10 selling skills buyers want from B2B salespeople

March 21st, 2018

  • Be prepared – buyers will take notice of your unique insights, knowledge of the buyer’s industry, and how much you know about his company. While good prep may not win you the business, it sure sets you apart from the competition. If you don’t have strong competitive advantages, you can overcome that with great preparation.
  • Buyers want to do the talking – about their company, their problems, their challenges. In our research we asked B2B buyers what they valued most from salespeople, they said the ability to ask good questions and listen. Salespeople should be listening intently and actively, talking less than 30% of the time.
  • Be a consultant from the beginning – buyers today expect you to consult with them from the start. Unless you can share some wisdom about how to solve their problems, share effective and emerging industry trends and solutions, and provide a unique perspective, you’ll be at a competitive disadvantage. Remember, “givers gain”.
  • Educate the buyer – the buyer is going to expect you to bring something new to the party – new information, new wisdom, a unique perspective, etc. Also, buyers will expect you to share ways others like them have solved similar challenges.
  • Be sympathetic to the buyers’ challenges – buyers have problems too and all too often they need to vent. Listening carefully and be empathetic to their challenges. This will accelerate your emotional connection with the buyer. Hone your active listening skills.
  • Ask really good questions – As mentioned in #2 above, buyers value above all else a salesperson’s ability to ask profound questions and listen carefully. When a buyer once commented to me, “none of your competitors asked these kinds of questions”, I learned quickly that the depth and relevance of my questions could distinguish me.
  • Explore their business – Find out why they are doing what they are doing. Buyers want you understand them and their businesses. Failing to do so is one of the biggest reasons buyers buy from someone else. There’s no better way to understand the current situation and determine how you can add value than exploring deeply what they are doing currently and why. In our research, we found that 86% of buyers would have a favorable view of the salesperson if that salesperson challenged the buyer’s assumptions about his business.
  • Provide options and explains advantages/disadvantages – our proprietary research supports this as well. When we asked buyers if they’d prefer being presented with options vs. recommendation of a single solution, 84% said they wanted options. Buyers don’t’ want to be sold to – they want to buy. Giving options lets the buyer decide what he wants to buy. Do this well and you’ll likely increase close rate and average order size.
  • No closing techniques – we’d all like to close as quickly as possible, but in B2B selling we should be satisfied at times with just advancing the sale. In our research we asked about closing techniques. Buyers responded that hard and manipulative closing techniques turn them off. Ask them “how do you want to move forward from here” or “what would you like the next step to be?” These are closing methods that will keep things moving in the right direction and keep the customer engaged with you.
  • Don’t interrupt the buyer but he can interrupt you – when we asked buyers to identify what turns them off about salespeople, one of the top answers was “interrupts me when I’m talking”. I know I am being redundant here, but go back to points #2 and #6 for more.
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