5 B2B Buyer Preferences to Know

Shape your social selling strategy with research from LinkedIn about what B2B buyers really want. Learn what over 1500 decision makers and influencers believe is important in a sales relationship.

September 24, 2014


What do B2B buyers really want? That’s the most important question on the minds of all sales professionals and a key part of developing an effective social selling strategy. To learn the answer, LinkedIn and IDC recently surveyed over 1500 decision makers and influencers about how Social Buying Meets Social Selling. This global survey dove deep into what B2B buyers think about sales people and what is important to them in a sales relationship. Read on to discover five new insights LinkedIn and IDC discovered about B2B buyers that you should incorporate into your social selling strategy:

1. Relevance matters

If you’re looking for a way to make B2B buyers 4x more likely to connect with you, know what they do. LinkedIn’s research revealed that only half of B2B buyers contacted by sales professionals are the right person to talk to about new business. Even though it takes more time to research a prospect’s role and decision-making ability, you will achieve better results when you connect with more of the right people. To make sure you are connecting with the right person:

  • Use Lead Recommendations to find buyers of similar positions and at similar companies to your existing clients and prospects.
  • Dive into the profiles of your prospects to learn about their current positions. When you use Sales Navigator, you can see the full profiles of 3rd degree connections, as well as unlock 25 additional profiles each month.

2. Timing is critical

Nearly 64% of B2B buyers appreciate it when a sales person contacts them with relevant information and opportunities.  But when a salesperson contacts a prospect is nearly as important as how they contact them. Since it’s nearly impossible to contact a prospect at the exact right time, plan to make smaller, more- frequent connections instead of one big “perfect timing” sales pitch. Here’s how to frequently contact prospects with information they’re interested in:

  1. Save leads using Sales Navigator so that you can see their activity in your Daily Alerts.
  2. Use the first 15 minutes of every day to scan for opportunities to connect with prospects at your most important accounts.
  3. When a prospect mentions a challenge related to your expertise, reach out. You can:
  • Leave a helpful comment.
  • Link to a blog post or white paper that answers their question.
  • Share a case study of how a company overcame a similar challenge.

 3. Connections open doors

If you want to make a good impression on a new prospect, you’re 22x times more likely to do so if you’re introduced through their professional network. In fact, the higher the level of a buyer, the more likely they are to use their network as a resource for their buying decisions. LinkedIn’s research shows that 63% of C-level/VP-level buyers have asked their online professional networks about vendors in the past year, compared to 56% of all B2B buyers. Here’s how to use your network to connect with prospects:

  • Search TeamLink to find co-workers who are connected to your prospects.
  • Create an ‘Advanced Saved Search’ of your ideal prospects and select 2nd degree relationships as an option. When new people that fit your criteria make a connection with someone you know, LinkedIn will let you know.

4. Insights get you in the door

The fastest way to a B2B buyer’s heart is through engaging their mind. B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage with a sales professional who provides new insights about their business. Insights also make a huge difference when a sales professional contacts a prospect for the first time: they leave an 85x better impression than a cold call. Here are 2 ways to find relevant insights:

  1. Read industry publications to find interesting articles or research to share with your prospects. Many B2B buyers are busy, so they appreciate it when others give them a heads up about research they will be interested in.
  2. If a current client mentions an issue that they face frequently, it’s likely that prospects in similar positions in similar industries have that challenge as well. Work with your marketing team to develop shareable content (such as blog posts or white papers) that addresses those issues.

5. Publishing helps you stand out

LinkedIn found that nearly 90% of B2B buyers are more likely to engage with sales professionals who are viewed as thought leaders in their industry.  A great first step towards thought leadership is to share relevant articles on LinkedIn. Your prospects will appreciate how you’re helping to identify the best content within your industry. If you’re already doing that, the next step is to become a publisher yourself. Every post you publish is shared with your network, and becomes a permanent part of your LinkedIn profile. To easily develop content to publish:

  1. Watch your Daily Alert to see what your prospects are discussing in LinkedIn Groups or in their Status Updates.
  2. When you see a question that you can answer, craft a well-thought-out response.
  3. After responding, spend approximately 30 minutes expanding your answer into a 400 – 700 word blog post with an introduction and conclusion.
  4. Find a relevant image and craft an interesting title.
  5. Publish your post on your LinkedIn profile.

By incorporating those 5 insights about B2B buyers into your social sales strategy, you will develop a great relationship with your prospects and will be top-of-mind when they’re ready to buy.