Good sales tools are important. And they can have a huge impact on your business. But your approach to sales — how you talk to prospects, how you connect with them and when you reach out to them can also have a huge impact. Understanding your prospect and improving the sales process from initial contact through lead nurturing to purchase is critical to reaching your sales goals.

Not sure you need to change your approach? Consider the following:

1. Your prospects know more about your company than you know about them.

Today, the majority of B2B buyers don’t contact a company until they’ve done their homework. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by DemandGen Report, over half of B2B buyers make initial contact with a company only after compiling a short list of candidates. This means customers know a lot about your company before they engage you. But what about you? How much do you know about them?

  • What whitepapers have they downloaded?
  • What parts of your site have they visited?
  • What emails have they read?

If you don’t know these answers, you need to find out. Today, lead nurturing software and platforms combine powerful analytics and tracking information that can be utilized to better understand who your prospects are and what they’re interested in. The more you know about your prospects, the better you’ll be able to engage them.

2. Thought leadership now outweighs relationships

It’s no longer about who you know, it’s about WHAT you know.

Every day, prospects seek answers to their business challenges and topics. In the same study of B2B buyers, close to 50% follow industry conversations regarding the topic and more than 40% research papers and postings from thought leaders. And 95% of recent purchasers indicated that the solution provider chosen provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.

3. Unbudgeted projects represent a large opportunity

B2B buyers also indicated that over one third of their recent purchases were unbudgeted. This reveals a huge opportunity. If your team is able to demonstrate the real and positive impact of your product or solution, customers will find a way to fund it. Don’t wait for a sales opportunity to arise. Create one.

It’s 2013 and your prospects have changed their approach to buying. Have you changed your approach to selling? If not, it’s time to reconsider your strategy.