The First Step to Selling Higher: Be Real

When it comes to digital experiences, B2B buyers are drifting through a sea of sameness.

In his opening keynote for the recent Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, Brent Adamson shared a shocking statistic: 64% of B2B buyers cannot differentiate one brand’s digital experience from another’s. Yikes.

He then stressed the importance of improving seller websites, creating moments of nuance, and focusing on rep-mediated digital experiences — it’s that final point that I want to expand upon.

Does sameness exist there too? When prospects reach that crucial stage of rep interaction — the one designed to instill confidence in buying decisions — do they find themselves back in the same boat?

It’s a real risk. Especially when you’re selling to executives. After all, we’ve heard just about every pitch out there, and will likely disengage as soon as we hear another.

What’s the solution? Be prepared to talk finance, be knowledgeable about the company’s likely challenges, but, more than anything, be authentic.

The good news is virtual selling gives you a unique opportunity. Think about it: I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically invite strangers into my home. However, that’s exactly what we’re doing in virtual selling.

Use it to your advantage by starting with your background. Ditch the slick bookshelf that’s carefully stocked with every best-selling business tome printed over the last decade in favor of something more authentic. Insert tokens from your personal life to give prospects a window into who you are. If you’re an avid golfer, this might be a marker from your favorite course or a trophy from a club match. Maybe you got caught up in the baking craze during the pandemic. In that case, include your favorite recipe book.

You get the idea. The key is small authentic touches, not over-engineered displays.

The next step is to throw out the script and lean into soft skills. Salespeople must master communications skills such as active listening and effective questioning techniques to take a customer-centric approach.

This isn’t merely listening for your cue to talk — it’s being truly curious about the prospect’s situation; asking the questions that engage executives to further high-level business conversations; and confirming to build a match between problem, solution and future value realization.

The final step is to practice empathy. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes: What does success mean to them? On the other hand, if this initiative fails, will they be looking for a new job?

Go into every meeting with the mindset, If the buyer wins, I win. This enables you to connect authentically at a human level, build trust, and forge the business relationships that help B2B buyers feel confident — the essential ingredient to closing complex deals in a world dominated by similar digital experiences, virtual selling and commoditized markets.

If you want to dive deeper into the benefits of authenticity in sales, check out:

Until next time, happy selling,