B2B Sales Techniques That Embrace The Human-Centric Side of Selling
You may be immersed in a jargon-heavy industry, but that doesn’t mean you have to like it. Of course, you need to understand it; that’s a part of your job.
But then you need to push all the jargon you’ve ever learned to the back of your mind and focus on the task on hand.
Because jargon can be problematic.
We don’t feel quite as strongly about it as advertising giant David Ogilvy,
“Our business is infested with idiots who try to impress by using pretentious jargon.”
But it can be alienating and difficult to understand, especially for individuals outside of or new to an industry. And sometimes, jargon is downright misleading.
Take the acronym ‘B2B’ for instance, which stands for ‘business to business’. One could assume by the name alone that there are no humans in business.
Trust us when we say that no B2B sales rep working off of that assumption will get very far!
To succeed at B2B selling, you need to:
- Scrap the jargon, as we already mentioned.
- Shift your mindset and start looking at B2B selling in an entirely different way.
We’ll focus on how to achieve step two a little later. First, let’s explore the difference between B2B sales and B2C sales, which stands for ‘business to consumer’.
What is the difference between B2B selling and B2C selling?
The main, and most obvious difference between B2B and B2C is who is being sold to, but there’s also a distinction between why they’re being sold to.
B2B is the act of selling your product, service, or solution to a business to aid its business operations, while B2C businesses sell to individual consumers in order to meet their personal needs.
Other ways B2B selling differs from B2C selling:
- B2B selling requires more research and planning.
- The sales process is longer, with the buying cycle sometimes lasting for months.
- More is at stake with B2B sales, thanks to higher volumes and bigger budgets.
- B2B sales reps often interact with multiple stakeholders instead of one singular prospect.
- The entire process is inherently more complex, requiring more patience.
- It can be more rewarding too, especially when all your hard work ends in a sale.
There’s also a surprising degree of overlap between B2B and B2C selling:
- The sales process may take longer,
but it’s the same process
- There are more people to win over,
but you can win five people over in the same way you’d win one person over.
- You’ll need to tailor your sales methodology to your B2B prospect,
but you’d tailor it to any prospect regardless, wouldn’t you?
Despite these glaring similarities, there’s a common misconception that B2B selling is fundamentally different from B2C selling.
Let’s call it the B2B sales myth.
What is the B2B sales myth?
The B2B sales myth is the prevailing belief that the distance between ‘consumers’ and ‘businesses’ is much vaster than it is in reality.
As we mentioned at the start of this article, there’s an assumption that the essence of B2B selling requires less of a human element.
But why is that?
You work for a company, right? But you’re not the company. If you’re reading this, you're probably a sales rep, or perhaps a sales manager. More than that, you’re a human being, with loved ones, feelings, opinions, needs, and interests outside of what you do for a living.
So stop thinking of your B2B prospect as a business. Instead work on seeing them the way you see yourself: as a human who happens to work for a business.
Understanding the human element of your prospect’s journey is the key to helping them find a solution to their problem, and the only way you’ll succeed as a B2B salesperson.
Do you already see your B2B prospects as people? Or is there a disconnect between what we’re saying and how you think you’re capable of behaving? If so, you may require a B2B sales mindset shift.
What is this mindset and why does it affect your B2B sales techniques?
Your mindset is the sum of your beliefs, opinions, and thoughts. It’s how you see the world and those around you, and how you see yourself.
Your mindset not only affects how you perceive things but how you react to them, which determines your behavior. How you behave directly affects your results.
Needless to say, mindset is everything. Because without the right mindset, you can’t change your behavior. That’s why behavior change is at the root of Krauthammer’s training methodology.
It’s the only way to get long-lasting results!
How do you shift your B2B selling mindset?
If you shift your mindset and reframe the B2B sales process, applying human-centric B2B selling techniques will start to come intuitively.
- You have to start by mentally adjusting how you see your B2B prospects (as people instead of faceless businesses).
- Then you need to ensure that you approach every step of the journey through a human-centric lens. This can be achieved by consciously reframing the sales process, and maintained through mindfulness, practice, and hard work until it becomes subconscious.
Let’s explore a couple of ways to reframe the B2B sales process:
- Instead of looking at what you’re selling as a product or service, reframe it as solving problems and providing solutions.
- Instead of being annoyed by the countless contacts you need to sift through before getting to talk to the final decision-maker, reframe it as an opportunity to build deeper relationships along the way and learn even more about your prospect's needs and what problems you can help them solve.
- Instead of feeling anxious about the high stakes and the pressure you’re under, reframe it as an honor to be made responsible for such an important account.
At the end of the day, it’s not about prospects and customers or businesses and consumers. And it’s not even about selling. It’s about people – and finding solutions that solve their problems.
Shifting your mindset is a great place to start, but as a salesperson, it doesn’t hurt to have as many tools in your belt as possible.
Below are our top five human-centric B2B selling tips. Approach these techniques with the right mindset and you’re bound to succeed.
The top 5 human-centric B2B sales tips
1. Let empathy be your guide
Remember what we said about mindset? Well, If you approach the sales process with an empathetic mindset you can’t go wrong. You’ll be:
- less likely to slip back into any old habits you’re trying to break and
- more likely to develop a deeper understanding of what your prospect needs.
Because if you’re empathizing, you’re listening (properly and in the present). And if you’re listening, you’re learning – about your prospect, their problems, and the solutions they truly need.
Seth Godin said,
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.”
To do this, you might want to try solution selling – a powerful methodology rooted in empathy. It redirects the narrative away from the ‘what’ and ‘how much’ of your product and towards the ‘why’. This enables a deeper, more nuanced conversation that gets to the root of your customer’s issues.
2. Make friends with everyone, not just the decision-makers
Think you only need to build a rapport with the main decision-maker?
It might be tempting to bypass less powerful points of contact and make a bee-line for the person in charge.
The truth is, the relationships you build with internal influencers will:
- give you a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the company’s needs,
- potentially turn them into advocates for the solution you’re selling,
- and come in handy when it’s time to get an audience with the boss.
3. Learn about your prospect – creatively
We’re not talking about asking all the right questions over a phone call; that’s just a given.
Besides, only 17% of the entire B2B buying process is spent actually meeting with potential suppliers, which means when it comes to digging deeper and learning more about your prospect’s needs and how you can meet them, you’re going to need to get creative.
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Speaking of social media…
4. Discover social selling
Social selling – which is not to be confused with social media marketing – is the practice of using a brand’s social media channels to connect with prospects and potential leads.
57% of B2B buyers now use social media to research vendors, so if you’re not on those same platforms, making yourself available and actively engaging, then you’re sleeping on a massive opportunity.
Social selling also provides an environment that allows you to
- assert yourself as an expert in your field,
- share relevant information that has value,
- and access a greater network than ever before.
Not to mention that if done right, social selling can replace the dreaded practice of cold calling.
5. Trade cold-calling for warm-calling
Do you or any other reps you know like making cold calls? You’re not alone. In fact, 63% of salespeople say that cold-calling is their least favorite part of the job!
If you implement social selling into your process, you can trade in cold-calling for warm-calling – the act of calling a prospect who’s already expressed an interest in your product, service, or solution.
It’s no surprise that when the two are compared, warm-calling comes out on top. Prospects are much happier to engage, which increases your chances of booking a meeting, and if all goes well, closing the sale.
Future-proofing your business to business sales techniques
Want to know a secret? The key to being future-proof doesn’t have anything to do with what B2B sales techniques you employ, and everything to do with who you are as a salesperson.
- lead with a people-first, human-centric approach,
- commit to being adaptable,
- have a proactive attitude
- remain open to embracing change, and
- invest in your professional development and ongoing training,
you’ll be equipped to deal with whatever this constantly evolving industry throws your way – like new sales methodologies such as social selling.
Did you know that LinkedIn has a Social Selling Index (SSI) tool that measures your capability with regards to selling via social channels? Checking where you stand is a great place to start.