Icky stereotypical sales behaviors make buyers run for cover. Forrester research reports that only 19% of executives feel their time spent with sellers is valuable. And with good cause. Too few sellers know what it takes to create value.
In fact, many sellers we've interviewed recently reject the notion that they have the power, authority, time or responsibility to singlehandedly create something substantial enough to be valued by their prospects. Wrong! The misunderstanding is that sellers are over-estimating what's required for value creation. Buyers want something much simpler and far more natural than what we're working so hard to give them.
To understand what they want, we need to do two things. First, define value. Second, go straight to the source and hear directly from buyers about what they value.
1. Value is the relative worth, merit of importance of something. The key word in this definition is "relative." That one word alone explains why we can't make assumptions about value, why we can't generalize it to all like buyers, and why we can't expect others to value what we think they should. Value is deeply personal, somewhat situational and affected by what else is in the mix.
2. B2B Buyers told us what they value when it comes to seller behaviors. What they told us is straight-forward and gives us a blueprint of replicatable behaviors for sellers to follow. This webinar explains the findings and how the behaviors buyers prefer are more akin to leadership behaviors than old-school selling behaviors.
With the Stop Selling & Start Leading® research and clarity about what we're after when we seek to build value for buyers, we can conclude:
You Can Create Value Out of Thin Air, In an Instant
Your product has inherent value and will do something for those who buy and use it. Your company offers added value enhancements to the product in the form of service, deal sweeteners and other buyer incentives.
But only you, the seller, can actually create something that is meaningful, relevant and unique for each buyer you engage. In an age of empowered buyers, you have to do this to remain competitive. Buyers expect no less.
At first glance, this seems impossible. How can you create something that will be valuable for a person you've never met before? How can you -- without any budget or time -- offer value? What do you have to give that's any different from all the other sellers out there?
The way you conjure value out of thin air is to be there with the buyer, in the moment, human-to-human.
By engaging in a real -- not superficial, not contrived, not self-serving -- conversation, you bring value. By truly listening and seeking to deeply understand what's happening with this buyer at this time, you are doing something that few sellers do. This differentiates you and demonstrates that time spent with you is of value.
This is basic human nature at work. People want to be heard and understood. They don't want to be rushed through a qualifying questionnaire and pitched and closed.
In the B2C space, businesses are investing heavily in creating the ideal Customer Experience. Every touch point and interaction impacts the Customer Experience. It's no different in B2B, other than the burden falling more squarely on to the shoulders of the seller. To create a rich and meaningful Customer Experience, one that is laden with personal value, you have to connect.
The Fastest Way to Create Value Is by Asking Quality Questions
Here's a great way to accelerate that connection and demonstrate the value you bring. Ask questions. Not just any questions, but quality questions that make buyers think and surface new ideas.
Strong, purposeful questions that stimulate though and dialogue are what buyers value most of all.
Buyers are bored by the old standby questions that sellers have used for years to rapidly identify a need that they can pounce on and solve. Buyers are offended by gotcha questions that attempt to entrap them in a quick purchase decision. And buyers are annoyed when sellers don't ask enough questions or drill down to probe and fully understand surface-level responses.
Dialogic Needs Assessment is what buyers crave. They want to be given the full opportunity to describe and discover their own needs. They want to engage in brainstorming and the co-creation of insights that comes from quality questions. Buyers want sellers to more frequently facilitate these kinds of conversations that truly deliver unique, relevant, timely and meaningful value.
Sellers Who Create Value Are the "Sellers of Choice" that Buyers Seek Out Instead of Shunning
Sellers who conduct dialogic needs assessment and connect with buyers in this way enjoy numerous advantages including:
- Sales advance faster from opening more quickly to closing with a shorter sales cycle when sellers ask quality questions.
- Buyers describe sellers who ask quality questions as more trustworthy and more credible.
- Buyers attach high value to the meetings where sellers engage in dialogue and facilitate dialogue that leads to the co-creation of insights.
- Sellers who differentiate themselves by asking quality questions are rewarded with buyer referrals and loyalty.
- When sellers abandon stereotypical selling behaviors and replace them with these leadership behaviors, they report higher levels of self-esteem and confidence about the selling work they do.
Ultimately, these are also the sellers that buyers choose to do business with. Our research with 530 B2B Buyers found that buyers are more likely to take a meeting with a seller who frequently demonstrated these behaviors AND more likely to buy from a seller who frequently demonstrated these behaviors.
It's not nearly has difficult as you may think to create value and differentiate yourself with buyers. It all comes down to some simple behavior modification and learning how to ask quality questions.
Next Steps for Differentiating Yourself by Creating Value for Your Buyers:
Read the book that shows you how to build trust, engage buyers and become the ONE seller that buyers actually WANT to talk to. This bestseller was recently named one of "The 20 Most Highly-Reviewed Sales Books of All Time" by HubSpot!
Learn more about The Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement and our groundbreaking B2B buyer research.
The award-winning CONNECT2Sell Blog is for professional sellers who believe, as we do, that Every Sale Starts with a Connection. Our 2017 emphasis will be on reporting buyer-side research and how sellers can connect with buyers and sell more effectively by adopting the behaviors of leaders. The Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement is all about the future state of sales and your success as a Sales Professional.
Deb Calvert is President of People First Productivity Solutions, a UC Berkeley instructor, and a former Sales/Training Director of a Fortune 500 media company. She speaks and writes about the Stop Selling & Start Leading® movement and offers sales training, coaching and consulting as well as leadership development programs. She is certified as an executive and sales coach by the ICF and is a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®. Deb has worked in every sector and in 14 countries to build leadership capacity, team effectiveness and sales productivity with a “people first” approach. Her bestselling book “DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected” has been named by HubSpot as one of "The 20 Most Highly-Rated Sales Books of All Time."