There was an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review’s July – August edition, titled “The End of Solution Sales.” It wasn’t so much that this was a new concept about how salespeople need to change to be successful with the new way buyers are buying. What was truly informational was the way it expanded on just how salespeople are changing to be successful.
In the past, there have been a lot of articles that document how buyers have so much information now at their fingertips. This allows them to engage salespeople when they are ready and, when they do engage, they are so much farther down the funnel than ever before. In fact, a study done by the Corporate Executive Board of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60 percent of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before ever having a conversation with a supplier. This means that when the prospect came to the table, they were often more informed than their salesperson.
The article in the Harvard Business Review mentions a number of ways salespeople are changing to become more successful with this model. They’re changing how they approach the account, when they approach the account and the process once they engage with the account. The other interesting note is that companies themselves are acknowledging that they need to get involved much earlier with the account, even before a finished RFP shows up on their desk. This speaks directly to the benefits of effective nurturing. With effective nurturing strategies, companies are able to stay top of mind with prospects for a period of time, helping to educate and guide them before they are actually in the buying phase.