Much has been written about the differences between the B2B and B2C buying process. At its crux, the key difference lies in the amount of research, exploration, validation, concurrence, and approval necessary for B2B purchases due to the typically large investment they require. All of this activity extends the length and complexity of the buying process considerably as B2B buyers take the time and diligence needed to make absolutely certain the product or service will solve present and future needs. The success of B2B sellers, therefore, rests in their ability to assist and guide decision makers through each phase of this multifaceted process.
I recently read an article that showcases perfectly the Top 7 Attributes of B2B sellers, as identified by 700 B2B buyers who collectively represent $3.1 billion in annual purchases. According to these influential decision makers, top B2B sellers:
- Educate me with new ideas or perspectives
- Collaborate with me
- Persuade me that my company would achieve results
- Listen to me
- Understand my needs
- Help me avoid potential pitfalls
- Craft a compelling solution
With the Top 7 Attributes clearly identified by those who are living what you are sellingTM, B2B sellers must now consistently demonstrate them so decision makers recognize and value them. Sales training and personal development can improve the individual acumen and skill in a B2B sales organization; however, this is just a start. Institutionally, B2B organizations must also gain a more intimate understanding of the world in which their customers and prospects live. The most effective route to gain this comprehensive view begins with an active Customer Advisory Board (CAB).
The most widely-known benefit of a well structured Customer Advisory Board is the platform it provides to help executives build relationships with key stakeholders, including customers, internal constituencies, suppliers, wholesalers, distributors, alliances, and partners. A successful CAB is unequivocally proven to turn customers into true advocates
while helping organizations retain and increase revenue opportunities. These results are well-documented by the companies who have achieved them.
When structured correctly, however, a CAB also helps organizations develop an unprecedentedly deep understanding of market conditions, key drivers of the industry, and how their customers are impacted by and react to them. Armed with this insight (knowledge which cannot be learned from reading blogs, articles, or other online content), B2B sellers can now better demonstrate the Top 7 Attributes by educating, collaborating, understanding, helping, and listening to decision makers at each point of the buying process with more immediate relevance. Therefore, the insight learned through a Customer Advisory Board enables B2B organizations to more effectively connect their solutions to buyer needs and craft solutions that are both compelling and invaluable to the decision maker.
If your organization currently operates an active Customer Advisory Board today, be sure you are developing the Top 7 Attributes by discussing key topics of their business and industry with them. If your organization does not currently operate a CAB, you might be losing out to those who do.