The Age of the Customer is upon us.  And that is not hype as you know too well yourself if you have been trying to satisfy B2B buyers over the last few years.

B2B buyers today are more demanding, informed, value sensitive, and have more choices available to them than at any other point in history.  After taking a beating in 2008, and over the protracted course of this recovery, a permanent change has taken place in how B2B companies buy (think groups pooling their resources to solve big business problems), why they buy (to get a result you can prove you are able to help them achieve), and what they expect in the conversations and interactions with the companies who aspire to meet their needs (in a word, empathy).

So how are we doing?  At the Sales Enablement Forum in Scottsdale, AZ on March 3-4, we will reveal the results of our annual Executive Buyer Insight Study. 

For now, let me just say the answer is not better, yet.  Last year, when we asked respondents about their perception of the agenda of the sales people with whom they meet, 20% said either “they try to understand our challenges and offer suggestions” or “they are genuinely interested in partnering with us make sure our initiative is a success”.   In our recently completed survey that result dropped to 14%.

Which is why we have been researching and working with clients on a new approach to weaving together what all the folks in your company whose job it is to drive revenue do together to get back to growth.  This is the 21st Century Selling System we will also reveal at the Forum.  What is the key?

It’s a simple as it is complex.  What is simple is that you have to use your specific buyers, and a deep understanding of their roles, challenges and needs, to be timely and relevant in what you communicate. And you have to be personal to each person who is part of the buying team to get the context right.   What is complex is pulling this off across all of the teams and functions charged with helping achieve revenue growth.

So, we are running a different kind of event.  What we define and lay out on the main stage, the new selling system, we will then breakdown and go deeply into in each of three tracks.  To do that, for each track there will be a keynote speaker, who will then participate in his respective track so the audience can get into the details of what he or she did to execute.  And those tracks will be more like workshops, with a new framework introduced, followed by case studies and exercises so you can practice what you learn.  The pillars of the system, and thus the tracks, are Audience: who you sell to and how to profile them and use that insight to communicate on buyer’s terms.  Message: what you communicate and how to match what you create to meet the information needs of your buyers.  And Messenger: who does the communicating in person and what skills and competencies do they need depending on who you assign them to sell.

Which takes us back to making this simple.  If you and all the others in your company helping sales sell are on the same page on who you are selling to, captured in a way you can all use as your Rosetta stone of good taste in what to communicate and who to do that communicating, then our 2014 survey is likely to reflect some improving feedback from buyers. 

I look forward to seeing you and your peers in Arizona to start down the path to revitalized growth for your business, and changing the trajectory of our annual buyer survey too!