"Whoever is in a hurry, shows that the thing he is doing is too big for him."
—The Earl of Chesterfield
For as long as anyone can remember, salespeople have been trained to identify their prospective clients’ problems and their implications. This sales strategy has been part of B2B sales processes and is practiced by sales reps in many sales organizations. This strategy is still effective, as recognizing the prospective buyer's pain points allows for a good and effective sales conversation. But by rushing the deal to get to the pain points, you break B2B selling and buying.
If you agree with the idea that you need to know or elicit your buyer's pain, then you must also agree that it is your responsibility to address their problems and challenges, and the implications of those. What if your B2B buyer has a set of pain points that needs your attention before you can process the pain points you are accustomed to resolving?
One of the primary differences between the modern and legacy sales approaches is that the modern sales approach recognizes and addresses the buyer's problems and challenges. The bad news is that most salespeople don't address the problems of buying and making change, and failing to do so causes buyers to look elsewhere for help. The good news is, by helping your buyer with problems related to making a purchase decision and implementing change, you increase your chances of solving the other problems that cause a prospective client to buy your product or service.
Your Buyer's Lack of Experience
Because you sell your company's offerings every day, you have the experience that your B2B buyer is missing. We describe this idea as being One-Up, meaning you have greater knowledge and experience than your buyers. This makes your contact One-Down, lacking the information and experience that would ensure they make the right decision.
Imagine you are an executive responsible for improving some strategic outcome that causes a productivity pain point. The last time the company made a significant change was almost 11 years ago. You are responsible for getting this right, and you worry that a wrong decision will harm your position, embarrass you, and cause you to miss out on growth opportunities. Because you already know what your potential B2B customer needs to do to improve their results, you can easily start a conversation about the problems and pain points. Without educating your contacts about these key topics, you create uncertainty, which is the opposite of what your client is looking for. If you fail to address the pain points related to the buying process, you can forget about closing deals.
The customer journey removes your buyer from being One-Down by making them a subject matter expert throughout the sales conversation. Your sales champion needs you to help them be One-Up as it pertains to this decision.
Understanding Problems and the Root Causes of Buyer's Pain Points
It's easy to identify the problem without ensuring you have identified the root cause, or more likely, root causes. In one industry I spent time selling in, the presenting problem wasn't always the client's real problem. Addressing the presenting problem would leave the client’s underlying pain points unaddressed. In this industry, my clients would complain about the lack of quality of their workforce. With two questions, it was possible to identify and surface the root causes of the pain points of not having a productive workforce. The first question was what they paid. The second question was how people were treated.
No decision-maker wants to make a change if it won’t improve their results. The salesperson who marches straight to solving their contact's problem without exploring root causes may win the client's business. However, the client won’t experience the better results they expected. Unless root causes are addressed, the ink on the contract won't be dry before the client fires the company and starts over. Hope your competitors’ discovery is weak.
When you don't provide your client with an understanding of the root causes of their problems, you allow two major problems to harm your relationship. First, you expose your client to a mistake that will cause them to fail. This will cause your company to fail to deliver the better results your client needs.
How to Help Buyers Make a Good Decision
Let's assume that we call someone a decision-maker because they make decisions. If a person is a decision-maker, how might they need help from B2B salespeople? If you answered, "Making a good decision," move to the front of the class.
We can tie this idea with the prior section, as everything we have discussed here is about enabling buyers and companies to make good decisions. Once you have identified the customer pain points, your contact needs your help to identify the factors that will impact their future results. In a sales scenario about pay rates and work culture issues, these factors weigh heavily on results. You need to provide your sales champion and their stakeholders with the factors they need to consider and how to weight each one in a way that best resolves their pain points.
Salespeople who don't recognize there are pain points around buying lose opportunities, even if they understand the prospective client's financial pain points. These salespeople can safely remove opportunities from their sales funnel, as soon as they realize their qualified lead will not entertain a second meeting.
How to Succeed in the Buyer's Journey
There are two types of salespeople. The first believes the salesperson knows how to pursue their buyer's journey. The second believes they should use their vantage point to lead their contacts, ensuring their clients succeed in their buyer's journey. Buyers struggle to buy and after they do there are two reasons they experience buyer’s remorse:
- Buyers Research: Buyers avoid salespeople because they rarely find it valuable. Instead, they research on their own, treating a complex B2B purchase like buying a television from Best Buy. Information isn't insight, experience, perspective, or expertise, all of which would require a salesperson with a value-creation strategy, one that delivers a better B2B sales experience, and one that prevents buyer's remorse.
- Traditional Sales Approaches: The traditional problem-pain-solution approach to B2B sales is inadequate for the challenge of buying, even if you follow your sales process steps. This approach is often too fast, and it leaves your contacts behind.
To win more B2B deals, start by recognizing that your buyers have pain points around the purchase process, and they need you to address them. The better you do so, the more value you create for your contacts in the sales conversation. By creating value and certainty around the buying process, the greater the odds you’ll win the client's business.