In B2B Business Development, good 1st conversations with buyers are the key to having more ‘next conversations’. It’s easy to say, but can be hard to do. Here’s why, and some things you can do about it.
It’s often a struggle for sales teams to win initial conversations with target buyers. It requires defining an Ideal Customer Profile. Once defined, it requires finding prospects to call on who match that profile. Once ideal prospects to call on are found, it’s often hard to win conversations with those prospects. When all of these hurdles get conquered, and conversations do occur, odds are that next conversations with these same target buyers won’t ever occur again.
Why? Executive buyers and sellers are ‘dis-connecting’ in conversations more often than they’re ‘connecting’. Buyers are looking for solutions to their problems. Sellers are championing the features and benefits of their offerings.
Research from Forrester shows that only 13% of executive buyers say sellers can clearly show they understand their business issues and articulate a way to solve them. It’s an uncomfortable situation for everyone. @ScottSantucci describes sales conversations as the ‘last mile of sales effectiveness’ and says it’s fraught with colossal, fixable, mistakes.
From what we’re seeing, the path to better requires better initial conversations. Initial conversations that are ‘smarter’, and more relevant, for both buyers and sellers. Some useful suggestions, via TED, from a couple of comics [@chriscolin3000 and @robbaedeker] on how to turn small talk into big ideas:
First, look for stories, not answers.
Second, break ‘boring conversation’ mirrors. Instead of simply echoing back something you’ve heard, pair it with some ridiculous metaphor that lightens things up and lets your buyer see that you’re human. Or at least you have a brain that’s working.
Third, leapfrog over expected responses. Don’t be scripted; be genuinely interested in the buyer, and situationally adept at helping them share with you ‘their story’.
When you do a better job of understanding a buyer’s situation, you’ll witness a surprising effect. Buyers won’t just engage with you in conversations. They’ll do so repeatedly. Unexpectedly. And in larger chunks of time than either they, nor you, would normally predict.
There’s a tremendous hunger out there, with executive buyers, for productive business conversations with folks who can solve seemingly intractable problems. It starts with smarter initial conversations.
Try these comics’ tips to facilitating them.