The Internet has seriously upended the relationship between B2B buyers and sellers. A dozen years ago, buyers were much less informed about your company, products, and competitors than they are now. Back then, social media was in its infancy and it was much more difficult to collect vendor information than it is today. There was time for sales reps to engage their prospects in Solution Selling “discovery sessions” because buyers only had a limited grasp on what a potential solution would look like. In many cases, prospects were looking to vendors to assist with problem diagnosis. The seller drove the purchasing process.
According to research performed by the Corporate Executive Board a few years ago, 57% of the purchasing decision is now completed before the purchaser contacts any vendors. Purchasers have quietly collected intelligence from websites, white papers, industry analysts, social media, and peers.
What is the secret of successful sales reps?
So how does a sales rep get ahead of this trend and not passively wait for their demand gen group to pass them a few good leads? One way is to leverage the information bazaar that is the Internet and identify companies that are more likely to be considering solutions like yours. In a 2012 Harvard Business Review article titled “The End of Solution Sales,” Adamson, Dixon, and Toman identify the traits of successful sales reps in this new era of the informed buyer. Successful reps: