Are You an ‘Informed Challenger’?

Are You an ‘Informed Challenger’?

The answer to that question is probably, “What do you mean by an Informed Challenger?”

Let’s put that thought aside for a moment and mention that this is relative to the business sales process, particularly in the B2B sector. Consider yourself moderately more informed.

The sales process used to be driven by field sales teams face to face. But much has changed for businesses post-pandemic. Just about every aspect of the sales process from salespeople, to operations, technology, and culture has been impacted.

We increasingly see a virtual sales journey that is remote and, more interestingly, becoming the preferential route for buyers. According to the LinkedIn State of Sales for the UK 2021 (click here for the link to the full download), only 12% of buyers say they need to see a sales professional face to face in order to make a purchase.

Where Does the ‘Informed Challenger’ Bit Factor In?

Buyers are becoming increasingly savvier about what they want out of their buying journey. More able now than ever before to navigate the process, they likewise demand more from their buying experience with perceived and tangible added value.

It’s important that a sales professional can demonstrate that the product or service they deliver has said added value. Can they express this in an insightful and eye-opening manner that challenges the buyer’s original perceptions? Are they able to offer a fresh perspective that effectively challenges the buyer’s way of thinking about that product or service?

If the answer to that question is ‘Yes’, then they are an Informed Challenger.

This tactic is one that, according to the same LI Sales Report, reveals that 80% of buyers are more likely to consider purchasing from a sales professional who can comfortably demonstrate this skill.

Shame that only 10% of these same buyers say this is a regular occurrence. That’s some serious food for thought.

Quite simply, the old-school ways of selling are going the way of the dinosaurs.

Evolve or Bust

The old adage that cold-calling will always lead to, well, leads is rapidly offering diminishing results.

In fact, most buyers list cold-calling as the number one reason to refuse to even put a purchase into consideration.
The reality is that the top-performing salespeople who regularly exceed their quotas are spending less time selling and more time using sales intelligence tools. Businesses are investing big bucks on sales intelligence tools that offer a deeper dive into data and insights. And rightly so.

CRM, virtual collaboration and demo tools, coaching, and engagement tools are all high on many SME and larger corporate budgets. They are the critical elements to closing sales deals today.

We expect that the investment in these tools will continue to grow in the coming years until they are a must-have and not a ‘nice to have’.

Unfortunately, those who think this is a flash-in-the-pan moment that will ultimately revert to the way things used to be are destined to be left behind.

The Rest of the Key Trends

The study identified a total of six key trends in UK sales. Namely, they are:
The reality that selling is presently virtual by default
Companies need to fully embrace sales tech, this is not the time for baby steps
The concept of Buyer-First has to be a philosophy and not a tactic, buyers will see through holes in a culture that isn’t walking the talk
Informed Challengers and brand building beat cold-calling every day of the week
Sales operations roles have skyrocketed as digital sales data sources can offer a competitive advantage
Businesses that are truly more diverse have a competitive edge

Final Thoughts

Virtual selling is here to stay and buyers are unlikely to revert to in-person sales professional meetings again.

Whether you like it or not, the remote process isn’t destroying the interpersonal relationships in sales that many feared it would.

Thanks to the sales tech salespeople are doing better research, working more closely with marketing to hone and develop buyer relationships with the brand, and are better understanding their opportunities.

Be an informed challenger. Sales are no longer just about the cold-calls and quick transactions. It’s about building long-lasting, trusting, and inspirational relationships with buyers that raise the bar.

Thanks for reading!

Malcolm Mitchell is a Tricres Partner and his Partner Page can be found here, along with his LinkedIn Profile here.