How To Put Buyers First During Pandemic From LinkedIn Research

Oct 06, 2020

By Henry DeVries

Are you practicing good business development or bad business development?

Some recent comprehensive research at LinkedIn examined 10,000 different perspectives from sellers and buyers around the world.

“Some companies are absolutely in distress mode,” says Alyssa Merwin of LinkedIn. “There are other companies that are frozen and they're trying to figure out how do we adjust and adapt our business to this new environment and figure out a way forward. And there are other companies certainly that are thriving in this environment and are well-positioned to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of them.”

Recently I interviewed Merwin, vice president of sales solutions, North America at LinkedIn, where she oversees a team of 350 sales professionals. Merwin has nearly 20 years of experience connecting buyers and sellers and is dedicated to helping sales professionals modernize their methods and mindsets.

Of course, she noted buying and selling today looks vastly different than it did in early 2020.

“There really is starting to be a bifurcation between good behavior and bad behavior,” says Merwin. “And that's something that we want to encourage sellers to think about, which of those camps are you in?”

Are you a good seller or a bad seller? Are you being naughty or nice? The good and nice thing to do is to put buyers first.

Research at LinkedIn indicates there are four key ways that sellers can put the buyer first: 

Learn, then deliver helpful content. You do not necessarily have to write original content, but sellers need to build their brands by sharing content. “That's going to help bring credibility and add value to the demographic they want to engage,” says Merwin. She notes that each buyer’s situation is unique, and there are nuances to the challenges they are faced with. Get curious. Ask questions to understand their industry, business and role, what they’re solving for, what success looks like for them, their timing, their dependencies, and their process. Offer help, not hype.

Share readily. “Salespeople need to come better equipped to the conversations with a perspective to share with an insight,” says Merwin. “It can't be all about making the deal.” She advises sellers to share trends, insights and learnings specific to the buyer’s industry that show you’re an expert and build trust. 

Solve before sell. “In our research one of the most stark differences that we found was the difference between what buyers want and what sales managers are prioritizing,” says Merwin. “An example of this is that from a buyer perspective, the number one skill they value in building trust in a relationship with a seller is active listening. That is the number one requested skill. Guess where that ended up on the sales manager priority list? It is laughable number seven.”

Earn trust. “We're seeing 40% more people making warm introductions, which we would advocate as a good selling behavior,” says Merwin. Build a trusted relationship by acting consistently in the buyer’s interest during each step of their journey. Invest in the long term, even if it means sacrifices in the short term. Merwin advises to become a trusted advisor by listening to the buyer’s specific challenges, and crafting solutions that help them achieve their goals, and by surfacing new opportunities that show them what is possible.

The challenges that each buyer is facing may look different, but one thing is consistent: buyers need to feel confident that you understand their challenges and goals. In the end, you are not necessarily selling a product or service, you are selling a trusted relationship, and the person at the center of that relationship is the buyer.

“We absolutely need to be showing up with the right content and being able to address the threats that all of our businesses are under,” says Merwin.

The post about “How To Put Buyers First During Pandemic From LinkedIn Research" first appeared on the Forbes website.

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