When we talk about B2B sales, what are we really selling? Many B2B companies and their sales teams tend to get their tongues tied in knots when talking about value propositions, competitive advantages, and other marketing lingo. Too much B2B marketing is full of buzzwords, jargon and hyped-up promises.
Many B2B sales professionals are trying so hard to convince our prospects of the value of what we sell, with ever-more-ornate language, that we forget the simple truth about what our customers really want to buy.
Because the truth is, in B2B sales, every single sales conversation boils down to one (or more) of the following 3 simple things:
These are the three simple things that motivate B2B buyers – they want to save time, save money (or make more money), or avoid aggravation. These are the biggest drivers behind every single B2B sales decision.
Are your sales conversations focusing on these simple things? Or are you (unintentionally) clouding your message with talk about technical features, design concepts, state-of-the-art technology, or any of the other buzzwords that all too often creep in to the vocabulary of B2B sales people?
I’ve worked with lead generation programs for hundreds of B2B companies, and one of the lessons we’ve learned is that your solution must solve one or more of these three simple issues. Whatever you’re selling in the B2B world, it needs to save time for the customer, save money (or make money) for the customer (be prepared for ROI case studies), or help the customer avoid aggravation. If you can’t demonstrate this easily, you need to retool your sales strategy.
The more complex or difficult your solution is to implement, the more of these you need to check off. Here are some examples of how companies can adapt their sales strategies to speak to these core concerns of Time, Money and Aggravation.
Can your solution help your clients get things done faster, more efficiently, with less wasted time and with greater productivity? Be prepared to discuss details and statistics. How many labor hours can your solution save? How much faster (as a percentage basis) can your solution help get things done? How much does your software boost productivity or avoid wasted effort, and how can you put a dollar value on that savings? Remember that time is money. If you can show your customers how your solution helps attain more value out of every employee’s limited time, they’ll be willing to listen – and buy.
Save Money (or Make Money)
Competing on price is not always the best long-term strategy, because there’s almost always some other company willing to offer a lower price. But if you can offer your customers a significant cost savings over what they’re currently paying to a competitor, you can usually get the sales conversation started.
If you are selling commodity type products (ink, hardware, office supplies), price alone can usually get your foot in the door. But once you have the conversation underway with the prospect, you need to build credibility. Show them why your service or solution is trustworthy – show them that even if the price is lower than what they’re currently paying, they can still count on a reliable service.
If you’re selling a solution that’s going to help your customer make more money, you need to demonstrate why that is the case. Do you have a customer relationship management system that will help super-charge the company’s sales force productivity? Can you offer consulting or coaching that will make the company more profitable and productive? Do you offer any guarantees or free trials of your service to help build trust and make the customer feel that they are not taking too big of a risk in buying from you?
What about your solution is easier to work with, more elegant, more customer-friendly, or just better at helping people avoid stress? This factor can be harder to measure than “Time” and “Money,” but it’s important to show your customers how your solution can make their lives simpler and easier. Think one step ahead to how your decision maker is going to have to justify their decision to their supervisors. How can you make it easier for your decision maker to “sell” your solution to their higher-ups in the organization?
These three simple things at the heart of every sales conversation often require that you take a bigger picture, longer-term to the client’s challenge. But remember, that the more challenging your solution is to implement, the more of these (Time, Money, Aggravation) you need to check off. If you are selling a new Enterprise Risk Planning (ERP) software based solution that will effect multiple departments to implement, you need to make sure your solution is achieving all three simple things (Time, Money, Aggravation) in spades. Your decision maker knows full well that implementing your solution will take time, cost a lot of money, and create some aggravation while retraining staff, so you must prove that in the long run the savings of time, money and aggravation will more than make up for the initial costs.