You may be in B2B sales, but did you know there are consumer trends that you can use to your advantage? As a Consumer Behavior Analyst, much of my focus is on identifying consumer trends among various industries.
Why? So businesses can better understand how to serve their consumers and ultimately, profit. Let’s not forget, we are all consumers – and it’s not something we can just turn off. Therefore, these trends may apply to consumers of your products and services (your prospects and clients).
Here are a few worth noting:
1) It’s no longer apples to apples – it’s apples and oranges.
We like to use this apples and oranges phrase to describe the notion that businesses are not only competing with others in their respective industries, but they’re competing with other industries for the consumer’s dollar. For example, an automotive dealer is no longer simply competing with other automotive dealers in town, but they’re now competing against home improvement stores, clothing stores, and restaurants (the list goes on). The reason being, consumers are being more cautious about the way they spend. In recent months, we’ve seen evidence that consumers are, indeed, purchasing big-ticket items. However, in doing so, they’re prioritizing. They’re not purchasing every big-ticket item on their list; they’re purchasing the one with the most urgent need. As a result, we’ve seen some industries having good months, while others, such as restaurants are taking a loss. Consumers figure that since they purchased a new car (or remodeled the kitchen) they’ll save money by eating in. (You can find a good example of this here.)
What does this mean for you? As a B2B salesperson, your end users are your clients and this same mindset may also apply to them. As you may already know – you’re not only competing with direct competitors in your field, you’re also competing with every other sales person (in every industry) that may be soliciting them. Your clients and prospects are prioritizing their money and time the same as the consumers. It might be smart to make sure you’re communicating why your product or service shouldn’t be put off… in addition to why they should meet with you, now.
2) The customer experience is becoming increasingly important.
Not the low price leader in your industry? No problem – another trend I’ve noticed is that consumers are valuing the purchase “experience” more and more. This doesn’t mean price isn’t a factor – but it does mean that the experience is gaining more leverage in deciding with whom they do business. (Some examples, if you’re interested: general example; automotive; banking; boomers; consumer package goods; millennials; retail /retail; restaurants/ QSRs.)
The good news is that the same can apply to you. No matter what product or service you sell, YOU have the power to create an enjoyable experience and delight your clients. Never underestimate the power of a good (or bad) experience.
Some questions to think about: What kind of value do YOU bring to your customers? What makes it enjoyable to do business with YOU? How do you make them feel? Does this set you apart from your competition? How might you enhance their experience, even more?
Experience is becoming a differentiator in a number of categories… and it’s something that you can easily provide and earn loyal clients. The best part? People are willing to share their experiences with other people. Make sure your clients are saying positive things on your behalf.
3) What do consumers really seek from you?
A third trend I’ve noticed is businesses incorrectly identifying (or, assuming) what their consumers seek from their business, products and/or services. (A few examples: general example; automotive; banking ; women.)
Could you be guilty of this? Think of all the traits and behaviors that you pride yourself on, all the things that make you “different” than your competition. Then ask yourself, are these things actually important to my clients? Furthermore, do I know what is important to them – what benefits they seek from doing business with me? Sure, you may pride yourself on being the most friendly (or insert another trait here), but are you answering their calls when they need you? Paying attention to details? If you’re not sure what they seek and enjoy about doing business with you (they may be different things) just ask them.
Once you’ve figured out what these benefits sought are and which ones you do well - don’t forget to communicate them! Make sure they’re incorporated into your personal brand. (Think LinkedIn, Personal Marketing Resumes, etc.)
As a B2B salesperson, it’s easy to forget that you, too, are a consumer. These are three of many consumer trends that you can easily capitalize on. As a bonus – if your clients are B2C, you now have a little extra something to share with them.
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