Working with the curious, it helps to nurture, not push.
Next up, John Holland – co-author of the CustomerCentric Selling book
, methodology, and coursework – did a great job as usual putting into perspective what is happening today between buyers and sellers.
According to Holland (and I agree), traditional selling is at odds with today's informed buyer. Especially in B2B sales, buyers more often than not encounter sellers after already learning about their offerings through web sites or third parties – real or web-based. Traditional sellers, however, assume too much about their buyers without asking questions and believe they are the sole experts on what they sell.
Holland says that if we combine the above with the baggage that buyers bring over to B2B relationships from their B2C experiences, we can see why many sales people and teams struggle.
How do we fix things? First, Holland noted that good sellers have to become good sellers on purpose. Next, we have to realize that new buyers crave transparent information – that's why third party sites and referral networks are doing so well. "At the heart of social networking for business is transparent information buyers can get from or about vendors prior to or during the buying experience." This is scary for traditional seller-vendors who have trouble qualifying buyer interest or are behave too pushy towards the "merely curious."
Holland then took a step back to look at how world-class marketing and sales organizations generate leads. It turns out that these companies' sales people are spending most of their time working on active opportunities rather than lead generation.
"World Class sales organizations have 47% fewer leads generated by sales."
– John Holland, CustomerCentric Selling
Instead their leads are generated by marketing and some sort of inside sales/business development group who hand off "hot" leads to quota carriers.
Marketing, however, may be too aggressive in qualifying during "lead generation". Imagine a curious individual at a potential prospect who visits your web site to learn more. This person has just had a rude episode at the electronics store, car lot or with an insurance salesman. This person merely wants a white paper to "see what this is all about," but is turned off by your web site's insistence that he provide an email address and/or phone number in exchange for the download. So, he navigate away not wanting to be bothered by an email or worse, a phone call from a pesky sales guy. You've potentially turned off a prospect.
Is this scenario possible? Happens everyday. I know I've done it as a when merely curious.
School's over, time to get back to work.
Instead, Holland suggests,the best marketers in B2B see their role as nurturing the "curious" so that eventually curiosity becomes an active need.