Despite all our advances, a lot of companies are still selling software like it’s 1985. While they may not have acid wash jeans and fade haircuts to match their software approach, they are using old-school sales techniques that just feel… dated.
Traditionally, for B2B software sales ( e.g. enterprise software), most companies adopted a direct sales model, and to reduce the length of the sales process responded with a complex lead qualification process. Sales professionals formed close relationships with purchasing and IT departments and went through long RFP and proof of concept processes in hot pursuit of major sales. Making a sale took a lot of time and effort – and each sale had a big payoff to match.
But today’s software buyers are no longer restricted by silos in large organizations, subject to their company’s nitpicky purchasing processes and blessed by IT. They’re increasingly agile and empowered, with access to more information and resources than ever before. Buyers are smart enough and connected enough to quickly find answers on their own, and are no longer dependent on salespeople. In fact, it is estimated that 60% of the sales process is complete even before the first contact with a sales professional.
Today’s software buyers are also accustomed to using a lot of remarkably complex software for free, or using the freemium model to try before they buy. Savvy buyers are more skeptical and more apt to jump around in the sales process, ask to skip the demo and try the software on their own terms, and request time with technical experts.
In addition, software buyers bring their “B2C” sensibilities as a consumer in demanding ease of use, small purchases, personalization and familiar interfaces. It is more than likely that good consumer applications find usage in enterprise contexts, and vice-versa.
They behave as “individuals” – like the folks on Portlandia,– and they demand to be treated like it.
That implies companies can no longer live in the past and stop looking at the world through the traditional lens of B2B or B2C. Instead, they need to adopt a new approach to sales: business-to-individual, or B2i. This involves recognizing the individual needs and context of each buyer, and customizing the sales process to meet unique needs.
Stay tuned next time to learn more about how to address the complexity placed by demanding modern software buyers – and how old-school sales processes are really failing them (kinda like Crystal Pepsi failed us all).