By Sean Burke (KITEDESK INSIGHTS)
(This post originally appeared on www.customerthink.com)
These days it appears that B2B buyers are firmly in the driver’s seat. Equipped with Google search, online forums and easy access to trusted thought leaders and peers, they favor discovering answers themselves, completing some 60 to 70 percent of their decision process before contacting a single vendor.
Sales leaders are being held back by the belief that they have to react to technological change in order to keep up with the buyer. But it’s not about reacting– it’s about anticipating. To take a page from Wayne Gretzky’s playbook: good salespeople meet their buyers where they are; great salespeople meet their buyers where they are going to be.
Salespeople must have better data about their buyer than their buyer has about them. This enables a seller to anticipate a buyer’s next move, and engage that buyer around value-added data or content that will influence their decision making process as they move forward.
Prospects in the very early stages tend not to respond well to a sales offer, but as Heinz Marketing president Matt Heinz explains, “They will respond to advice. Help. A link to a best practice article. Someone who helps them discover and self-educate. The source of that information has a leg-up in a sales process that hasn’t begun, but where the prospect is already becoming qualified and establishing solution preferences.”
I call this anticipatory selling.