The HubSpot Research portal has an interest article from 2016 that I felt is 100% relevant to Automotive B2B companies in 2018. Here's a summary of the article and my thoughts on how this applies to business owners.
Buying behaviour has changed
One of the the biggest challenges with future growth is the change in the way that people buy. For this post, I'm talking about the way B2B decision makers in Automotive buy products and services and most specifically products and services that vehicle manufacturers need or are sold through dealers and distributors.
Technology has changed the way people buy and the majority of a buyer's journey is done without ever contacting a sales person. Websites, social media, and online publications hold a huge amount of content that buyers use when researching products and services. From the ideal customer research we conduct for our clients, we also know that engineers are a key decision maker and they rely a lot on social media as well as talking to their peers before making a decision.
So, buyer behaviour has changed but have your sales people changed the way they sell?
Is sales getting harder?
The idea of “sales is getting harder” should be closer to “traditional sales tactics are losing their efficacy”. Why? Because most sales people in Automotive are still selling the way they did 10 or even 20 years ago. They're not updating their sales process, they're not using modern tools that save time and make it easier to sell, and they're not researching each prospect and adding value.
Buyers are in charge of the sales process
Research shows that searching online, visiting websites, attending events, and reading newsletters are the top ways that buyers research products and services.
It's also interesting to see that research shows that buyers are less and less dependant on sales people:
There's also a big disconnect in what buyers and sales want to discuss:
So it's time for sales people to take a step back and LISTEN to what buyers really want:
A significant improvement in sales performance can come from switching sales people from talking to listening. It always astonishes me how many sales people rattle off the same generic pitch, over and over, and end up being the one that talks and talks. We've seen far better results in asking questions and listening. With the right set of questions, you'll be surprised at the amount of information you can learn about a prospect and you'll often hear exactly how your prospects wants to be sold to. Then you can change from a generic pitch to a consultative sale that is 100% relevant to each prospect.
A good set of questions to start with are:
- Can you give me the 30 second overview on your business?
- Who is your target market?
- Who are your competitors?
- What is it that separates you from the competition, your special sauce so to speak?
- How do you fit into your industry?
- What is your average sale price?
- What are you finding is the biggest challenge to meeting your goals?
- What is the biggest bottleneck in your production process? And your design process?
And, if you get the question 'what are you trying to sell me', instead of reeling off your same old elevator pitch try a Hero statement or Positioning statement that ends in a question. When we get asked 'what do you do' we might use our Hero statement:
We’re a business growth agency that helps Automotive companies in the UK with at least 10 people and a desire to grow by 15% in the next 18 months through lead generation, customer acquisition, and client engagement. Does that sound like you?
This shows that we're targeted, we know the main benefit, and ending with a question keeps the conversation moving forward.
Or, if we get 'not interested' or 'what are you trying to sell me', instead of a generic reply about our services, we'll pick a relevant Positioning statement such as:
I regularly speak to business owners (like you) who can’t track the ROI of their sales and marketing activities and are generally unsure what activity generates the most revenue such as from their website and marketing content. They’d like to get more leads and sales but are unsure the best place to invest. IS THAT APPLICABLE TO YOUR SITUATION? (pause, pause, pause)
Then we listen and learn. Pausing is the bit that sales people can't do, but learning to pause will help you understand your prospects so your pitch is relevant to them.
How to transform your sales approach
Buyers expectations of sales are low. Salespeople can certainly beat those expectations by adopting an inbound sales strategy and maybe delight the buyer in the process.
Thanks to HubSpot for the original research.