"The hardest thing about B2B selling today is that customers don't need you the way they used to."
This opening line from a recent Harvard Business Review article, The End of Solution Sales, hits on an issue that many distributors have been talking about recently. Companies such as Valin Corp. and Rexel have invested a lot of their efforts into their "solutions" as opposed to their products. Much of a salesperson's time is spent on discovering the needs of the customer and then creating a package for them.
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But the authors of the HBR article say that may not be enough anymore.
Customers today are more savvy than ever. They spend a lot of time researching their own needs, and according to a recent study from the Corporate Executive Board, they've already completed nearly 60 percent of the buying process – comparing options from different companies and benchmarking price, among others – before they agree to a sales call. They just want you to provide the solution they already know they want.
So what does that mean for selling? In a follow-up blog to the HBR article, If the Customer is Always Right, You're in Trouble, the authors say the key is teaching the customers "something new and important about their business that they cannot learn on their own."
Your biggest competitor today may not be someone else selling the same products as you; it's the customer's ability to learn for themselves. Are you prepared to provide the information they can't find on the Internet? Are you ready to be the expert rather than just a salesperson?
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