I don’t know about you, but I’m relieved to see high-pressure selling tactics tossed in the trash of history. The prevailing thinking was that the only way to succeed was to speak fast, instill fear, and constantly push towards the end.
None of this is conducive to a great experience for buyers or salespeople.
We all know there are still a few of these people out there in sales – but I bet most of them don’t make it to the quota. Shift the balance of power in the sales relationship towards the buyer. If they don’t like your style, it’s easy for them to find another actor who gets it right.
For LinkedIn’s latest report, Buyers First: A New Era in Selling, we surveyed more than 10,000 sales professionals and decision makers, and combined their answers with millions of data points from the LinkedIn platform. The results agree that: Buyers are looking for a trusted advisor, someone who brings value and develops a relationship.
for example, 90% of C-suite executives surveyed said they would not respond to an impersonal sales pitch. Instead, they only choose people they already know and trust.
How can you ensure that your sales approach puts buyers first? Start by eliminating these five phrases from your vocabulary.
Each of the following sentiments are part of the outdated selling mindset that we need to develop further away from.
1. “What exactly does your company do, and what does your role entail?”
Let’s start with an easy one.
You are coming to the potential client to prove that you are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and invested in their success. If you start the conversation asking for information that you can easily look up yourself, it can damage your credibility from the start.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to find out what a company does, what its needs are, whether it’s expanding or acquiring other business, and more. You can check their company’s LinkedIn page for updates, and set notifications on Sales Navigator for major account updates.
Armed with the right information, you can skip a lot of figuring out and come to a solution.
Say instead: Bring something specific to the conversation, such as: “I saw you’re acquiring Company X, and wanted you to know that we can help make sure everything is 100% compatible between your systems…”
2. “I just wanted to check in…”
Friends check in with each other to see what they’re doing. Hotel staff check in people who are staying in their establishment. Salespeople should never “check in only”.
We all know it: For a buyer, what it’s really saying is, “I just wanted to know if I was ready to buy yet.” She asks for their attention without offering anything in return; Contrary to the buyer first mentality.
Part of developing a healthy purchasing relationship is investing in their success other than offering your company a solution. Keep an eye out for helpful articles, news stories, blog posts or videos — anything you can share that will help a potential client do their job better or impress their boss.
Say instead: “I saw this blog post and thought about your company – I hope this tip will be of use to you!”
3. “Our solution is X, Y and Z compatible. Does that meet your needs?”
We’ve all been caught up in a conversation with someone who only wants to talk about themselves. It’s a situation that we usually try to escape from as quickly as possible. The sales equalizer drives your solution rather than the customer’s problems.
As we put it: “Solve, don’t sell.”
In combination with entry #1, you can flip the statement and lead the problem. “I see your company is losing revenue because your contact forms are down. What if you could automatically respond to most of these inquiries, and then have your most promising leads delivered straight to your inbox?”
It’s a much more effective conversation starter than, “Our solution can speed up response time by 53.3%.”
Say instead: “I understand that your needs are X, Y, and Z. What would you do for the business if those needs were met?”
4. “Oh, let’s stop pricing now…”
Salespeople know that price can be a sticking point for B2B sales. We much prefer getting the purchase agreement first, with the confidence that the solution is worth its price, and then talking about the money after the deal is over.
Of course, we can’t really get there – money is something for nearly every company. Every buyer has a budget. Delaying the price conversation damages credibility and makes it difficult to build trust.
In the State of Sales 2021 report, 82% of buyers described complete transparency about pricing as “important” or “very important” seller behaviors. Answer cost questions accurately and honestly, then explain why the solution is worth the investment.
Say instead: “Here’s our price sheet with all our subscription levels. Now let’s talk about how to meet your needs.”
5. “I can only guarantee this price if we close today…”
In the dream world of B2B sales, every deal will be closed at the end of the first potential call. We’ve all spent time in the trenches of a long sales cycle, and may well have been the envy of the arms of old people who would pile on the pressure until the deal was done.
But it is necessary for the buyer to sell first to undo this pressure. Now, that doesn’t mean we switch from “we always close” to “never close.”
It doesn’t mean that you sit and wait for a potential customer to find their way to the decision. But that means respecting their process and schedule and providing value rather than adding pressure.
One good way to keep things going: Equip the prospect with what they need in order to impress internal stakeholders. This means coordinating with your marketing department to make sure you have a content library that you can opt out of.
Say instead: “I know this is a big decision and you will likely have a lot of people to convince. We have a few different brochures that speak directly to people in different roles – I can pass them on to you, or directly to other stakeholders if you wish. I sincerely believe that Your team will lose some big chances if you delay.”
The Takeaway – Talk to buyers on their terms.
True, there are still a few old school salespeople out there who put up good numbers. But the new generation of buyer-first sales professionals will eventually leave them in the dust.
If you put the buyer’s conditions and needs first, you are adapting your selling approach to meet the emerging demand. You build relationships, provide value, and establish trust and credibility.
Not only does this result in more closed deals, but more repeat business and referrals. Over time, you may even see buyers start looking for you, rather than the other way around.
Looking for more tips on how to align your sales methodology with the next generation of buyers? Head over to LinkedIn Learning for our course on sales strategies and approaches in the new world of selling.