We live in a hyper-dynamic business world, which impacts the way we sell and how successfully our organizations can generate revenue. The purchasing function in many organizations is becoming much more strategic and powerful. In addition, the process is changing; due to the prevalence of technology, access to information and social recommendations, and the connectedness of our world, buyers can go much further down the decision-making path before they ever speak with a sales rep.

With these changes in the buying process, how can sales reps successfully engage their buyers throughout the sales process? According to recent research by ValueSelling Associates, Inc. and Training Industry, Inc., 60 percent of B2B buyers distrust the integrity of salespeople, and only 34 percent of buyers strongly agree that their point-of-contact sales rep is helpful throughout the buying process. In light of this study, here are some ways salespeople can increase their effectiveness.

Develop Better Business Acumen to Engage Buyers.

On average, buyers are giving sales reps a “C” grade. There’s clearly room for reps to shore up their ability to engage the buyer. Prepare for each sales call with proper research so reps can set themselves apart by providing unique industry insights. As sales forces become younger and younger, many reps would benefit from developing their business acumen. That means if they’re selling to a business executive, they must think like an executive and speak their language: the language of finance.

Buyers Want to Engage Throughout the Process.

We need to engage buyers at various points in their buying cycle. That means meeting buyers where they are rather than pitching and dumping data. Sellers must learn where buyers are and how they got there by asking good, relevant questions.

Even though buyers will search for solutions on their own, 87 percent of buyers want to understand product/service relevance with the help of a sales rep. SiriusDecisions’ 2017 Buying Study found that more than 60 percent of buyers received information from the sales rep of the winning provider. Winning vendors are proactively meeting with prospects in the early stages of the buying cycle rather than waiting until prospects are halfway through it.

Break Through the Clutter With Multichannel Communication.

Today, email and virtual communication have taken over as the preferred means of communication with sales reps. Buyers don’t have the time or tolerance to meet with people just for the sake of meeting.

Since only one in four buyers rate salespeople as “always effective” at communicating virtually, there is a specific need for salespeople to develop stronger communication and technology-related skills. To break through, reps need a multichannel cadence approach to prospecting. Here’s how buyers prefer sales to contact them:

  • Email (81 percent of respondents)
  • Phone/VOIP (63 percent)
  • Text messaging (38 percent)
  • Social media (35 percent)
  • In-person meetings (27 percent)
  • Industry/networking events (23 percent)

So, What Does It Take For Sales to Be Successful?

For salespeople to be successful in their relationships with B2B buyers, they need to engage, have multiple touchpoints, communicate successfully and add value with their business acumen. One strategy for success is what we call “value-based interruptions.” By respectfully engaging with their contacts at the appropriate time, reps can share information and insight and ask informed questions. The bottom line is that people will buy when they don’t feel sold to, and communication, trust, satisfaction and commitment are key to successful relationships with buyers.