Selling to people in businesses is hard for three important reasons:
- There are very few (or no) champions of your product or service offering because no one knows how good your product or service offering is inside the organization you’re selling to.
- There are no direct ways to influence the people who can make the decision to buy from you—today.
- There has been a massive shift in consumer behavior, but not a massive shift how businesses purchase from you based in the reality of shifting consumer behavior.
These are big problems and they’re getting bigger because the practice of creating buyer personas still dominates in a big way in almost every piece of advice available around advising organizations on how to sell to organizations.
While buyer personas are a fine shorthand for figuring out the profile in your head as a seller to businesses, the downfall of them is that they neglect each of the three areas above. In addition, they depersonalize the act of buying (or purchasing or procurement) and attempt to reduce it to a series of formulaic and discreet steps.
Which, of course, makes the three reasons above more problematic, not less.
Here are three ideas that may help when you’re selling (peace, consulting, freelance solutions, or even you’re next “gee-whiz” product to a skeptical procurement buyer):
Champions are easy to get (and even easier to lose), but require engaging with personality, care, and empathy.
Most of the people who are going to become your champions are the ones who have the power to say “no” but no power to say “yes.”
There are still gatekeepers in many organizations, and going where they are (in-person, online, emotionally, rationally, etc.) will go a long way toward engaging with them.
You must determine if buying today is all that matters, or if arbitraging the time to build a relationship today against the dollars that you are going to get tomorrow, matters more in the long run.
The short run will take care of itself.
Does your selling strategy include a 1,000-year long plan?
The reality of consumer behavior means that buyer personas are dead as predictors of selling success in the B2B space.
It also means that running after every social platform for sales is also dead.
This is a good thing.
In principle, this means that consumer behavior in business to business sales is the same behavior in business to consumer sales, but the volume of the connection is lower.
In practice, this means that targeted videos on a YouTube channel, embedded in an email campaign, direct to a buyer, matter more than the number of Facebook likes you happen to be cultivating that aren’t converting to sales.
In practice, this also means that providing value to the small number of businesses you work with as a selling organization, trumps the number of actual businesses that you work with.
Or that you think you should work with.
Champions, behavior, targeted engagement, and long-term strategy matter more for business success than just closing the sale and moving on to the next client.