Why You Need to Know in B2B Sales – Information is NOT Knowledge

Information is not knowledge, to make a decision you do not need more information, you need more knowledge and insight. But where does this come from?

Information is abundant; what there is a shortage of is insight. What has changed in recent years is not the selling process, but rather the buying process is more demanding and therefore evolving. Information is easily accessible, and buyers are time poor and under pressure to weigh up the macro and micro challenges, block the noise from suppliers yet extract relevant information to inform their decisions. Buyer must contribute to the buying unit while maintaining their reputation.

I enjoyed reading this Gartner report, that reveals a new B2B sales approach to win in today’s information age summary here. I agree that a new kind of seller and mindset is needed, to help buyers make sense of the information.

Information is Not Power Janice B Gordon 3

Gartner’s Principal Executive Advisor and expert Brent Adamson explain how B2B buyers have reached an information saturation point; saying “Sales Reps Must Help Customers Make Sense of the Buying Journey” and here’s why:

Gartner research found two customer opinion that positively influenced the likelihood of a high-quality and low-remorse sales negotiation:

  1. If buyers have high confidence in the information that they encountered.
  2. If they trust the supplier.

Their research shows the three ways suppliers engage the customer with information, only one unique approach increases both confidence and trust. The Scale Your Sales Attraction framework has adopted this research to develop relevant strategies that capitalise on suppliers gaining competitive advantage in building buyer confidence, and trust with relevant and timely knowledge-building content.

Information is Not Power Janice B Gordon source Canva - Shallow Focus Photography Of Man Facing Backward

Gartner List the Three Engagement Approaches:

  1. Giving: The giving attitude follows from the belief that more information is better, especially at the customer’s request, giving information will move a deal forward.
  2. Telling: Telling is the preferred approach of traditional sales force experts that have a breadth of personal experience, knowledge and the belief that they have the authority to address customers’ needs. This practical approach is the most autonomous for a sales leader as the sales process is set-up for telling the customers.
  3. Sense-Making: Sense-making helps customers evaluate information, so they can prioritise what’s important, quantify trade-offs and reconcile conflicting information. Sense-making simplifies customers’ learning by assisting them in assessing and prioritising relevant information, this role guides customers to arrive at their own understanding of the best solution.

Why Gartner says, Telling or Giving Does Not Work in B2B

“Gartner research shows that 80% of the sellers who used the sense-making approach closed high-quality, low-regret deals.”

Brent Adamson said; “the sense-making approach engenders greater customer confidence, reduces customer scepticism and, most importantly, yields far greater likelihood of the customer purchasing an upgraded, premium offering from a supplier.”

Scale your sales has taken the necessary behaviours and creates the Attraction framework of Engage, Educate and Elevate. According to Gartner research, sense-making secures a commercial advantage through a series of unique, information-related practice.

Scale Your Sales Attraction Framework

Why the Scale Your Sales Attraction Framework Makes Sense

ENGAGE

To engage, you must first be found by the relevant buyers and customers and connect with an engaging post. Applying active listening to diagnose the customers’ information requirements and preferences. Provide curated sources and tools to help the specific customers feel that what you (the supplier) knows, is relevant and is of interest to them.

EDUCATE

To educate is not to tell but to help the buyer explore the possible solutions and eliminate their choices. The supplier continues to build a trusted relationship assisting the customer to move along their buying journey by clarifying their particular needs. The role is to reduce the complexity of information overload by questioning and actively listening, filtering and helping them to process information into sense-making knowledge. Sense-making is essential to building sustainable customer engagement and trust.

ELEVATE

To elevate you must be part of the internal customer team collaborating across functions to help the customer evaluate the quality of information so they with guidance on the challenges, can arrive at their understanding of the difficult choices. The collaborative and trusted relationship helps the buyer form the right solutions from their perspective and not the supplier’s perspective. Sense-making requires a trusted advisor relationship with customers and partners in the collaborative process of finding relevant and timely solutions.

The goal of the Elevate strategy is to build the relationship to a trusted partnership; this secure long term value for both the supplier and the customer. It secures a breath of relationships across the customer functions and this help to build customer knowledge and better informs questioning methods and therefore, attain more relevant answers and insights.

Adamson said, “Building confidence, reducing scepticism and resolving customer information challenges is what sets the best apart from the rest and results in more consistent high-quality, low-regret deals.”

What more would you want?

About the Author

Janice is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management. She is passionate about helping companies adapt their sales approach to the economic, social and technological challenges. This has led her to create the popular sales enablement system, Scale Your Sales. Janice is the international Key Account Sales Speaker, author and consultant, achieving many noted accolades including Sage Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice to talk about Scaling Your Sales.

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