    Would I shop this way for business? You bet and I do.
    BTW, I am a boomer not an Xer which means in general, more cash to spend on me.

  2. Melissa Kennedy

    Thanks Chris! Great validation that these behaviors cross generation boundaries.

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