While the approach to B2B sales has evolved over the years, the December 2019 Lessons From Leaders panel of business leaders agreed that building relationship with customers is still a key component.

One thing was abundantly clear; relying on email communication alone to reach customers is not going achieve positive results.

DECEMBER’S PANEL

Chris Evans
EVP of Marketing and Business Development, Eagle’s Flight
Joseph Fung
CEO at Kiite (via video)
Michael Henley
Partner, Miller Thomson LLP
Michael Litt
CEO and Co-founder, Vidyard
Lara Swift
COO and Co-founder, Swift Labs
Jo Anne Watton
CEO, UT Comp

Access to Decision Makers

Previously, a top-down approach ensured sales staff connected with decision makers either within the procurement team or executive suite. “CMOs are no longer involved in the sales process,” said Michael Litt. “People inside the organization are choosing the software they want to use to solve problems.” This has transformed the business model he added.

With some companies outsourcing their procurement, sales teams are no longer leveraging personal connections. “Now, we are dealing with outside procurement who don’t understand our business or our customers,” said Jo Anne Watton. “Getting approvals takes so much longer. We are now paying another company to manage those relationships.”

I think about who I want to connect with, explained Michael Henley, then I ask for an introduction.

How do you stand out among competitors?

Research your competitors and compare your brand presence to theirs. “Consider the human being deciding about your product. It’s important to humanize and establish your brand,” advises Litt. He suggests ensuring the story of your passion and team is evident on your website. While optimizing for SEO, SEM and conversion is important, Litt says, we need to interject personality into our brand making sure content is valuable and educational not just salesy.

Watton also advises to choose re-sellers carefully and ensure they share your vision.

Significant trade shows are a great way to make initial connections according to Lara Swift. “Opportunities to be an exhibitor for a government or trade mission can set you apart.”

With the pace of business exponentially increasing, Chris Evans says customers are better informed but sometimes overwhelmed. “We are no longer doing transactional sales,” Evans said. “We are integrating with multiple partner vendors to provide solutions to customers. It’s exciting and challenging.”

The sales playbook has changed

Joseph Fung was unable to attend Lessons From Leaders in person due to last-minute travel requirements. Buyers are much more sophisticated, and they do far more research than ever before according to Fung who suggests three important steps in creating an effective sales playbook:

  1. Discovery Questions
  2. Customer Stories
  3. Competitive Objection Handling.

He explains these steps and more in this short video!