They say that knowledge is power. In the world of B2B sales, this is no different. Personal expertise plays a role in whether sales reps can cinch a deal or not. However, the most important kinds of knowledge can be obtained through research. After all, knowing is half the game. Knowing their target market, their competition, and even individual customers is key to staying ahead, improving sales and overall success in the industry.
Know the environment
A B2B sales rep needs to know the lay of the land before they start to track targets. Knowing the target market is as important as reading the room when engaging with a room full of people. The only difference is the scale. Researching the specific industry and company that key decisions-makers work in is important for understanding what they need and want as businesspeople. Identifying pain points and being able to address them in sales pitches can place B2B businesses in a more appealing position to customers.
But knowing the target market is only one side of the coin. It’s one thing to know who to target, but it’s another to know who else is aiming at the same target market. Competition that strives to divert attention and appeal away from one’s business and towards their own serves as a threat to sales. Thus, B2B businesses need to constantly compete with other B2B businesses to maintain their own slice of the market. Customers are constantly contrasting B2B businesses against their competitors. A sales rep needs to be able to do the same, but in favour of their own business. A sales rep who does their research about the competition will be able to come up with counterpoints to objections that their customers make. This kind of research can help a business to stand out in a crowded market.
Know the customer
Once a sales rep surveys the landscape, they can then go on to research specific customers. A broad understanding of the target market is great, but the role of a sales representative is to go down to the level of the individual customer. In the B2B world, this is either the business as a whole or the decision-makers. Researching specific leads will equip sales reps with the necessary knowledge to be able to tailor sales pitches to each customer.
Sales reps should research a customer’s buying process. This involves the budgeting, decision-making process, and the entire purchasing timeline. By understanding this process, sales reps can better plan their approaches and anticipate potential roadblocks. Optimising the time of contact and method of contact can influence the end result, and this can change for each business.
Additionally, a customer’s past interactions with the business also holds treasured information about a customer that can be used in future interactions. Researching this is doubly important when a different sales rep is introduced to a previous lead or customer. Even so, sales reps are not always the only point of contact between customers and businesses. Sales reps should have knowledge of previous purchases, customers’ satisfaction with products or services, and any previous issues or complaints. Knowing these will allow sales reps to build trust with customers.
Research is integral to the success of sales reps. It helps them to understand their target markets, the competitors, and customers’ buying processes and previous interactions with the business. By using said information to their advantage, sales reps can pinpoint specific pain points that customers have and react to any obstacles in the way of closing a deal. In short, research should be a key component of any sales rep’s strategy.