In the professional buyer/seller environment, preferences and practices have changed dramatically since the spring of 2020. In many sectors, the dynamic between seller and buyer has changed in fundamental ways. Some of those changes, according to a new Sandler Research Center report, What do buyers want and how do buyers work, Tend to prefer the buyer.
Sandler’s survey is based on responses from 602 sales professionals in 43 countries. The accompanying report explains how, in the wake of the global pandemic, buyers are often working with a radically different set of priorities than they did just over a year ago.
How do buyers research and make a big purchase today… and how can sellers better adapt to buyers’ emerging priorities to streamline the buying process? Key points from the report include:
Buyers do not sign up early in the cycle. Today’s buyers have access to most of the information they need long before they do business with potential sellers, which means that contacting sales professionals, in many sectors, occurs much later in the sales/purchasing cycle than it once did. 53% of respondents to Sandler’s survey said they identified the need for a major purchase entirely on their own. Buyers not only do more comprehensive independent research on products and services once a need is identified, but they are also more likely to access trusted reviews, talk to existing customers, and research market information about potential allies. This means that the seller who is finally invited into the process must have already completed his or her homework for the buyer – and must be able to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the seller’s industry/sector. This is one reason why a premature promotion can be a disastrous misstep for sellers.
Buyers love the control and scheduling flexibility that email conversations give them. Despite the increasing availability of video conferencing options, survey results indicate that email correspondence remains the preferred means of communication for professional buyers who interact with salespeople. 50% of respondents select email as the preferred method of communicating with sellers. This finding suggests that vendors trying to pressure decision makers to schedule initial video “discovery” calls may be doing harm to themselves and their organizations.
On large purchases, buyers are looking for a long-term relationship with a responsive partner they can trust – and are willing to pay more for it. Emphasizing low cost in early discussions with professional buyers may be counterproductive. 84% of Sandler survey respondents said the opportunity to build a long-term symbiotic relationship with the seller was a critical factor in their decision-making process. Responsiveness and general fit for presentation ranked high on the list of traits required in a professional relationship. The ability to offer the lowest possible advance price is listed at the bottom of the list of required features.
To download the full report What do buyers want and how do buyers workAnd click here.