Have you ever complained, aloud or silently, that people just don’t understand you? Perhaps others—a spouse or partner, a child, a good friend—have voiced the same complaint about you.
Gaining a deep understanding of other people requires significant effort, patience, and good listening skills. It’s a journey that can take a lifetime to perfect.
When the person we’re trying to understand is a stranger or a mere acquaintance, the effort to understand them can be herculean. But when you’re a sales professional and you’re selling a product or service to a business buyer, understanding the other person is critical to your career success. Among other items, you must discover:
- What’s changed in their environment that’s driving their need for your product or service now
- What competitors’ offerings they may also be considering
- What impact those unmet needs are having on their organization, including wasted time, inefficiencies, or unrealized revenue.
What Sales Qualities Are Most Important to Buyers?
When Primary Intelligence analyzed nine standard categories from which buyers rate the effectiveness of their sales reps—categories such as “Knowledge of your Industry,” “Presentation and Demonstration,” and “Responsiveness”—we found the most important category buyers use to judge sales effectiveness is “Understanding Buyer Needs.” Understanding the needs of buyers is nearly three times more important than the next highest category—Product Knowledge.
We see no reason why sellers’ ability to understand their buyers’ business needs will decline in importance in the near or long term. In the thousands of B2B telephone interviews we conduct annually with buyers, respondents voice their praise for sales teams who take the time to understand—really understand—their environments, markets, competitors, and pain points. They also express disdain—sometimes contempt—for sales reps who don’t have the patience or willingness to invest their time in understanding buyer needs.
How are Sales Reps Doing?
When evaluating B2B buyer feedback from over 10,000 interviews, we found that less than half of all buyers—only 43 percent—rated their sales teams as “excellent” in understanding their needs. And nearly 20 percent—one in five buyers—rated their sales reps as “poor” in understanding their needs.
While sales teams in some industries, deal sizes, and geographic regions perform better than others in developing a solid understanding of their buyers’ needs, it’s clear that there’s significant room for improvement in how effectively most sales teams understand the needs of their B2B buyers. Moving the needle from “poor” to “excellent,” or even from just “poor” to “average,” will help sellers gain a competitive advantage over other firms and increase their buyers’ level of satisfaction, not only with the product or service being evaluated, but with buyers’ overall decision satisfaction, the likelihood they’ll recommend the seller to a colleague, and the chances the buyer will choose them in the future.
“They needed to dive into more details about what we currently do individually as a firm. What [they] do is just mass sell. There wasn’t any kind of requirements generation, or anything specific to our firm.” —Support Manager, Legal industry
CLICK HERE for more information on Primary Intelligence’s latest industry research, Understanding Buyer Needs.
CLICK HERE to register for our September 30 webinar that will highlight Understanding Business Needs.