Steve Martin, technology sales author, sales researcher, Founder of Heavy Hitter Sales Training, and adjunct Professor at USC, and Katie Bullard, Chief Growth Officer at DiscoverOrg, join me on this episode of #Accelerate! to discuss their new report on B2B buyer preferences.
People hear Steve Martin, and they smile. He has to go by Steve W. Martin. Steve says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is customer attention span. Attention spans have been shrinking for years, influenced by technology.
Katie explains the DiscoverOrg report, “Why Didn’t They Buy: A Deep Dive into Buyer Preferences, and Implications for Salespeople,” primarily authored by Steve. The goal is to share knowledge of buyer behaviors to adapt seller behaviors.
The report notes that buyers rank feature sets among competing products as equal. Factors other than product determine the sale. The sales cycle is the process of ferreting out the truth from confusing product claims.
Buyers are more informed today than ever. One of the findings of the report is the influence of the internet, and how buyers use it. Steve says generalizations have exceptions. Katie talks about selling to sales, vs. selling to marketing.
Selling to personas encourages rigidity. People belonging to a persona are not identical. Sales methods fit the pitch around the persona, not around people. Selling fits around people, not personas, so, human connection is vital.
In our lifetime, AI will not replace reps. The report gives six topic areas. First is Risk. Buyers see most reps as average or poor. People with degrees in the sciences have a lower view of salespeople, which affects their tolerance for risk.
Buyer perception of reps and buyer willingness to take risks are inversely proportional. At the low end of risk are government and health care. At the high end are fashion, entertainment, and real estate. RFPs protect against reps.
Group Dynamics is the second topic. There are several influencers on a buying committee, but the main one to convince is ‘the bully with the juice.’ This dominant person is not afraid to go against the flow. Steve explains how they buy.
Vendor Market Position Advantages is the third topic. Buyers don’t care if you are the first, second, third, or lower in your industry market, just so your name is known. Buyers do not like unknown quantities.
Topic four is Websites. Topic five is Selling Style. Buyers prefer friendly, moderately knowledgeable reps over personally cold, highly knowledgeable reps, and charismatic but unknowledgeable reps. Fit your approach to the buyer.
Topic six is Buyer’s Regret. Buyer’s remorse is largely not the salesperson’s fault. Steve asked buyers to explain their buyer’s remorse. He found 10 root causes, and 70% of the time, the root cause was an action of the buyer.
It is critical to manage expectations throughout the process, and especially, right after the contract for a complex order is signed, so there is mutual understanding of the deal, and no confusion. Buyers have a short attention span.