Why New Buyers See You First. And What To Do About ItArticle by Colleen Francis, August 13, 2018
A short time ago in the B2B field, buyers were unaware of who sellers were until we called them. Today the opposite is true: new customers choose to approach us out of the blue, armed with personal research. These buyers are educated, informed and opinionated. They’re also time pressed, distracted and overwhelmed with options — yet want solutions implemented quickly. In other words, we wait, wait and wait for new buyers…and then scramble to meet their expectations for instant results.
Why is this happening? There are three reasons:
1. A highly risk-averse marketplace
Today’s buyers see risk everywhere. They want to verify who your company is — and decide in advance if you’re worthy of their business. They don’t have the time or stomach to deal with people they can’t trust.
As a result, buyers go with their own truths — formed independent of sellers — and are driven as much by emotion as by reason. They don’t give sellers the opportunity to initially define how they feel about a product or service. Buyers decide that for themselves. And then – and only then – can they make a decision that aligns with their feelings.
This buyer behavior is well documented. Forrester, for example, reports that in today’s sales transactions only 17 percent of a buyer’s time is spent talking to sales reps. The rest they use for their own online research.
2. A mistrust for biased information
It’s been said that 90% of all data in the world was created in just the past few years. And yet less than 0.5% is used by people to make decisions. From an ocean of information, we still only fill thimbles of knowledge. And that data comes mostly from online discussions in peer groups and from reviews. Not from sellers or from designated experts.
Think about your own habits when buying products, trying a new restaurant or staying at a hotel. What do you trust more? The research you do online and in forums? Or what the hotel sales person, who’s trying to secure a booking, tells you?
3. Time-pressed buyers
Most of today’s customers do their homework about seller’s products long before they make contact. Aside from risk aversion and trusting their online resources, buyers are simply too busy to meet with sellers at the start of their buying journey. According to a Corporate Vision study, 74% of the process is spent without the seller involved. And that gap is growing. A separate study found that more than two-thirds of buyers are waiting longer to initiate contact with vendors than even just a few years ago!
How to strategize
The three reasons above demonstrate an undeniable truth: you need to be a marketer at the front end of the sales process and a seller at the back end. How do you do this? By launching an omni-media communications platform, skillfully and strategically, to ensure the buyer can find you when they start looking. This means creating the ideal conditions to be successfully spotted by that customer.
To illustrate, let’s talk about cold calls.
In an environment where buyers are busy, and attention is scarce, smart sellers now use the phone strategically rather than as a blunt tool. They reach out to those who have become warm leads — thanks to a first point of contact they’ve warmed up via tools such as social media, networking, content marketing and referrals.
For example, an international trade-based client of mine was struggling with steadily dropping success rates on their cold calls. That’s when we decided to implement a new system: in cases where there’s no response after two phone calls to a prospect, send a LinkedIn connection request. This simple change led to their conversion ratio of conversations-to-opportunities improving by a whopping 40%.
Another client, biotechnology firm DNA Genotek, gained major traction when they invested in an email campaign aimed specifically at their research physician buyers. They garnered a 20% response rate because they not only understood who the customer was, but how their problems could be solved by the seller’s unique product.
In a final example, an industrial products client saw a 31% increase in close rate and a 40% increase in close speed when they adopted a sales campaign that included targeted calls, emails, videos, and networking versus their the old way of pure cold calling.
It’s omni-media strategies like these that can help you maintain a steady flow of sales in today’s new buying landscape. Your pipeline will stay well-stocked while your unknown buyers are researching you and waiting to make a move.