Recognizing the 3-E’s a Customer Wants in B2B Sales

Musing on the topic of “What do Customers Want When Assessing a B2B Sales Person or Company?”

This topic seems to lack any clarity regarding what customers want and relating that to what they are willing to pay when they find it?

Okay, I’m back to the world of reality now, so let’s look at exactly what your customers are thinking about when they become aware they need help and assistance to move forward. It really is quite simple once you realize you can categorize what they are looking for from you.

The Three E’s provide the clarity of their want and then you can position yourself or your company to meet those wants. So, what are the 3-E’s? Let’s take a look at the Three E’s… 

The Three E’s of Customer Wants

  1. Expertise
    Here is the top of the pyramid for you to join. When the customer is looking for Expertise they know their issue is complex and they need someone who can help them differentiate themselves in the competitive markets. They want a unique solution tailored to their specific situation – no general ideas or solutions – they want to set themselves apart from everyone else and thereby gain an advantage. There is little negotiation and they expect to pay top dollars to get exactly what they want. Think huge value added when you deal with this type of buyer.
  2. Experience
    They know there are a number of possible alternatives for their issue, however, safety begins to overwhelm their thinking. Therefore, they want to work with the B2B Sales Person who has an excellent track record in delivering results in their area of need. Again, the issue could be complex and of a large scale – yet, they realize this is not necessarily a unique situation – only one they need some help and guidance for delivery. Expect to prove your level of working experience – examples, case studies, testimonials and white papers on the issue are examples of things you will need to show your experience within the area of need. Also, since they know or feel your solution is not as unique, expect to negotiate terms a little harder with ROI data (again linked to your experience level and knowledge.) become important to you. Also, expect to have to compete with others for this contract, thus the more you can show your experience the higher your probability for success.
  3. Efficiency
    This is where the most common b2b sales opportunities come into play. These wants or needs are more common, usually simple in concept, and can be all over the place regarding volume or size of the contract. What the buyer or customer is looking for is a stable system that works efficiently without a huge learning curve. In other words, they want a simple solution to what they feel is a simple problem or situation. You should expect a number of competitors to be involved and price will be a major factor in this contest. Negotiation skills become a key factor for your sales success. Remember, the customer sees this solution as a common situation with routine written all over it – therefore, it could even be an area where they believe outsourcing can a method of choice. There is basically no differentiation in their minds regarding the level of uniqueness to be offered – which means it is a harder sell for you if your solution is truly unique. Major issue for you is these customers will be more price sensitive therefore margins will be tighter. So you need to decide if this is a type of customer you are willing to take on and service relative to the low margins expected?

There you have the 3-E’s used by your buying customers to group their wants. Each E category has their specific set of possibilities including high to low margins, heavy negotiation to no negotiation, the level of differentiation needed to win the account, and whether the situation is simple or complex.

Take this information and do a quick review of your current customer list. Assign an E factor to each customer. What do you find from your review? Do you only have one E in play or all three? If ALL your customers are in the Efficiency level, then you are probably selling your offerings as a commodity with low margins tried to each account.

Your goal should be to spread your efforts into all Three Categories. Thus, you will have higher margins and more fun using your creativity to win your accounts.

Oh, if all your account are in the Expertise Category – congratulations. You are probably in ranks of the B2B Sales Superstars and racking huge sales numbers with corresponding huge margins. Life is good at the top, with one exception.

The exception is your competition will be attempting to copy what you are offering so competition will rise it’s ugly little head soon. Keep working on improving your offerings to stay well ahead of your competitors. Your goals will be to continue to set  the curve – or benchmark – for performance and excellence. Always set aside time to plan and create new ideas for your competitive advantage.

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Voss Graham

Sr Business Advisor / CEO at InnerActive Consulting Group Inc
Your Knowledgeable Partner for Business Success and Achievement. Dedicated to helping others get to their next level of success. Award winning business advisor; coach to executives and business owners; Business Growth Strategist; and experienced using assessments for hiring & selection, evaluation of teams and improving communication. Voss is available as a Speaker for your conferences or company meetings contact him at 901-757-4434 or use the LinkedIn or Facebook direct messages.

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