Just In: New Rules of Deal-Making
By Raja Singh, founder and CEO of Revolear
As is the case with many other facets of our lives, the pandemic added a layer of complexity to work culture and how we do business. It changed how we communicate with friends and colleagues and how we buy groceries and multi-million-dollar software.
The sales process went through a transformation too. For years dealmaking involved face-to-face meetings, business lunches and happy hours with prospective clients. And now, most buyers opt out of face-to-face time in favor of online research and video calls. So, how do you sell when you aren’t in the room?
Hybrid Sales Are Here To Stay
There are several things you need to consider when coming up with a sales approach that will help you succeed in the new reality.
First, according to research, the number of stakeholders participating in the buying decision has increased from 8 to 12 people since 2019. These are the people you need to sell to. These are also the people who need to come to a contractual agreement on a specific product or service. And the higher the stakes – the cost and business impact – the more complicated the approval process.
The next important aspect is buyer indecision. The added complexity doesn’t just work one way to make sellers’ life harder. It affects buyers too. According to the book The Jolt Decision, more than 56% of deals are lost to customer indecision. Clients aren’t worried about missing out on a good deal, they are worried about making a bad one.
Another challenge – less face time. Whether in-person or over Zoom, buyers aren’t spending much time with sellers. Most of the information they need is readily available online, so they trust online reviews and demo videos to do research and vendor vetting.
By now, buyers are also used to having a variety of options when it comes to communication channels. According to McKinsey, 94% of B2B customers think the hybrid sales model, which includes face-to-face, remote and online sales, is more effective than what we had before the pandemic. B2B clients are now much more open to spending their budgets through online channels. The same survey showed that 35% of the respondents are willing to pay $500,000 or even more on a single transaction.
While none of this is bad news, sellers have to adapt and figure out how to meet the increasingly nuanced demands of their customers.
Changing buyer behavior can only mean an impending shift in sales and dealmaking. While the approaches will be unique to each organization and prospective customer, let me offer a few tips on where to focus your attention.
#1 Being aware and receptive to the changing landscape
The first step is admitting that times have changed and the once effective approaches are now a thing of the past. “Selling harder” – advice that many sales managers offer their teams – may not be the only answer or an answer at all. Spend time researching and studying your customers’ post-pandemic needs and expectations.
#2 Offering more channels of communication
Now that you’ve gathered enough intelligence about your buyer, it’s time to look at how well your current communication channels match their preferences. Still, pushing face-to-face meetings? With an increased number of stakeholders participating in the decision-making process, you may be losing precious time trying to get them all in the same room.
And what if they need to be in touch during the process to ask questions? Are you ready to offer an easy online channel of communication that wouldn’t require calls or formal meetings? Be sure to look into your communication methods and offer to “meet” your customers where they already are.
#3 Finding digital tools that offer flexibility and ease for both buyers and sellers
Many suppliers have relied on siloed applications and redlined documents to manage their deals. Find solutions that will help you move dealmaking into the digital realm. That’s where your customers want to communicate and collaborate with you.
The solution also needs to extend beyond sales. To offer convenience to your clients, look for platforms that can streamline not just the sales process but other functions that go along with it: legal, finance and operations, among others.
#4 Offer a bold solution that speaks directly to the customer’s pain points
Customers’ expectations of your products and services are shifting too. You need to differentiate your brand from the dizzying array of options available on the market. To do that, be bold, specific and take responsibility.
The pandemic may be over, but we will undoubtedly experience aftershocks for years to come. In these ever-changing conditions, all we can do is be open to change and ready to shift the strategies that once seemed bulletproof.
Sales professionals are no strangers to thinking on their feet. While this is still a crucial element to being successful in the modern world of dealmaking, there are also a variety of digital nuances that can both solve the problems and add to them. Staying up to date on the tools that can ease client communication and add efficiency to the puzzle of completing a B2B sale is worth your organization’s time and money.