If Buyers Have Biases, What Can Sales Do?

This blog was written by Zach Golden, Director of Client Management at Anova.

In a recent Spotio study on B2B buying decisions in 2023, a staggering revelation emerged: “B2B buyers are 57%-70% through buying research before contacting sales”.

This statistic underscores the significant impact of pre-existing biases that most inbound prospects carry when engaging with sales teams.  These biases encompass perceptions about your product, your company, competitor offerings, and ultimately which solution they will likely end up choosing.

On the one hand, this can work to a sales teams’ advantage if the prospect has determined their solution to be the early favorite. But even still, there appears to be much out of a salesperson’s control in B2B sales.

So, what can a salesperson do to overcome this and gain back control of the process?

One effective strategy is for salespeople to position themselves as consultants, dedicated to helping prospects understand and address their challenges.

Understanding the Consultative Approach

Anova defines a consultative approach (in the context of B2B sales) as being able to effectively align a solution to meet the needs of a prospect. It is an advanced sales skill, requiring nearly every tool in the sales toolbox, including:

  1. Conducting a thorough needs analysis to understand prospect requirements.
  2. Possessing communication and rapport-building skills to encourage prospects to open up and describe their needs.
  3. Demonstrating knowledge about the prospect’s industry to fully grasp the scope of the situation.
  4. Having in-depth knowledge of the salesperson’s own product to understand how different elements of its solution can address those needs.

Being consultative goes beyond making recommendations; it involves actively solving the customer’s problems. When done well, this approach can reframe a prospect’s understanding of their own challenges.

Why is a Consultative Approach Important?

Due to the increasing independence of customers in researching solutions, prospects often believe they fully understand their problems. However, a consultative approach can play a pivotal role in reframing the problem and demonstrating how a solution can genuinely address the challenge at hand.

Anova’s data underscores the importance of helping customers better understand their challenges as a key factor in winning B2B sales engagements.  In fact, of all the sales metrics Anova tracks across win / loss studies, an effective consultative approach has the highest correlation with winning a B2B sales engagement, more so than product demo quality, ability to make the prospect feel important, and differentiation.

While implementing a consultative approach can be challenging, its impact can be measured and refined through win/loss interviews. These interviews provide valuable feedback from individual prospects, allowing sales teams to continually enhance their consultative approach and gauge its effectiveness over time.