Even Selling Cars Has Changed; Imagine How Much Your B2B Sales Approach Must Evolve

It’s 7:45, laptop bag strapped on your shoulder, you head out the door to go to work. Imagine in your driveway sits a gentleman in a suit with a brand new car. Unfortunately, he’s not there to give you the good news you won the local radio contest. Instead he offers “Boy do I have a deal for you. Buy this brand new Yugo right now and I can cut you a fantastic deal.”

How likely are you to buy on the spot? Forget that it’s the most uncool car on the planet. Were you even in the market for a new car? Will your 6 Ft. 5 inch tall car pool friend fit in it? Has the sales person taken into account you just bought a new house and are rebuilding your savings? Let’s face it, you’re about as likely to buy that car as I am to be America’s Next Top Model. It’s not happening folks.

I know when you read this you think what a ridiculous scenario, he’s crazy to show up at your door unannounced. But unfortunately, what I described isn’t all that different from how many B2B sales and marketing professionals approach potential clients.

Now what if instead of trying to shove a contract under my nose, that same sales man showed up at my door but this time offered “I know you’re running out but I have these free car wash gift certificates I’d like to give you in exchange for answering just one question”. Now I might be a little annoyed, but my car could use a good wash. So yes, I’d let him ask me one question. He hands over the gift certificate and says “What is the most important criteria for you when buying a new car?” This is easy for me to answer – function I have four kids and I need a practical car that can accommodate a family of six. Mission accomplished.

Now about three weeks later when I’ve had a chance to turn in that gift certificate the sales man calls me and asks was I satisfied with the job they did on my car. I thank him yes and then he says “oh by the way, when might you be in the market for a new car?” He’s now earned the right to ask me another question. Unfortunately for him I’m not in the market for three years. Unfettered he responds. “Thanks, before I let you go I wanted to tell you about a free child safety seat inspection we’re having at the dealership next Saturday. The local police have noticed a lot of accidents lately where children were hurt because their seats were not properly installed. If you come by, bring the kids we’ll be giving out stickers and cookies too.”

Whether I show up or not, this sales man has just resisted the urge to sell me something I don’t way, instead he’s demonstrated he listened to my needs and is offering a service I do in fact value.

Now three months go by and my teenage son crashes my car. He’s fine but the car is totalled and I need to find a replacement fast. Am I likely to call the first sales man that showed up to my house saying “buy the Yugo now”? Not a chance. I’m calling the nice guy who showed he might actually know what I want.

Now think about this, if buying a car can require this complex of a sales journey, how much nurturing does your B2B technology or service offering require?

I wish I could tell you this story was true, but sadly I’ve met more cheesy car sales man than nurturing ones. I wonder if this is an American phenomenon, or if car sales man across the world do the “check with my manager jive” before they offer you a 1% discount as if they are bending over backwards for you.

None the less, I do hope it’s illustrated for you why nurturing matters. Going for the hard sell because you can doesn’t work — our buyers are educated and they want to be treated that way.

Now go share this with every car like sales man you know! We all might just benefit. (And you may enjoy this past post too about the buyer’s journey)