Adapting Sales Strategy to Buyer Behavior

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Businesses must develop a dynamic sales strategy that can adapt to diverse customer needs. The ability to tailor a sales strategy to unique scenarios can help businesses convey how an offering can add value to customers with complex needs. Businesses should develop a flexible sales framework that can accommodate need variation across several dimensions of buyer behavior. The factors that should be accounted for in an adaptive sales strategy are detailed below.

Buying Objective

Customers can vary significantly in the objectives that they want to accomplish by making a purchase. Some businesses may plan to utilize an offering to earn a competitive advantage over a rival firm. Other purchases can be made in hopes of attracting a new market segment or a major buyer. Certain customers have well-defined buying objectives while other customers may be uncertain about what their true needs are. Businesses should be prepared to demonstrate how their offerings can add value to customers who might have a wide range of buying objectives.

Value Chain Involvement

The value chain is important for all enterprises, but customers who function as intermediaries or suppliers for other businesses are likely to prioritize the impact of the value chain when making a purchasing decision. Business-to-business (B2B) customers often involve their key suppliers and customers in a purchasing decision to ensure that a proposal can add value. A sales strategy should account for the disparate needs of individual value chain participants who might be impacted by the new purchase. Involving other members of the value chain can also lead to opportunities for cross-selling additional products. Involving key partners of the value chain in the purchasing decision, therefore, should be perceived as an opportunity for sales growth.

People Involved

Many sales strategies are fundamentally flawed because they focus on companies, rather than the people who make the decisions. Companies are not lifeless entities, but people working together for a common purpose. Therefore, sales strategies should account for the human factors that influence every purchasing decision. Key influencers who advise a decision maker should be offered personal meetings and opportunities to voice their concerns. Sales agents should nurture a strong interpersonal relationship with stakeholders who are involved in the purchasing team. Accounting for the people involved in the purchasing decision can lead to more sales in the real world.

Organizational Characteristics

B2B customers that market products at different stages in their lifecycles can exhibit distinct buying behaviors. Small and medium-sized businesses often emphasize cost and close relationships as their primary buying motives. Large corporate buyers may have tomes of organizational rules that must be abided by when making a purchase. Startups tend to be more willing to take significant risks while established businesses often seek to avoid risk unless their market dominance is threatened. Sales strategies should be capable of adapting to the organizational characteristics of a customer's business to explain how a proposed offering can add value.

Risk Environment

The risk tolerance of prospective buyers should be inferred before making a final proposal. Customers who demonstrate limited risk tolerance should be presented with a plan that will minimize initial resource commitments and account for potential losses. Entrepreneurial buyers should be shown the potential payoff that risk exposure could entail. Sales strategies should also mitigate personal career risks that leading decision makers could face by accepting a proposal. The most effective way for sales strategies to manage the risk environment is to be candid about the risks and potential rewards associated with the proposed offer.

Adapting to Each Situation

Earning a sale requires businesses to demonstrate how an offering could add value for the specific problems that a customer is experiencing. Businesses should adapt their sales strategies to account for the unique situation of each customer. The people involved in the purchasing decision should be the focus of sales efforts. Influencers and the individual motives of a decision maker must be satisfied before businesses will agree to make a purchase. Sales strategies that adapt to the unique situation of each customer can lead to enhanced sales performance and long-term sustainability.

​The Role Marketing Automation Plays

When done properly marketing automation connects your sales team to your marketing department. Investing the proper amount of time and resources into your marketing automation platform will greatly decrease the guess work involved with determining buyer behaviors. Technology continues to change the way buyers consume information and lead nurturing has become a vital part of any successful marketing strategy. This is especially true when it comes to building relationships with potential buyers across multiple channels, even if they are not currently looking to purchase a product or service at that exact moment. If you’re in need of a more thorough explanation of lead nurturing I’d suggest downloading Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing.