This Week’s Big Deal: Mastering Buyer Enablement in B2B Sales
February 25, 2019
Do you remember opening a CD case to read music lyrics? How about watching movie credits to learn actors’ names? Or, for that matter, cracking open an encyclopedia?
It’s strange to think those dark ages existed within a millennial’s lifetime. Now, with the internet at arm’s reach at all times, any individual can instantly answer any question, or research any topic. The entirety of human knowledge is ours for the browsing.
The natural result, from a sales perspective, is the emergence of self-driven buyers who need less hand-holding than ever before. In fact, they often resent overeager assistance. As digitally native millennials come to represent more and more of the B2B decision-making population, this reality only sets in further.
As such, it’s no surprise that among his rundown earlier this month of the top four trends B2B sales leaders must address in 2019, Gartner’s Scott Collins called out this one: “Enabling buyers becomes a critical commercial strategy.”
Since customers no longer follow the same linear path to purchase they once did, organizations need to deviate from the traditional marketing-to-sales handoff. “Our data tells us that customers engage with both sellers and a supplier’s Website as they complete all their buying jobs,” says Collins.
He adds that “we need to shift to a parallel commercial strategy where sales and marketing align to help customers complete their critical buying jobs.”
Let’s take a look at how to make that happen.
Why Buyer Enablement Matters Today
I’m not going to say “buyer enablement is the new sales enablement,” because sales enablement is hardly fading in importance; quite the contrary. But sales teams should start treating both with the same gravity. They are essential differentiators in modern selling.
Gartner defines buyer enablement as “the provisioning of information that supports the completion of critical buying jobs.” I’d simplify it to this: Buyer enablement is giving prospects what they need to make good decisions – ideally, without feeling pressured or unduly influenced.
“Part of buyer enablement means equipping the internal champion to do the selling for you,” according to Consensus. If you can provide a key stakeholder with the right content and resources, ultimately guiding them toward your solution without excessive nudging, they are going to feel much more confident in the decision. They’ll also have an easier time selling their own colleagues on said solution, because they can make a more objective and data-driven case.
It’s kind of like that movie Inception, where covert operatives enter people’s minds to plant ideas, except less devious and far less complicated. (I’m still trying to untangle that plot nine years later, to be honest.)
Gartner offers this helpful graphic illustrating the various functions and roles in a buyer enablement strategy:
Enabling Buyers and Earning Good Will
We all know that selling is hard, but we should also recognize that buying is hard. People who are tasked with making important business purchases are under a lot of pressure to get it right. These decision makers will appreciate a helping hand – if it’s actually helpful.
Here are a few tips for enabling buyers to make good decisions, while also subtly nudging them toward your solution (which is – obviously – the best decision).
Available through Sales Navigator, PointDrive creates a frictionless experience for delivering buyer content. You can package up assets on a customized landing page, and direct someone there with a simple dedicated URL.
It might be helpful to have a general “Buyer Resources” PointDrive on hand that includes a listing of options, popular third-party review sites, feature comparisons, and more. You can share this link off-the-bat with new prospects as a launching point. So long as the information inside doesn’t come off as extremely biased or one-sided, it’s a good way to build initial trust and express genuine intentions.
Track Content Sharing Patterns
Another advantage of using PointDrive for sharing buyer enablement content is that you can track which items are being engaged with, as well as whom they’re being shared with.
If you notice that particular PDFs or videos are being opened more frequently, it’s a sign of usefulness. And if you see a recipient share a particular content piece with a colleague, you can make deductions about how to help that individual going forward. (For example: “I saw you checked out that article on conversation intelligence technology. Here’s another one from another source with added perspective and newer data. Let me know if you have any questions, I geek out over this stuff.”)
Work with Marketing to Ensure Your Website is a Robust Resource
Statistics show that today’s B2B buyer spends only 17% of their time engaging with vendors, compared to 45% researching independently. As such, it’s vital to ensure those independent touch points are working for you. Your website is a big piece of that puzzle.
Does it offer easily accessible resources for visitors in various stages of the purchase cycle? Is information presented clearly and concisely? Are there prominent opportunities to take a next step and reach out?
Many of these same considerations apply to your company’s LinkedIn Page, another spot where prospects frequently land on their research paths. These assets might fall under marketing’s purview, but sales should absolutely have a say in how they’re constructed.
Be Straightforward with Weaknesses
Acknowledging the flaws or shortcomings of your own offering is a delicate matter. The reasons to avoid it are obvious, but when done right, it can be an excellent way to establish trust and honesty. No product or service is perfect, or perfectly suited for everyone.
The ideal scenario for this is when you can transparently call out a weakness in your solution that isn’t going to be a dealbreaker for the specific person or account you’re engaging. For instance: “We don’t support Feature X because we’ve really been focused on making Feature Y, which is right in your team’s wheelhouse, the best it can be,” or “Small businesses don’t always see the value in this package, because its main purpose to is to be scalable for an enterprise like yours.”
When a buyer understands the drawbacks of going with your solution, they’ll feel more equipped to make their own solid and informed decision at the end of the day. And if they receive that information from you, instead of having to dig up complaints on a review site or hear it from competitors, they’ll be more likely to view you as a trusted advisor.
When buyers win, you win. That’s the fundamental mindset behind buyer enablement and it’s one that will separate the best B2B sellers going forward.
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