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B2B MARKETING & SALES CHALLENGES – TODAY’S REALITY

b2b marketing and sales challengesAlthough we are still been mired in a slow period of growth for over five years, many B2B companies are finally starting to realize that they must start buying again in order to grow. However, as all of us understand, who have been through a number of downturns and recessions, things will change. But first we have to grow out from under this horrendous debt that many companies and people have amassed.

There are many things that you need to understand about B2B selling in turbulent economic times. The old ways don’t work anymore. But, there is one old axiom that does still work. People are still people, and if you have been approaching people all along, with the principles of B2B marketing and sales, then you will keep succeeding.

Nevertheless, you need to be even more diligent in practicing the right principles, in order to succeed. The good news is that these principles are ageless, and will help you generate more business in the future.

Here are some of the major factors you need to understand in order to grow your business, as we move forward into prosperity.

New B2B Selling Environment

The world changes, especially in a recession. Although some of these factors apply at any time, they are particularly true today, especially following a large economic downturn, as we have just been through, and still realizing.

There are more decision makers involved in any B2B buying decision that you offer to your prospects. This is even true for your current clients, as each new decision is starting a fresh sale.

Time to close increases dramatically, especially in a recession, or a slow period. Not only are there more decision makers, but you have to wait until they can justify spending the money for your products/services. This makes it even more imperative that you sell value, instead of features and hours spent.

• During more difficult economic conditions, the B2B buying decision moves upward in your prospects/clients organization. Depending on the size of the budget, your proposal may even have to go to the Board of Directors.

• During recessionary times, budgets are cut dramatically, and in many cases there is no discretionary budget available for anything. This is why you need to demonstrate value for what you are selling. You cannot demonstrate features. You need to dig into the emotional side of any situation, and discover what makes that particular individual move on projects.

There has been a significant increase in Random Events. If any of these events are happening within your prospects’ or clients’ organizations, you can bet that they won’t be looking at anything new, until these major factors are completed. These events can include;
• Mergers & Acquisitions
• Reorganizations
• New Industries
• New Management
• Global Terrorism
• Record low interest rates, going lower
• And many, many more

Clients are demanding “Custom Made” Solutions – A “One Size Fits All” Solution is out.
• Clients want longer term relationships with their vendor’ sales people and with their supplier companies.
• They also demand much better client service than most companies give. This is just a starting point for doing business in most markets.

Increased Competition. Whether you believe it or not, there is a lot more competition than you probably realize, and there is always some company who is selling strictly on price. If you compete on price for your business, then you will probably be undermined, sooner rather than later, by a company that can undercut you at any price point.

Clients are not as Loyal. This follows on from the point above. Your clients are being constantly bombarded with better, and often, cheaper offers. They will eventually listen to the competition, if you are not constantly showing your clients and prospects the value you are bringing them.

Everyone is extremely “busy”, and does not have time to see you or return calls. How many phone calls do you return a day, by someone you barely know, unless it is a prospect or client? With call display, and voice mail, people will not answer the phone from someone they don’t know. You probably don’t either. You need to find a way to reach your clients and prospects so that they will talk to you. You need to sell value.

So, if everyone is so busy, and it takes forever to get a decision made, how can you reach your prospects and clients, so they will listen to you? Well, I can’t stress enough how important it is to sell value.

Client’s Buying Guide

BUILD TRUSTWhat do clients want from their vendor community? I want to make one thing clear here. If you are considered a vendor, rather than a trusted partner to a client, then your client’s expectations aren’t quite as high. Also keep in mind that many clients aren’t ready to have you as a trusted advisor, and it may take years to attain that status, if ever.

Having said all of that, what do your clients want from you as a vendor? There are three main areas you must develop.

1. Clients want an adequate solution
• Your clients want a solution that solves the problem as promised, not inferior or barely suitable. When you are resolving issues for your clients, you don’t have to offer state-of-the-art solutions. You will find that most clients don’t want this for many reasons, including cost, disruption to their business, etc. Give them a solution that works for them in this particular instance, but make it a good solution that has some staying power, or you won’t get repeat business.

2. A trusted consultant
• Your clients want a consultant and a company they can trust. And building that trust can take time. They also want a consultant who has their interest at heart. Although using a reference may get you in the door, your clients want a solution that is built for them, not the same solution you gave to another company.

3. Added value products and services
• All clients expect that the solution you offer will add value to their business. Otherwise, they probably won’t do business with you. However, many times you are expected to not just meet expectations, but many times you are expected to exceed those expectations as well. This is what added value means. So look for ways that you can help your client in other areas. This will also help build that trusted relationship you want with your clients.

As you can see, there are many factors affecting the way B2B clients buy in today’s fast paced environment. It is imperative to understand these B2B buying principles to make your life easier, and to make the sales cycle shorter.

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