I was talking to a top performing sales rep the other day and she was lamenting about how the crisis was impacting her clients and forecasted deals. Spending freezes, budget lockdowns and new approval committees were all she talked about. And for good reason.
New research from DemandGen report indicates that indeed, 47% of B2B buyers said they’ve been forced to put off purchases due to COVID-19 crisis induced budget freezes.
However, the research contradicted a complete negative view. More than half of the buyers said the current crisis has NOT disrupted purchase plans, and in fact, 30% said they have positively ESCALATED some purchases due to changing business needs.
So, the research has several glimmers of hope, but selling in this environment is certainly different and not easy. As a seller, how do you succeed?
Based on this new research, we recommend these four key elements as a key to crisis selling success:
1) Alignment to Priority Projects – A whopping 82% of buyers indicated that purchase decisions now progress based on changing business needs and priorities. The challenges pre-crisis are not the same challenges your customer is facing today. As a result, you should work with your customers to tie your proposal to new priority projects, especially those transformation initiatives to help the organization pivot, survive and thrive post-crisis. And these priorities can change over time. The higher the priority challenge you are addressing, the more priority and focus you should place on the opportunity (as opposed to those firms where the tie is loose at best).
2) Better Facilitate Buying Decisions – Many organizations are struggling to get decisions through the new committee hurdles and approval processes. In the survey, 68% of buyers report that their decision making cycles have extended as a result of the crisis. This is because the team is spending more time researching purchases (77%); and struggling to gain consensus with a growing decision making group, including 71% who have implemented a formal buying committee to evaluate all purchases across the organization.
3) Personalized approach and attention – When folks are experiencing uncertainty and trying to navigate a crisis, they don’t want to be sold to, instead value empathy, listening and a personalized approach more than ever. This is borne from the research, with 76% of your buyers expecting more personalized attention from providers based on specific needs. The successful seller will ditch the “one size fits all” pitch and provide more personalized diagnosis and prescriptive approach.
4) Quantify your Business Value – Whether you like it or not, formal buying committees and financial gate-keepers are a reality in almost every account now. Gaining new business, or even assuring renewals will require you and your team to not just communicate, but credibly quantify your business value. In fact, 71% of buyers indicate they now conduct a detailed ROI analysis before making a final decision. From our research with IDC, we know that 2/3rds of buyers indicate they don’t have the knowledge, research metrics or tools needed to do ROI / business value calculations. Relying on the prospect to on their own develop the detailed ROI analysis on their own can lead to significant delays in the decision cycle, and results in more deals ending in “no decision”.
5) Intelligence – Quickly knowing what is working or not, and where to invest more or less is vital, especially as the risks of mis-teps amplify and transformation is accelerated through the crisis. The ability to instantly know which content, initiatives and campaigns are working is important, as is the ability to divest from the noise and focus precious resources on what matters most. Having visibility into all the content, initiatives and campaigns which are being leveraged in engagements and shared with prospects is critical, as is understanding how these assets are consumed by prospects and shared with decision makers. Correlating which assets are fueling deal velocity and performance can faithfully validate success and inform optimized investments.
Although times are tough as a seller, this new research proves that it is not all that bad. The sellers glass is more than half full, especially for those reps who can better align, facilitate, prescribe and justify.
B2B BUYER BEHAVIOR STUDY: PURCHASE PLANS STILL PROGRESSING DESPITE DISRUPTION, BUT WITH INCREASED EXPECTATIONS FOR RELEVANCE & PERSONALIZATION – JUNE 2020
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