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It’s never been easy to sell to B2B buyers. Today, however, there are new challenges making it even more difficult. The number of people involved in B2B purchasing is rising, the B2B sales cycle is lengthening, and expectations for salespeople are increasing, just to name a few. I checked in with Demand Gen Report’s latest B2B Buyers Survey to see what insights it offers on how to sell to B2B buyers. Here’s what you need to know.

More people are involved in the B2B buying process

There are between one and six people involved in the purchase process at 79% of companies that were surveyed, and 44% have formal buying groups or committees that review purchases. When you’re selling to a group, it’s harder to “sell” them on your product or service than it is with just one buyer. How can you deal?

Realize that in any group, some people’s opinions matter more than others. Using social media, online research, and real-world connections, dig up as much inside information as you can about the people involved in the buying process. The more you can learn about each person’s demographics (such as age, seniority, etc.) and psychology (challenges, attitudes, pain points), the more you can understand what they care about and what they’re looking for in terms of a solution. After identifying the most influential buyers in the group, get them on your side and they can persuade the rest of the team to buy your product or service.

B2B sales cycles are getting longer

It takes time to sell to B2B buyers, and some 61% of those in the survey say their sales cycle has gotten even longer since last year. No wonder: 45% are spending more time researching purchases than the previous year; 45% are using more sources to research and evaluate purchases (45%); and 41% are conducting a more detailed analysis of ROI before they make a purchasing decision.

Your B2B buyers now do a lot of their initial research online before they ever reach out to a salesperson. To capture their attention at this stage, develop content tailored to each type of buyer and each phase of the sales cycle. B2B buyers in different roles care about different things—for example, a CFO will be worried about cost, while a CIO will focus on technology. Different people also have different preferences for consuming information. For instance, millennial buyers might want to see videos, while baby boomers might prefer white papers.

Slow sales cycles don’t eliminate the need for speed

The B2B sales cycle may be longer than ever, but that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. B2B buyers say the bulk of the research, outreach, and evaluation involved in making a purchase occurs during the first three months of the sales cycle. In addition, 41% say their companies frequently accelerate purchases (or put them on hold) as a result of rapidly changing business priorities.

Still, two-thirds of B2B buyers say the timeliness of a vendor’s response to inquiries is a key factor in where they buy. Even if your prospective customers are dragging their feet, you need to be on the spot with messaging and content tailored to each buyer’s needs, industry, and challenges.

Originally published at All Business

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