The perfect sales storm has arrived

Here’s how sellers can survive a time many have never experienced before.

Finding good statistics on the average age of a B2B seller is difficult. But here’s one thing I’m willing to bet on: Many haven’t seen an economic environment like the one we find ourselves in now. Think about it – apart from the extremely short slump that hit the immediate impact of Covid, the US economy has spent over a decade moving forward.

Money was cheap and demand was high. Yet we have slipped into what looks like the opposite scenario, with inflation numbers not seen in 40 years.

All the things people who sell for a living don’t want to hear. And much of what people who sell for a living have never experienced themselves.

Circumstances have changed and that means salespeople, especially those who have only been in business for a decade or less, need new rules to live by. The most important thing, by far, is simple: find the buyer quickly and cheaply.

As most sellers know by now, the economic buyer is someone who usually appears later in the sales cycle. Before even getting to the person responsible for allocating capital, a seller may face at least three other important people within a business in a typical transaction, often more than once each: the buyer technical buyer who reviews the merits of the solution, the commercial buyer who owns the problem or opportunity, and the terms and conditions buyer responsible for procurement.

The economic buyer has different criteria from all the others. They are laser-focused on ROI. It means you have to be too.

Of course, you can’t disrupt the typical sales cycle without help. Technical and commercial buyers who previously would have been your first and potentially only contacts for days, weeks or even months are still likely to be your first contacts within an organization.

What needs to change now is how you work with them. They are aware of this, they also know how much the terrain has changed. You’ll need their help to bring in the economic buyer earlier, which makes it essential from the start to prioritize questions such as “Who allocates the funds within the organization?” Yet, before you even get to that, do something else first.

As sellers, we need to be crystal clear about how our products or services add economic value. It may seem obvious, but it’s often the work sellers leave to buyers to figure out. It may work in boom times, but it doesn’t work now. When an investment is obvious but the return isn’t, then the “R” in “ROI” will look tiny, while the “I” will look huge.

It was only last year that many companies finally got used to the new routines imposed by Covid. Amid growing economic and geopolitical uncertainty, organizations have adjusted the way they think about investing their money. Many have gone from bold to conservative. When this happens, products and services can go from essential to “We don’t need them” or “We can’t afford them” quite quickly, and the person who decides that is the one you’re struggling with right now. to see.

Think in these terms.

If you previously relied on how your products or services differed from the competition or represented the latest technological breakthrough, simplify your pitch to something more direct and likely to appeal to the economic buyer. Think about how, if your customer bought from you, something economical in his business would decisively benefit.

Calculate it for them and prepare this information from the beginning. Know this inside and out, because if you do your job well – and do it in a different way for these different times – you’ll be able to deliver it to the person that matters much sooner than before.

Sallie R. Loera