Sales Strategy: 23 Facts about Buyers and Purchasing

Smarten up your sales strategy by learning these 23 facts about business buyers and how they purchase.

August 24, 2014

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The More You Know PSA campaign started back in 1989. Yes, it's been running that long, which is why that closing jingle with the comet trail star logo has been permanently etched into the minds of generations of NBC viewers. The sheer volume of The More You Know parodies lends credibility to the tagline's staying power.

It's a brilliantly simple campaign with an equally simple premise: the more informed you are on what matters, the better off you'll be.

For sales people, the ability to form meaningful connections with potential buyers is of the utmost importance. So it's only natural that the more we know about the buyers we're trying to engage, and how they make buying decisions, the better off we'll be, right?

The following list of 23 facts about buyers and purchasing was compiled to help ensure your sales strategy is a well-informed one. Because today, the most informed rep usually wins. Feel free to hum the, The More You Know jingle after each fact.

1.) In a typical firm with 100 - 500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions (Gartner Group)

Takeaway: Multi-threading is an essential sales tactic today. Use the LinkedIn platform to develop a buyer map for your key accounts.

2.) The early bird gets the worm. Fifty percent of sales go to the first salesperson to contact the prospect (InsideSales.com)

Takeaway: Use social listening to uncover new opportunities before the competition does.

3.) Buyers are moving away from industry publications. Adoption as an information source is down 17%. (TriComB2B and the University of Dayton)

Takeaway: Buyers are using online sources like social media and blogs to get their information, and that’s where you need to be.

4.) Visuals are processed 60,000x faster than text. (Neo Mammalian Studios)

Takeaway: Enhance your sales presentations, emails and social updates with compelling visuals.

5.) After a presentation, 63% of attendees remember stories. Only 5% remember statistics. (Authors Chip and Dan Heath)

Takeaway: Although data can lend credibility and offer proof, stories are what attract prospects and move deals through the initial stages of the pipeline.

6.) You are 70% more likely to get an appointment on an unexpected sale if you join LinkedIn Groups. (Steve Richard, Co-Founder of Vorsight)

Takeaway: You heard the man, join LinkedIn Groups. That’s where your buyers are. Did you know you can join up to 50 Groups? Here are some tips to help you use LinkedIn Groups to make sales.

7.) Ninety-one percent of customers say they'd give referrals. Only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals (Dale Carnegie)

Takeaway: Create a referral-generating system that kicks in every time your work leads to a satisfied customer.

8.) In 2007 it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today [2013] it takes 8 attempts. (TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group)

Takeaway: Cold calling died in 2013, so don’t do it. Use LinkedIn instead for a more effective, more satisfying selling experience.

9.) The average salesperson only makes two attempts to reach a prospect. (Sirius Decisions) Eighty percent of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.

Takeaway: Persistence pays, literally, when it comes to selling. Luckily you can learn how to become more persistent.

10.) Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group)

Takeaway: Maintain patience and keep providing value when leads aren’t quite ready to buy. Use lead nurturing tactics to make warm leads hot.

11.) Seventy percent of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems. Thirty percent make decisions to gain something. (Impact Communications)

Takeaway: Spouting potential benefits is less effective than taking time to gain a deep understanding of your prospect’s problem(s). Learn how to become a better listener and you’ll become a better problem solver by default.

12.) Ninety-two percent of all customer interactions happen over the phone. Eighty-five percent of customers report being dissatisfied with their phone experiences. (Salesforce)

Takeaway: The best way to deliver pleasant experiences over the phone is through sales practice.

13.) Seventy-eight percent of sales people using social media outsell their peers. (Forbes)

Takeaway: Use social media, outsell your peers. Here’s Your 8-step Guide to Making Social Selling Happen.

14.) A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is – It is what consumers tell each other it is. (Intuit Founder Scott Cook)

Takeaway: Transform your LinkedIn profile into a powerful personal branding platform to give potential buyers a stellar first impression, an impression they will share with others.

15.) By the year 2020, 85% of the buyer-seller interaction will happen online through social media and video. (TeleSmart Communications)

Takeaway: This social selling thing isn’t going away, folks.

16.) Eighty percent of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology. (Gartner Group)

Takeaway: Yes, social selling is more tech-involved by nature, but for it to be effective, building relationships must be the primary goal.

 17.) Forty percent of B2B buyers say LinkedIn is important for researching technologies and services to purchase. The next highest social channel is at 19%. (Social Media Today)

Takeaway: Prioritize social messaging on LinkedIn over other social networks to find more B2B buyers.

18.) Fifty-four percent of B2B buyers begin their buying process with informal research about business problems; nearly 80% of the time spent researching is done online. (B2B Marketing)

Takeaway: When establishing your online presence, be where your buyers are researching.

19.) Sixty percent of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it. (iMedia Connection)

Takeaway: Get your best branded content in front of B2B prospects and they’ll feel better about you and your company.

20.) Buyers respond more favorably to personalization. Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%.

Takeaway: Make it clear that your one-to-one online messages, whether they are emails or strategic InMails, are thoughtfully crafted for your recipient. Learn when and how to write InMail messages that get noticed.

21.) Personal value has 2x as much impact as business value does, and 71% of B2B buyers who see personal value will purchase a product. (CEB)

Takeaway: When making your business case, be sure to also emphasize the personal value your solution offers to the various stakeholders. Connect with buyers on an emotional level to win more sales.

22.) Seventy percent of B2B executives use smartphones and tablets to look up product or service information upon first learning of an offering. Thirty-three percent say they are still referencing information from their mobile devices when a purchase decision needs to be made. (Forbes)

Takeaway: Make sure your online presence is mobile-friendly. Everything you do on LinkedIn functions seamlessly across desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

23.) Price still matters, but it’s becoming less important with 59% of survey respondents (down from 64% in 2011) saying the most important factor in their purchasing decision was immediate purchase price. (TriComB2B and the University of Dayton)

Takeaway: Price is always associated with a value, always. The value you add is what sets you apart from other sales pros with similar offers.

Your assignment: make an adjustment to better align your sales strategy with just one insight from this list. For example, to form a lasting impression with your prospects, you might turn to current clients and company case studies for compelling stories you can use to engage new prospects.

Save this post and continue to modify your sales strategy after you’ve successfully mastered each new tactic. Why just one thing for now? Because a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The more you know.

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