For years with my sales consulting hat on I have pushed the notion that when selling a product or service that requires the B2B buyer to exercise some level of consideration, so it excludes the everyday, commodity purchase, there are only three ways to  get the sale:

    1. Demonstrate how your product can assist them to increase their sales
    2. Demonstrate how your product can assist them to reduce their costs
    3. Demonstrate how your product can increase their productivity.

This has worked well over a long period, in a wide range of situations, but recently the socilaisation of  business driven by the web has added a fourth headline sales driver that to date I have always included in the first:

Assisting a potential or current customer to grab an opportunity.

The world is changing so rapidly that a successful sales operation needs to understand very well the competitive and strategic environment in which their customers compete. In gaining and renewing that understanding, you will see opportunities for your customers that they may not necessarily see themselves. Whilst this is part of helping them increase their sales, the new tools of communication and collaboration that enable the development and leveraging of IP/IC are such that few can stay on top of them all. Therefore being a part of their business development process, by providing valuable insight, and perhaps a  view informed by a different perspective, will deliver a stronger relationship, and contribute value to the process that will translate into sales.