How to Get Inside the Minds of B2B Prospects

These sales professionals maximize their potential with empathy
Written by Eva Roethler
May 6, 2021Updated: May 19, 2021
Chicago tech B2B sales illustration of a person looking out a keyhole inside of a pink brain
shutterstock

It’s fair to say that most people are not mind readers. However, successful sales professionals usually have the next closest superpower: empathy.

Generally speaking, most B2B companies are helping their customers solve more complex problems than a company that directly serves consumers. Getting inside these customers’ mindsets helps unlock the potential of B2B sales relationships, moving them from transactional to authentic. Selling solutions to complicated problems takes time, and understanding the client's point of view builds a solid foundation for that relationship to grow and become fruitful over time. 

Built In Chicago connected with B2B sales pros at three local tech companies for insight into how they build relationships with their customers. They explain how to uncover the unique perspective of decision makers, what their pain points are and how to genuinely help them. 

Chelsea Ochs
Mid-Market Account Executive

UPshow is an in-venue interactive entertainment and marketing platform serving fitness, hospitality, healthcare and other industries. 

What's the most impactful B2B sales strategy you're currently leveraging in your work? What makes this strategy so effective?

B2B sales is always about relationships. Many salespeople only look as far ahead as their next commission, so their interests fix on short-term gains that result in quick, low-value deals. Their relationships with their clients are transactional. 

You really need an appreciation for where people are coming from when you do business with them. You need to understand their needs and their perspective with genuine empathy before you start trying to sell them. When you do that, the relationship becomes long-term. It ceases to be transactional. Right now, I may be selling to a single-location gym, but in a year or two, that same gym might have five to 10 locations. It’s important to keep in contact and understand we’re part of the same community. Then, when my contact is in another position where the solution I offer is viable, they’ll remember that I took the time to truly understand them — and they’ll happily take my calls.

Tell us about a time when this strategy helped you close an important deal.

Relationship building is critical in the fitness industry. Outside of office hours, competitors in the fitness space regularly get together. They’re genuinely friends, even though they compete with each other. In this space, I regularly see long-time business owners sell their competing gyms to team up on a new, long-term project. 

So I do this, too. I’m heavily involved in my local fitness community. This allows me to see the industry from inside, as someone UPshow’s product ultimately serves, and from the outside, as someone who sees a need my product can fulfill. Armed with this understanding, I’m able to address the needs of fitness centers from an informed perspective, which makes all the difference.

 

Entrench yourself in the solution you have to offer. Remain passionate and confident, and your buyers will feel that energy. ” 

Throughout your career in B2B sales, what has been the most important lesson you've learned, and why?

If sales is about building relationships, then we need to bring patience and humility to those relationships, too. By being patient, I’m comfortable giving the relationship time to grow naturally. Fostering a relationship with a prospect can be a roller coaster, just like any other relationship. But by being patient with that relationship’s development, I never let my highs get too high or my lows get too low. 

Being humble as I work on my sales relationships opens me up to my prospects’ perspectives. Without those perspectives, at best I can’t sell a solution to them — and at worst, I’m that pushy car salesman who no one wants to talk to. By setting aside my own expectations, I can build a relationship that makes my prospect the focus. 

Entrench yourself in the solution you have to offer. Remain passionate and confident, and your buyers will feel that energy. 

 

Larry Rask
VP, Sales

Arity is a mobility data and analytics company focused on making transportation smarter.

Throughout your career in B2B sales, what has been the most important lesson you've learned, and why?

The top three things that come to mind are: solve a problem, add value and put the customer first. When you put the customer first and focus on solving a real problem they have or enable a real initiative they have, they are more inclined to see the value you are able to bring and willing to listen.

What's the most impactful B2B sales strategy you're currently leveraging in your work? What makes this strategy so effective?

We take a very much top-down approach when it comes to our B2B sales strategy. At Arity, we target executives within organizations with very specific messages around how our solutions can solve their specific needs. We take a less generic sales approach and are getting very specific to what their role is and how our solutions can solve their problems and current needs. By being very specific to the business needs within different organizations with our messaging, it allows us to articulate the value of Arity products in terms that are important to them and then gain a broader consensus and support for our solutions.

Arity VP of Sales Larry Rask on the most important tasks in B2B sales:

  • Solve a problem
  • Add value
  • Put the customer first

 

Tell us about a time when this strategy helped you close an important deal. 

We are currently working with one insurance carrier on a two-pronged deal. We were able to connect directly with the CEO of the organization and delivered a message that was important to him and his goals for the company. He immediately got Arity involved with the two departments that we needed to pitch: marketing and product. Because of that engagement with the CEO, we were able to get directly involved with two divisions that can benefit from our solutions and impact the CEO’s initiatives.

 

Vicki Roberts
Account Executive

Pricefx is a cloud-based software company offering pricing solutions.

What's the most impactful B2B sales strategy you're currently leveraging in your work? What makes this strategy so effective?

Listening to and understanding the needs of the customer. We sell pricing software that transforms a company, but the needs for each customer can be very different. You have to truly understand those needs and how your solution can meet them and provide improvement.

Tell us about a time when this strategy helped you close an important deal. 

I use this strategy in every situation. We are selling to companies that price chemicals, tires, building materials, high-tech chips and more. You have to clearly understand the customer’s business, their opportunities for improvement and what is driving the opportunity for change.

 

It’s about understanding and building trust with the customer, so they are confident that you will work with them to ensure success.”

Throughout your career in B2B sales, what has been the most important lesson you've learned, and why?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is it’s not about your product, your quota or your sales cycles. It’s about understanding and building trust with the customer, so they are confident that you will work with them to ensure success.

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