Prospects need more insights, not more information.
The love affair began when I put a soft, Italian leather wallet in his hand. It was a done deal. I made the sale.
This was decades ago, when I owned a luggage and gift store. My customers had countless choices for suitcases. It was my job to simplify the process. So, I asked many questions to assess how often they traveled, and if travel was for business or with family. I then offered two or three options, and they chose one. This approach made it easy for customers to buy.
It’s a lot easier selling a tangible product, versus a service or a cloud solution. Prospects can’t feel or touch what they’re buying. It’s the job of account-based sales reps to make it easy for their prospects to buy, by making the intangible seem tangible.
This is a lot tougher today, because buyers are already suffering from information overload. There’s too much to learn, too many choices, and too many salespeople who can’t wait to tell prospects everything about their product.
So, how can account-based sales teams sell complex solutions without overwhelming prospects? Research shows the key is less information and more insights.
Rethink Your Account-Based Sales Pitch
According to researchers from CEB, “Customers are increasingly overwhelmed and often more paralyzed than empowered.” Their Harvard Business Review article, “The New Sales Imperative,” summarizes a recent study of more than 600 B2B buyers. The authors explain:
Our research finds that the vast majority of sales professionals believe that giving customers more information helps them make better decisions; that they must flexibly respond to a customer’s direction (even when they disagree with it); and that it’s “extremely important” to help customers consider all possible alternatives. Sellers are striving to be more responsive than ever—taking the customer’s lead and providing whatever support is requested. They ensure that customers have all the data, cases, and testimonials they might need to guide their decision making, and they lay out a suite of options, continually adjusting the offering as customer demand evolves.
This sounds good in theory. It certainly jibes with the traditional wisdom that the customer is always right and should be in the driver’s seat during the sales process. But according to CEB, this approach drives an 18 percent decrease in “purchase ease.”
What does work? The researchers evaluated dozens of selling strategies and discovered:
A proactive, prescriptive approach increased purchase ease by 86%. Prescriptive suppliers give a clear recommendation for action backed by a specific rationale; they present a concise offering and a stable view of their capabilities; and they explain complex aspects of the purchase process clearly … Not surprisingly, customers perceive prescriptive salespeople as being one step ahead, anticipating and eliminating obstacles. That translates directly into business results: Suppliers that make buying easy are 62% likelier than other suppliers to win a high-quality sale (one in which the customer buys a premium offering). In fact, purchase ease is by far the biggest driver of deal quality we’ve found across three large studies. What’s more, customers who complete a prescriptive, easy sales process are dramatically less likely to regret their purchase or to speak negatively of the supplier, and are more likely to repurchase, than customers in conventional sales interactions.
Read the rest of the CEB article for more specifics on a prescriptive approach for account-based selling.
Get Proactive with Your Account-Based Selling
No buyer waits with baited breath to hear account-based sales reps recite a list of everything they offer. This approach not only confuses buyers; it blocks their ability to make decisions.
Buyers don’t take action because we offer compelling content or happen to email them at just the right time. Buyers take action when salespeople engage them in conversation, help them find the right solutions for their problems, and accelerate the buying process.
And what’s the best way to start that conversation, earn trust, and accelerate the sales process? By getting referrals, of course.
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