Showpad CEO Hendrik Isebaert shares insights on the changing world of B2B sales in interview with Alex Moyle
We recently watched a webinar with Alex Moyle over at The Growth Hub, where Moyle interviewed Showpad CEO Hendrik Isebaert on how the world of B2B selling has changed in the last three years. In this blogpost, we share some of the insights we found really interesting from the interview, starting with one of the biggest shifts – the point in the buyer’s journey where prospects now reach out to sales reps. “What we find is that 60% of the buying cycle has already taken place before the first interaction with the buyer,” says Hendrik Isebaert. In the interview, Isebaert talks about two major changes in particular: the expanded access that buyers have to information, and the trend to larger decision-making units.
Buyers are more informed
Buyers are more informed than they have ever been, and that changes the process for sellers, says Isebaert. With the explosion of digital channels and content, buyers now have multiple ways to educate themselves on solutions and options. They’re doing a large amount of research upfront, before making any contact with a sales professional. One of the most valuable information sources for them is hearing first-hand from customers who are already using a solution or product, via customer testimonials or in online user communities.
That means that sales reps who are still starting meetings with a “feature/function dump” are on the wrong path, says Isebaert. “In the eyes of your buyer, you actually become irrelevant. Because they’re looking for someone who helps them with deeper and more sophisticated insights, and now you’ve missed the chance to position your company as a trusted advisor. Your solution and your offering is not just the tech but also how you deliver it, as something that is truly going to help them solve the problem that they are trying to solve.”
Decision-making units are expanding
Another big change is the growing size of decision-making units (DMUs). Because so many companies are hybrid and more teams are virtual, it’s a lot easier to invite more people into the DMU. And because the sales rep now typically gets involved halfway through the sales cycle, it is a lot more challenging for them to figure out who the key people are on the buying committee. “It’s hard to work out who does what, in a 30 minute Zoom,” says Isebaert.
This format also means there is a lot less time for informal conversations. The sales rep is presenting to the group immediately, without any warmup. In the past, even the five-minute walk from reception to the meeting room was a chance to learn more about a company. “That’s where you got all of the good information,” says Isebaert.
So what’s the best way for B2B marketers to support sales reps today?
It’s still about providing sales teams with the right content, that they can find and present easily. “What happens today often is that there is such a plethora of content it can be hard for a seller to find their way. So they might select a small subset that they use. But by definition that means you’re not going to be asking the customer what they are looking for, rather you are going to be pushing the content or the presentation that you already have in mind,” says Isebaert.
The key is to make it very easy to surface content that is relevant for the conversation. This can be done through advanced search capabilities, or a visualized click path, which allows sales reps to sit with the buyer, and rather than present to the buyer, they can walk through the path together. Customers also want to know how the solution is going to help them, and understand how your teams are going to ensure a successful implementation. Customer testimonials and reference cases are one of the most powerful ways to demonstrate the ROI of your solution.
Showpad brings it all together
Showpad offers multiple ways to share content, and also to create shared spaces for customers and sales teams to collaborate and share information from both sides, such as meeting notes, Q&As, team member bios, and more, to serve as a central hub to manage the sales process. Artificial intelligence is also starting to play a role, says Isebaert. Based on all the information that you have around the sales cycle, you can start surfacing content to your prospects based on similar engagements to other customers, highlighting what would be relevant for the customer at that time.
At Living Stone, we help our customers create the right strategies and content for the Showpad platform, supporting their sales and marketing goals. We call our approach “smarketing,” because it integrates the objectives from both sides, resulting in sales enablement programs that work for everyone. If you’re like to find out more, and how you can boost your content and support your sales teams, mail or call Anne-Mie at email@example.com or +32 (0)55 59 10 07.