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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Why Do Sales Reps Have Few at Bats?
What is the Impact of Digital Marketing?

After spending hours scouring the Internet to find the right recliner, we went to one store, sat in three chairs, and made a quick major purchase decision. The sales person just prepared the invoice. B2B customers also rely on their own research, not information from sales reps, when making major purchase decisions says Brent Adamson in “Traditional B2B Sales and Marketing Are Becoming Obsolete.” This means finding new ways to help customers self-educate. This also means integrating marketing, sales, and digital initiatives within your company.

Buyers spend just “17% of their total buying time interacting directly with supplier sales teams,” found the Gartner Group “in pre-pandemic interviews of 750 companies.” Instead, they spend their time on “independent learning online (27%), independent learning offline (18%), and building consensus [among] internal [22%] and partner stakeholders [11%].” Purchasers may only spend 5-6 % of their time per vendor if they research a few vendors, Adamson concludes.

To respond to this shift, get to know customers better, and set up an integrated sales approach:

  • Construct personas or descriptions of representative customer types. For instance, a web design company could develop personas for the biotech and solar energy customers.
  • Interview customers who represent each persona. What do they need from your company?
  • What is their typical purchase process, and who are the gatekeepers in the process?
  • What social media and other channels do they research, and what information do they seek?

Help customers find the information they need:

  • List the steps in your customers purchase process, urges Adamson.
  • Integrate functions so that people who address the same steps in the purchase process can easily work with people in other departments. [Make sure messaging is consistent.]
  • Assign someone to help customers at each step according to expertise, not department.
  • Train staff to work within the new paradigm.
  • Redesign your website so that customers find what they need before making purchases. We saw pictures of recliners, plus the recliners’ measurements before visiting the store.
  • Place company and product information on the platforms your customers access.

Customers do not care how your company is structured. What they want is the right information at the right time. Vendors must first find out what information their customers want and then make that information available where each type of customer will find it. Currently, that is predominantly online. That is why one sales manager told Adamson, “We have very few at bats to actually influence customer buying behavior.”

Actionable Business Insights

Copyright © 3/22 Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.

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