B2B-buying-habits

How Sales Teams Can Adapt to Major Changes in B2B Buying Habits

The recent economic downturn has significantly changed how B2B buyers think and behave. In order to succeed in the new environment, salespeople must adjust to the new sales environment.

Here are seven ways to deal with the major changes in B2B buying habits.

1) Identify organizations that are still willing to invest in new products during the downturn.

Many organizations are adjusting their budgets in the wake of the downturn. However, not all organizations are reducing their spend. Although most businesses are spending less, a sizable minority say that they plan to spend more. Between 40 and 50 percent of SMBs state that they do not anticipate any changes in their total software spend. In fact, 25 percent of educational organizations even plan to spend more.

These trends mean that salespeople need to be more strategic in targeting organizations. Focus on companies in industries that are not largely impacted by the downturn. Some organizations may still be uncertain about their budgets. Do not write off prospects simply because of uncertainty.

2) Help buyers strategize their long-term spending.

We still do not know how this economic downturn will play out in the long run. Many buyers are being cautious about how their operational costs. They want to know how they can reduce their spending not just now, but for the long haul.

This concern presents an opportunity for salespeople. The key is to understand how your product can help organizations reduce long-term spend. As we’ve previously discussed, there are numerous ways to reduce long-term operating costs. Companies may consider adjusting their benefits structure, cash flow projection, and cash conversion cycle—among many other potential changes. Explain to prospective buyers how your product reduces costs in the long run, and show the data to back up your claims. If you can do this, you successfully reframe the conversation. Buyers will stop thinking “how can we afford this?” and start thinking about the long-term cost savings.

3) Deliver a smooth digital experience that drives buyers to personalized offers

Digital experiences have become increasingly important for B2B buyers. In many ways, COVID-19 is only accelerating a pre-existing trend. Only 18 percent of buyers said they prefer self-service for product evaluation in 2016. By 2019, that figure had increased to 61 percent. 

To capitalize on this trend, you must enable a frictionless and personalized digital experience for your buyers. There are many ways to optimize digital buyer experience:

  • Ensure that your platforms are optimized for mobile. The user experience should be strong across both mobile devices and desktops.
  • Boost your organic traffic so that more potential buyers are coming directly to you.
  • Offer a personalized shopping experience. Your system should be offering customers the products and services that are most relevant to their needs.
  • Serve content that is directly relevant to individual customers.
  • Address any technical issues that arise quickly. You should be continually monitoring your system for potential problems.
  • Create a smooth pathway for buyers to move from self-service to contact with a salesperson.

By improving the digital experience, you can stay relevant to today’s consumers, who are spending more time online than ever before.

4) Create a comprehensive content library for your buyers

Content is essential for digital experience and is also a critical tool for salespeople. Now is the time to make your content library more robust. Your library should include assets that answer all of the most common questions buyers ask during the buying process. If there are gaps in your library, address them.

By taking time to familiarize themselves with the content library, salespeople can then offer the right content to buyers at particular points in the sales cycle. Content is also a great way to begin a conversation and offer value to buyers.

5) Improve elements of your sales messaging and outreach.

Your standard sales pitch may not be the best fit for a downturn. Review all of your messaging to buyers. Does it strike the right tone for our current moment? How well does it address the pain points and challenges that your buyers are currently experiencing? Your messaging probably needs at least a few tweaks. In some cases, a total overhaul might be necessary.

Brainstorm all of the challenges that your customers are facing right now, drawing from conversations with existing conversations. Re-craft your messaging so that it speaks directly to those challenges.

6) Optimize the purchase process to your customer’s current purchasing abilities.

Buyers aren’t just changing their budgets during a downturn. They may also be altering their buying process. For example, the process of receiving approval for purchasing decisions may take longer for many customers. In order to sell successfully, you need to be aware of these changes and effectively address them.

Assess which elements of your buyers’ journeys have changed. How can you better support your buyers during this process? What new challenges are they experiencing that might slow down the sales cycle? You may need to streamline certain elements of the sales cycle in order to alleviate these challenges and better meet your buyers’ needs.

7) Explain how your product can help organizations adjust to remote work 

Right now, we aren’t simply mired in a downturn, we are also having to reorganize the ways in which we work. In many cases, salespeople can use our changing work environments to their advantage. Talk frankly with stakeholders at target companies about the challenges they’re currently facing. This can be incorporated into a strong sales pitch. Salespeople want to successfully position your solution as a unique asset in our current work environment.

Even though we’re in a downturn, B2B salespeople can still succeed by adapting their approach. By acknowledging the new realities, your team can increase their chances of success.

James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.