How to Win More Deals from the Modern Buyer

by Lenwood Ross December 8th, 2020

We all wish that we could walk into a prospect’s office, sit down with a cappuccino, engage in small talk, and make our pitch. 

We want a quick and resounding, “YES!” 

Right?

Unfortunately, business is not like Hallmark movies.

In traditional B2B sales, sellers can engage in a long and drawn-out process struggling to connect with decision-makers through cold email or cold calls. 

Over the last several years, that process has become even more challenging for sellers. Hubspot reports that the response rate on email campaigns is an abysmal 2.1%. 

The reason is that the Internet and social media have changed how buyers make their purchasing decisions.

In the past, sellers had more information than buyers. But that's no longer true.

Buyers have just as much information as sellers.

Modern sellers from every industry must adapt.

A Growing Number of Influencers

Selling to businesses means selling to a team of people influencing the buying decision.

Larger and more complex deals have more people influencing the buying decision.

Today, Gartner estimates an average of 11 influencers or participants involved in a B2B buying decision; that number can flex up to nearly 20.

Source: The Future of Sales: Transformational Strategies for B2B Sales Organizations

People Influencing the Buying Decision

The people who influence the buying decision may include different types of influencers and decision-makers:

  • end-users - End users are the day-to-day users of a product. They push the buttons, touch the product, use it, love it, and hate it.
  • Influencers - Influencers shape the trends, style, and opinions of an industry or market. Influencers exert intense pressure on buying decisions and are often outside of the organization.
  • Recommenders - Recommenders differ from influencers because their opinions can make or break a sale. They could be a blogger recommending a product or a department head prescribing that any new software must be cloud-based. 
  • Economic buyer - The economic buyer controls the budget and often sits higher on the decision-making pyramid.
  • Decision-maker - The decision-maker may be the same as the economic buyer or higher up on the decision-making pyramid. The economic decision-maker is sometimes the ultimate decision-maker. But sellers should not assume that.
  • Saboteurs - These people could exist anywhere in the buyer's journey and hold titles like CFO or CIO. You need to find them and influence them because they exert outsized influence on decision-making, often with veto authority. 

Source: The Startup Owner's Manual, The Step-by-Step Guide for Building a Great Company by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf.

With so many unknown influencers potentially weighing in on the buying decision, it doesn’t make sense to target just one person. 

Influencers of every type need to be aware of who we are. 

Virtual selling helps us simultaneously influence more people in the buyer's journey, accelerating the sales process. 

Social media platforms create a virtual location where sellers and buyers meet and engage in conversations. 

Every aspect of networking and relationship building occurs virtually on the social media platform.

Compare and Contrast Traditional Networking with Virtual Networking

Old Way

  • Sellers call, email, and meet in-person with different customer types without understanding relationships, influence, or authority one-by-one or in small groups.
  • Sellers struggle to understand the reasons buyers make purchase decisions.
  • Sellers operate based on perceptions and assumptions about authority and influence.
  • Sellers follow a linear process wasting time attempting to identify decision-makers and economic buyers, and other influencers.

Old Result

  • Sales cycles are long.
  • Customer interactions and collaboration are cumbersome. Customers are skeptical and suspicious.
  • High uncertainty and deal skepticism result in lost deals. 

New Way

Sellers present their authentic selves on social media connecting with the target customer's network.

The seller creates and curates content that demonstrates the seller's expertise.

Sellers provide analysis and insights through effective engagement with the buyer's network on social media helping buyers identify problems, explore solutions, and build requirements.  

New Result

Sellers influence the customer and the customer's network, including the buying team, simultaneously, building rapport and deeper relationships across the organization. 

Seller's authenticity helps to build trust with the target customer's network, including unknown influencers.

Sellers have more confidence in the seller and the deals.

Deals close faster.

How do I learn virtually selling? 

Building a network and engaging in conversations on social media is not intuitive. 

It’s a little bit like basketball. Anyone can pick up a basketball and take a shot. 

If you work on your shooting, you might be able to win a game of H-O-R-S-E. 

But if you want to play pickup ball at the local courts, you better know what you’re doing. 

You need to know more than just how to shoot and dribble. You need to know the rules, how to pass, and a few plays at a minimum.

Dominate the court, and people will want you on their team. They’ll talk about you around the courts.

Show up daily with killer skills, and you’ll become a playground legend.  

Accelery, LLC and DLA Ignite

I partnered with Tim Hughes, best selling author, co-founder, and CEO of DLA Ignite and the #1 social selling influencer in the world because I wanted my network to learn from the best.

We’ve developed our virtual selling learning experience to trains users in DLA Ignite’s proprietary process that is proven to get results. 

Networking is the key to growing your business, but doing it in-person is a thing of the past.

For more information on how you can be a part of the 12-week launch in January, please email me at lross@accelery.com.