B2B sales research confirms buyers are overwhelmed and front-line managers are unprepared

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Eighty per cent of B2B sales reps who help filter information and ease the decision-making process for customers close high-quality, low-regret deals, according to a report from research firm Gartner.

Based on a survey of more than 1,000 B2B buyers, the Stamford, Conn.-based company’s report suggested that quantity and even accuracy of information is not a problem. In fact, 89 per cent of those surveyed said they trust what they’re hearing from reps about various products and services.

Instead, buyers told Gartner they are often struggling to assess what seems like contradictory data from different vendors and feel overwhelmed by the challenge of making an informed decision. When this happened, the likelihood buyers will either spend less than planned or invest in something less disruptive is 153 per cent, the report said.

Gartner recommended B2B sales reps move away from a “giving” approach to selling, in which they believe offering more information will move a deal forward, and “telling,” in which they emphasize their personal experience and knowledge. Instead, reps should try to demonstrate what Gartner called “sense-making,” in which they help buyers evaluate and prioritize relevant information. The firm suggested sales teams keep in mind the three Cs — connect, clarify and collaborate — as the best ways to support builders and build their confidence.

Of course, a shift towards sense-making will require some coaching, but research from sales enablement application provider Showpad suggested there are gaps to be addressed first. The company’s recent survey of front-line sales managers showed 37 per cent miss being a sales rep, perhaps because they haven’t been properly prepared for the role. The company’s recent survey of front-line sales managers showed 37 per cent miss being a sales rep, perhaps because they haven’t been properly trained for the role. Many salespeople do take B2B sales training before even getting their first job in the field, and companies usually offer corporate sales training programs and constant coaching and support from sales team leaders.

For example, 17 per cent said their organizations lack sufficient resources and 19 per cent said their biggest job challenge is lack of support from upper management.

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Shane Schick
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.