To determine the optimal changes to be made to enterprise sales, we need to build a view of how buyers will engage with salespeople. Without a good view of the direction, enterprise decision makers take during purchase, there is a risk of getting caught up on tactics and tools.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Caroll

The new buyer looks at the sales process and purchase very differently.

A. Buyers are more self-sufficient

With information democratization, often buyers are exposed to similar level of product detail as the salespersons. With reduced confidence in salespeople’s expertise and objectivity buyers proceed further along the sales journey by themselves and engage salespeople late in the process.

It is estimated that around 57% of the purchase process is completed before vendors are formally invited. However, it must be noted that trusted vendors do influence and guide the process.

B. Increased reliance on peer feedback

As consumers make decisions for their organization, a dynamic similar to the purchase patterns in B2C comes into play. Users are increasingly comfortable conducting product research themselves and often rely on peer feedback over expert reviews. There is a rise in crowd-sourced product research portals that offer usage reviews and ratings for products- which serves as a useful data point along with expert opinion.

IDC, a leading research team concluded in their study that 3 out of 4 B2B buyers and 8 out of 10 executive buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions.

C. Declining interest in unsolicited sales

Given the flood of information that enterprise decision makers receive, most buyers are very wary of stock email or the cold call. The typical expectation is that the salesperson needs to have enough insight into their problems with the conversation built around business outcomes and not around product features and capabilities. Also enterprise buyers typically look for some form of reference prior to speaking to a new salesperson

While there might still be interest in cold-calling in certain industries, most sectors have experienced that the effort in traditional cold-calling to achieve a single qualified lead makes the effort unsustainable. A leading sales advisory came up with research that aggressive cold calling could actually lead to negative sales outcomes

“30% [of buyers] said that unwanted supplier contact actually lessened their likelihood of purchase from the perpetrator”.