Until the early 2000’s one type of buyer dominated the B2B landscape. Particularly in complex business situations, these were buyers who had problems that were difficult to solve. Consequently, there was fairly heavy reliance on a sales person who, like a doctor, needed to help them better define and diagnose their problem, then help them understand the capabilities they needed to resolve it. In the mind of the buyer that set of capabilities represented a solution. The seller’s objective was to lead the buyer to the conclusion that they needed the seller’s products and/or services.
We call these buyers Seller Educated Buyers because the seller played an integral role in helping the buyer understand how to solve their pain. This gave birth to methodologies such as Solution Selling®, where the seller uncovered that buyer’s pain and turned it into a vision of a solution.
Although that continues to work quite well today with a large population of buyers, there has emerged another type of B2B buyer.
The internet has become almost ubiquitous, and the range of services and information available nothing short of enormous. Consequently, buyers from around the world are now able to use the internet to independently research their problems, analyze the reasons for them, determine the capabilities they need to best solve them, and research vendors to determine who can best meet their needs. We call these buyers Internet-Educated Buyers, and today approximately 55% of B2B buyers fall into this category. They use the internet to go through most of their decision-making process without finding it necessary to talk to a sales person!
So why would Internet-Educated Buyers even need to talk to a sales person? And how can sellers differentiate themselves and their offerings to these buyers? The answer is insight. Research has shown that “74% of buyers choose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight.” These buyers want to deal with sales people who they view as thought leaders AND who can add value by propelling them beyond their current vision.
So today’s B2B buyers represent a real conundrum for sales professionals:
How can I identify whether a targeted buyer is a Seller vs. Internet-Educated Buyer?
What does the Buyer Journey look like for each?
How should I prospect to each?
How should I attempt to develop needs for each, and particularly with Internet-Educated Buyers, how do I add insight?
I will answer these and other questions in upcoming articles. Stay tuned!
Founder & CEO
Bob is the Founder and CEO of Adventace® and author of the bestselling book, Create the High Performance Sales Environment®. He is also creator of the Adventace Sales Management System™, a Salesforce-based application that enables a high-performance sales environment. You can learn more at Bob’s Bio, and reach him at email@example.com or +1 412-585-1593.