2017 is well underway. Depressingly, it's not difficult to see what HASN'T changed when it comes to B2B sales practices.
But if we can all agree on what's wrong, at least that gives us an agenda of what to fix! The usual suspects are all here in this list of 7 deadly sins: engaging the customer too late; selling the steak and not the sizzle, and thinking that "relationship building" is the holy grail of sales, just to name a few.
Here's a full list of what we're seeing that's wrong in B2B sales - what we're calling the "7 Deadly Sins of B2B Sales" - and how to fix them...
1. Late engagement
Most B2B salespeople will wait until the customer knows what they want to buy before they engage. Or even worse - they wait until the customer contacts them. This increases competition, lowers margins, and reduces win rates.
Engage with the customer early - before they know what they want - in fact give them an insight that actually STARTS them on their buying journey (and then walk with them on their journey). Check out our white paper on why most B2B websites are ignoring 97% of their potential customers to understand what starts buyers on new buying journeys.
2. Selling products, not outcomes
No one needs a sales person who is just a "talking brochure". Real value for customers from sales people comes from their ability to "build the bridge" between the products they sell, and the business value these products/services can create for each individual customer.
3. Show up and throw up
Research indicates that, on average, during early-stage sales calls, a sales person talks around 80% of the time. This is inversely proportionate to what should be happening. Active listening, questioning - these are the critical early stage stage skills. 2 ears, 1 mouth - let's use them in that order. Customers are impressed by your knowledge of THEM - not of your company and/or your products.
4. Sales and Marketing silos
IDC research indicates that B2B sales teams reject up to 90% of what Marketing comes up with. Sales and Marketing need to walk arm in arm with the buyer along their buyer's journey. Focus on the buyer and what they need at each stage of their journey - much will be solved.
5. Asking customers what keeps them up at night
This solution selling approach has been terrific, but now every sales person is asking the same question. Modern buyers believe (rightly or wrongly) that they can figure out the solutions to their problems themselves. What they want is to be educated - the modern sales organisation needs to come up with unique insights to challenge customers' thinking.
6. Relying on relationships
Per the last point - customers want to be educated, and they don't need a "relationship" built to have this happen. Research indicates that the "relationship builder" is the POOREST performing sales profile - if buyers want a relationship they should buy a dog.
7. Believing customers
The nicer the customer, the higher the likelihood they will "fib" rather than give you the bad news that they don't want to deal with you. Selling time is precious - the need to qualify is critical - life is too short.
That's our list of the 7 deadly sins in B2B sales - and it's just a start. Do add your thoughts as a comment below - or drop us a line, and we'll be happy to include your thoughts in a future article or white paper.