How B2B customers do business now
Keeping up with the evolving mindsets and practices of current and potential clients is often a challenge for freelancers operating in the “new economy.” Signing up a good client is not easy, with the tendency not to spend money becoming fashionable. Solo entrepreneurs can only thrive by staying one step ahead of the customer, positioned to neutralize the temptation to keep a project in-house or let it languish and die. Individual entrepreneurs need strategies that generate billable hours. These are the trends that B2B buyers are following now.
A recent survey of employees who make B2B purchases for their organizations by global consulting firm Accenture showed that 94% of buyers (your current and potential customers) research potential solutions for business needs ahead of time, to learn about options and save time. and money.
By the time B2B vendors are contacted (you!), the expected customer has done the initial work. He/she already has an idea of what you and your competitors might offer and a ballpark figure for the cost.
Entrepreneur and marketing expert Danny Wong, co-founder of online menswear company Blank Label, recommends that Solopreneurs recognize the elephant in the room and simply ask their prospects about any research they’ve done and what it might verify or clarify. . .
they are skeptical
Unfortunately, some nasty sales “pros” and Solopreneurs have been known to misrepresent what they sell. As a result, many B2B buyers prefer to shop online and overlook you and me. The practice was recently confirmed by Forrester Research, in a survey that found nearly 60% of B2B buyers preferred to shop independently, without the help of a salesperson.
Demonstrating expertise and appreciation for a prospect’s goals and circumstances, Wong points out, confers credibility and helps build trust, an essential process when competing for assignments or sales. Buyers won’t do business if they don’t trust you. Why should they?
No matter how desperate you are for billable hours, don’t rush the process. Take the time to understand what the customer needs and how or if your products or services can be useful. Avoid being perceived as a pushy salesperson and instead present yourself as a trusted adviser who wants the prospect to appear smart to superiors and other colleagues.
they are not in a hurry
No, it is not your imagination that making a sale takes longer than before. Another study showed that the average B2B sales cycle length increased by 22% over the last five years. While the prospect is working on the accounts of concern, Mr. Wong recommends that he do what he can to stay top of mind and try to keep the project from falling through the cracks. Your main competitor is not one of your rivals, it is the customer’s inertia.
Send information that can support (and speed up) decision making, but don’t overwhelm, manage. Find out about a timeline and deadline for the project and suggest what a reasonable start time might be.
They rely on the advice of anonymous “fellows”
So do you, which is why you search for hotels and restaurants on Trip Advisor and look for a contractor on Angie’s List. Accenture reports that almost 25% of B2B buyers make decisions based almost entirely on information obtained from online “social” rating sites.
If your skill set is on Angie’s List or a neighborhood blog, try to establish a presence on those sites and build the credibility that will help you get hired. LinkedIn and Facebook could come in handy once a potential client has been referred to you by a trusted source and their profile is researched prior to receiving the call. Create a good profile on the social networking sites of your choice and make yourself appear knowledgeable and trustworthy.
Appreciate relevant content marketing
The longer buying cycle gives the advantage to those who produce long-form content: a newsletter or blog, case studies, white papers, or podcasts. An FAQ page added to your website detailing how to do business with you could also be helpful. Unbiased and informative information is the essence of content marketing. Produce your own and position yourself as a qualified expert to get the job done.
Thank you for reading,