4 B2B Objections to the "Buying Cycle" Mentality (And How They Might Be Wrong)
In B2C, it is obvious that the “selling cycle” has become a “buying cycle,” but how can we be sure that this transition has occurred (or can potentially occur) in B2B?
Here are just a few of the reasons sales execs and consultancies argue that the shift of B2Bs toward new sales technologies/processes is more conservative.
· Complicated products and services make for boring and exhaustive consumption.
· The buying process engages multiple stakeholders within the business, which prolongs the buying cycle and creates more complicated engagements.
· The stakes are much higher than in B2C; more dollars are in play.
· Highly configurable products and areas of expertise often necessitate person-to-person interaction.
The crux of these objections seems to be customization; that is, B2Bs have been doing all along what megalithic B2Cs can only accomplish with automation – customization of every sale. So why do they need a technology – like say… Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) – to help them accomplish what they already do? And secondly, how could a piece of software accurately augment a process that is so variable and complex?
WHY THE “BUYING CYCLE” IS STILL A MORE ACCURATE PICTURE – EVEN FOR B2BS
These thoughts are absolutely valid, but they do not tell the whole story. SFDC, the CRM vendor with the largest international market share, built its platform for B2B – with almost total customizability. And if you read our blog last week, you would know that 57% of the purchase process is complete before the average B2B buyer engages a supplier.
That does not look like typical sales funnel behavior, but rather suggests the B2B buyer has already been persuaded by a variety of sources before they engage a sales rep.
Despite the differences between B2B and B2C, the purchase process is changing for all customers. Even corporate representatives are initiating product/services searches online and not with a sales rep or RFP. Despite any argumentation, the data is clearly pointing in the opposite direction.
WHAT DOES THE BUYING CYCLE MEAN FOR B2BS?
Since the buyer has more control now, sellers are changing hats, and instead of broadcasting long lists of features and benefits, sellers are spending more time watching and listening to their customers. They are doing this online – by tracking data, by engaging customers in social media, and by taking a deeper, data-driven look at customer lifetime value and satisfaction. The solution is not to sell harder; it is to sell smarter.
The mentality impacts sales too. Where the selling cycle is “selling,” viewing and using terms that make it appear that the customer has no choice, the buying cycle rep tries to understand what is important to the buyer, the company’s buying process, and any other details that are important to the product/market. Where the selling cycle overcomes objections, the buying cycle asks questions.
Successful B2B sales reps might already apply some or all of these buying-cycle practices, but a CRM allows the same actions to become automated and necessary steps for all sales reps, easily.
CRM also retakes control of the customer journey by automating lead generation. See how we customized a CRM to enable an electric utility services B2B to automate marketing based on regulatory change, and intelligently send information about a new product at the right time, to the right customers…