How to Sell to a Hybrid Buyer: 6 Tips for Success

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As the pandemic stubbornly refuses to end, we’ve had to adapt and embrace new models of working and living. “Hybrid” isn’t just a climate-conscious car anymore; it’s now come to describe the way we work and do business. 

For salespeople, the shift to digital has always been inevitable, albeit slow-moving. A new sales model has emerged since the start of the pandemic that sales reps need to be aware of: the hybrid buyer. The B2B buying process has changed dramatically, and the B2B buyer with it. So, who is the hybrid buyer? How are their needs different from the previous in-person sales calls? What does this mean for the future of sales? 

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The hybrid buying process

The hybrid buying process is a combination of human and nonhuman processes that make up the buying experience. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. 

A recent research report from Forrester found that in 2019, the average buyer participated in 17 interactions before making a purchase. Those interactions include researching a product, reading marketing materials, sifting through competing offers, or engaging directly with providers. If you think 17 steps sounds like a lot of work to close a deal, get this: In 2021, Forrester found the average number of buying interactions jumped to 27.

What’s more, Forrester reports more people than ever are engaging in the B2B sales process, with 63 percent of purchases involving four or more people. Gone are the days of dealing with a single buyer; now, sales reps have to cater to buyer groups. Almost all of these conversations are taking place digitally. 

Don’t be fooled – these numbers don’t mean the hybrid buyer is any less informed about your product or service. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: The hybrid buyer conducts an unprecedented level of research. Now that the purchasing process takes place largely over the internet, buyers are seeking out any and all resources before engaging directly with a sales rep. They’re searching forums, attending webinars, quizzing their peers and googling like crazy to head into sales conversations armed with information. 

 

What’s a seller to do? 

OK, now we have a pretty good idea of what the hybrid buyer looks like and the lengthy purchasing experience they go through. If you’re a salesperson, you’re dealing with more people and more interactions, most likely in less time. How can you meet your prospective customers where they are and adapt to their needs? Here are 6 tips to help you best cater to the hybrid buyer. 

1. Sell the problem you solve 

First, you must anticipate your buyer knows more about your product or service than ever before—maybe even more than you! They’ve scoured the internet to make sure this is the right decision for them, so your conversations should be less about educating and more about seeking to understand what your buyer already knows they need to ultimately solve their problem. As the seller, you need to know why, after all their research, they’ve decided to engage with you, and you need to communicate to your buyer that they made the right choice! 

2. Get personal

Before talking to you directly, your buyer has spent a good chunk of time on the internet, reading and crunching numbers and watching webinars and visiting peer review sites like G2. When they’re on the phone with you, remind them you’re an actual human by getting to know them as an actual human.

If they mention a personal hobby or recent family vacation, remember it and use it to your advantage. You bringing up the buyer’s obsession with knitting two phone calls after they mention it the first time will be a welcome reprieve from the infinite, impersonal sprawl of the internet. They’ll appreciate the conversation being genuine and organic, and may knit you a thank-you gift! 

3. Think about the long term

If you close the deal your relationship will go far beyond the first buy, so make sure you’re thinking about the relationship in the long term too. Can you add value to their social posts or offer to mentor someone on their team? What substance do you bring to the table outside of your product or service? It’s these human elements of the sales process that your hybrid buyer is missing out on, so make sure you demonstrate your value as a person they’d like to get to know. 

4. Embrace the ride-along

If you manage a team of salespeople, you need to equip them as best you can with everything they need to navigate the hybrid buyer world. Update your training curriculum and recruitment process. Create opportunities for greener sales reps to participate in ride-alongs with veteran sellers through digital channels like Zoom and Slack, and encourage them to watch recordings of your calls and meetings. Your sales reps don’t just need to know what your product is; they need to know how to talk about it. 

5. Lean on your teams

Internal relationships between sales teams are crucial as well. Gen Z sales reps entering the workforce are members of the first digitally native generation; if anyone’s going to have new and innovative ideas about how to connect in a hybrid world and create organic relationships virtually, it’s them. 

Boomers, Gen Xers and millennials in the sales world should make an effort to connect with younger folks on their teams to foster collaboration. Think of how you connect your team to your buyer’s team members, and help cultivate trusted relationships on both sides

6. Make multimedia your friend

With the majority of interactions taking place online, you need to take extra steps to stand out in the crowd. Multimedia is your friend! Try recording a video to include in your next email and show your buyer you have a personality. At Salesloft we recently analyzed hundreds of millions of sales interactions, and found that including a video in your email can boost reply rates by 25 percent! 

 

Now, go sell! 

The hybrid buyer—and seller—are both here to stay. While technology has opened up a world of possibilities for today’s B2B buyer, it’s ultimately your personality and human connection that will give you an edge in today’s landscape. Don’t be afraid to use them!