Clients want solutions to their problems
A client’s world is not centered around buying from a vendor. A client’s world revolves around preventing and resolving problems. Today’s search engines are a very effective tool for clients to help discover and research a variety of solutions to their problems. As a consequence, the role of sales as an information butler is disappearing. This is having a profound impact on business-to-business (B2B) marketing and sales organizations, and requires us to modernize the way we conduct business.
In this blog I share my views why this is happening, which part of the funnel it impacts, how sales can optimize this impact, and provide a set of simple actions on what you can do today.
Critical role of value creation
As sales professionals, we use phone calls, perform presentations, and write e-mails to exchange information with a client. As the client gains more information, we develop a deeper understanding of our client’s needs. This is a critical part of the B2B sales cycle as both teams establish value.
I am confident that you, at one time or another, found yourself writing a value proposal to help obtain budget with your client, not for a client. This process can take months, often leading to a very personal relationship based on mutual trust.
Losing control to a search engine
Based on the advances in search algorithms, combined with the amount of online, I see my clients using Google to search for, and find valuable content that helps them in the decision process. And although we, sales, still play an important role later on providing pricing and negotiating, it is this critical phase of value creation, which takes place early on in the sales cycle, that suffers. The Google search engine replaced us. After all, it is a more responsive information butler, and with it we lose insight and ultimately control.
Competing on price with new entrants
This explains why many established companies find themselves competing on price and features with new entrants in the market. The new entrants spend their entire budget on search engine optimization (SEO) that shows-up as a top result in the client search results, while your company is still wasting time on creating color brochures about the history of the company, or a spec sheet no one really reads.
How you regain control
If you recognize this, and want to regain control, it is time to start selling online! And with selling I don’t mean marketing. A social media campaign is a must-have, and it delivers great marketing results with lots of views, impressions, and even ‘leads’ but it does NOT generate sales. At least not in the B2B professional sale (transactional sale, yes).
For that, you need an online sales initiative or a social selling campaign. The Future of Sales is Now is focused on modernizing sales organizations to create an online sales presence, develop online sales skills, coach on the use of sales 2.0 tools, and create content aimed at generating sales.