As we stated previously in our article on the death of Transactional Selling, 24% fewer B2B salespeople will be required by 2020. This means that part of the sales role is expected to disappear within the next 5 years, especially amongst Transactional B2B sales reps. To help you to adapt your Sales strategy to address complex changes, Pascale Hall delivered some insight on how to move from transactional to complex selling in the first Sales Webinar as part of a series in collaboration with Vlerick Business school and moderated by Deva Rangarajan, Associate Professor at Vlerick Business School.

From-Transactional-to-complex-selling- minds&more

Selling is changing.

  • 57% of the buying journey is done before the sales rep is involved
  • 5.4 people are now involved in the average B2B buying decision
  • 75% of the B2B buyers now use social media to research vendors
  • 90% of decision makers say they never respond to cold calling
  • 74% of buyers choose the sales rep that was first to add value and insight

The impact on the buying journey

With the growing trend in digitalisation, the buyer’s journey has evolved. The initial trigger to buy now involves multiple people that gather information beforehand and so each has a different perspective on the different needs to be addressed. The buying decision is dependent on numerous stakeholders, lengthens the decision making process and makes it more complex.

In a Transactional sale the “problem” is well defined, characterised and understood by the buyer, and there is no need to create a lot of value or insight for the customer. The rise of e-commerce and the growing trend of the informed buyer has increased the complexity of businesses by displacing transactional selling. Habits have changed and selling is in most cases part of a complex process.

Today the seller needs to help the buyer to better understand the buying context and create value to facilitate the decision making process. Complex selling implies:

  • Creating a vision of the future solution – high value
  • Customer doesn’t know the buying process
  • Multiple decision makers, 3rd parties
  • Team selling
  • Multiple levels of hierarchy are involved (internal & external)
  • Long sales cycles
  • Impact on processes
  • High switching costs
  • Higher Margins
  • High SG&A costs
  • Consultants, sales experts

Understand what drives the decision

Transactional and complex selling are totally opposite sales approaches. The more transactional your selling activities, the more volume and efficiency oriented they are. Complex selling helps to facilitate the buying process, not the transaction. In a complex sale the seller plays a key role in helping the buyer to understand his/her issue, the impact a solution can have and how to make this decision based on the buyers ROI. To be efficient, you need to check if your go-to-market strategy is still aligned with how your buyers are buying.  Know what you want to be for whom and in what kind of market you want play. Sometimes you may even need to sell in both ways (transactional and complex), depending on the product life cycle and market maturity.

The buyer’s dilemma

According to the MHI, 87% of buyers agree they feel overwhelmed by the amount of content that is available and the information they receive. Buyers are confronted with floods of information and data but often find little meaning in it.

Moreover, many opportunities are lost in the buying decision process which means a lot of resources and energy are lost internally. To close your deal, all internal buyers need to be aligned on the issue.  A good sales process supports the internal buyer: it is a win-win system. Sellers have to do everything to facilitate the buying process starting by educating the internal buyer to help you to bring your solution internally and take you to the decision maker. The process shouldn’t feel complicated for the buyer; you have to make it fast and with as little risk as possible.

How to sell Value?

It is not about selling features and benefits but about the value you can bring in the relationship with the client. You need to understand the customer’s context:

  • Why customers buy?
  • Why customers don’t buy?

Adopt a pro-active attitude, dare to have a point of view and bring insight and perspective. Always use your questioning and listening skills.

To guide your value proposition, keep in mind the formula of the Net Perceived Value:

NPV = PV – Risk – TCO

Net perceived value equals the perceived value minus the risk minus the cost of ownership (adoption, maintenance, training). If one of the last two elements are higher than the perceived value, buyers are not likely to buy.

Develop your Social Selling skills

Join the next session of this Sales webinar series on 13 May 2015 to learn more about social selling and how to develop your social skills with our partner Pascale Hall and moderated by Deva Rangaraj, Associate Professor at Vlerick business School. The registration link will be available soon but you can already save the date in your calendar.

If you missed the webinar or would like to listen to it again, access the full presentation.

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