The Mindset Shift About B2B Buyers That Will Transform Your Outlook on Revenue

August 9, 2023

Watch a few movies that include salespeople and you could be forgiven for thinking that closing the deal is all that matters in business.

Do whatever it takes. Get inside the buyer’s head. Play it fast and loose. Bend and stretch the truth as far as you dare.

Just always be closing.

Perhaps that’s how things were in the heady—or should that be headless?—days of rampant capitalism in the 90s and early 2000s.

Today’s reality looks a little different.

Aside from the emergence of stakeholder capitalism and the renewed focus on business ethics and governance—both great topics for another day—it’s increasingly clear that long-term value creation doesn’t stem from one-time deals.

In today’s subscription-based world, where recurring revenue models have spilled beyond software into consumables and even hardware, most revenue generation happens after the initial sale.

This requires a fundamentally different approach to the customer lifecycle.


Mindset Shift, Part One: Engagement

Businesses that are myopically focused on making sales, right now, spend a disproportionate amount of time courting sales-ready prospects.

Why bother with potential buyers that aren’t ready yet? They’ll drop into the funnel whenever the time is right, their need is great enough, and they find the budget.

That might have been true when salespeople held all the cards and buyers had no choice but to visit them if they wanted to learn about products and solutions.

Today, the internet has wrestled that advantage away from the sales team.

Buyers can research and evaluate solutions online, from the comfort of their couch, without revealing their identities.

By the time they become “sales-ready”, they’ve already decided what they plan to buy and, in many cases, from whom they’re going to purchase.

Old school sales tactics that fish for ready-to-buy prospects are running out of places to drop their hook

Old school sales tactics that fish for ready-to-buy prospects are running out of places to drop their hook.

To access today’s prospects requires building a relationship with them much earlier in their buyer’s journey.

Engagement no longer happens as they stroll onto the showroom floor or pause in front of the trade show booth.  It happens online, while you still have no idea who they are.

Which means that engagement is no longer about wowing prospects with the shiniest new thing; it’s about persuading them to trust your brand.

Content marketing is the means and mind share is the ends. In the middle lie authenticity, helpful information, and the gradual earning of trust.


Mindset Shift, Part Two: Persuasion

If you’re only interested in selling to a customer once, it doesn’t matter much what you say to get their business.

If, however, you want to build a life-long relationship with that customer, it pays to be truthful and accurate.

It’s less about the features and benefits of your product or service and more about why your company exists, who you choose to help, and how you add value.

Does this sound more like dating than sales? Rightly so.

Your buyers want more than just a great deal

Unless you trade in a commoditized market where the only things that matter are price and availability, your buyers want more than just a great deal.

They’re looking for expert help, reliable advice, and solutions that deliver value beyond their immediate need.

They want to be treated with respect and made to feel valued—more like a partnership than a buyer-seller dynamic.

They might also choose to do business with vendors who care about more than just making money.

Persuading B2B buyers to entrust their business to your company requires showing up consistently and authentically. It requires you to always be helping.


Mindset Shift, Part Three: Delivering the Experience

Finding and converting prospects into customers is just the first step.

Delivering a great product is just table stakes not the pièce de résistance.

Retaining your customers—the phrase “forever customers” is gaining in popularity—depends on delivering a great experience, both before, during, and after the sale.

This starts when a prospect is still in stealth mode, reading around the subject and deciding what, if anything, they want to do about the challenge they’re facing.

How and where they find you, and the experience they have at those touchpoints, will determine whether they associate your brand with a place to do business.

And while first impressions can certainly have a disproportionate impact, the same is true for the dozens of subsequent touchpoints that they will have with your brand, business, and people as they make their buying decision and implement your solution.

Whether they become a forever customer will depend on the aggregate of those experiences—the total customer experience you deliver

Whether they become a forever customer will depend on the aggregate of those experiences—the total customer experience you deliver.

I’m sure you’ve read numerous articles about the need to eliminate boundaries between marketing, sales, and customer success.

Delivering a seamless, frictionless customer experience is today’s Holy Grail.

And that seamlessness must extend far beyond the internal handovers that occur as leads become prospects become customers.

Your brand must look and feel and act the same wherever they encounter it—from website, to blog, to social, to conference, to installation technician, to your CEO on TV.

Content marketing in its broadest definition sets the stage and writes the script for each of these encounters.


Mindset Shift, Part Four: The Marketing-Led Organization

The businesses I described in the introduction were sales-led organizations.

Sales was the star around which all the other departments orbited like planets.

Product development was geared toward increasing sales by addressing whatever customer needs the sales team identified.

Finance existed to equip sales with appropriate pricing and incentives and to count the beans that sales generated for the company.

Operations served up the orders that the sales team secured, moving heaven and earth to hit whatever delivery times and conditions had been needed to win the business.

Some companies still work this way, but their futures are bleak.

Today, as the first three parts of the mindset shift have shown, engaging, persuading, and retaining customers extends far beyond making a sale.

It requires publishing relevant, helpful content that attracts and engages prospects while they are still unknown to the company, winning mind share that can later be converted into market share.

It requires delivering a seamless experience across multiple platforms, carefully designed and scripted to make the customer experience as frictionless as possible—from the first days of research through making a purchase to an ongoing relationship of implementation and value creation.

Importantly, it requires tapping into expertise and ideas from across your organization, which in turn requires the authority to divert resources from other business priorities.

Marketing needs a seat at the leadership table, alongside sales and not subordinate to it

Perhaps the biggest mindset shift of all is the realization that marketing needs a seat at the leadership table, alongside sales and not subordinate to it.

Marketing is as crucial today as the sales department was in its heyday.

If you can instill that mindset throughout your organization, it stands a great chance of differentiating itself from the pack and becoming a market leader.

One closing thought: don’t write off the sales team completely.  

Helping prospects make the right buying decision for their company is a vital ingredient in business success—whether they end up purchasing from you or your competitor.

Marketing, sales, and customer success must all play their part, together with the other vital organs that keep product and revenue flowing.


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Image credits: Adobe Stock

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