No doubt this is the time of year where we are inundated with predictions for what will happen in the coming 12 months
Depressingly, it's not difficult to predict what WON'T change when it comes to B2B sales practices.
A morbid post - although if we can all agree on what's wrong, at least that gives us an agenda of what to fix up!
Here's my list - let me know yours and then we're going to write all the contributed predictions up into a whitepaper for next week's newsletter (with full credits of course):
- Late engagement - most B2B salespeople will wait until the customer knows what they want to buy before they engage - or even worse 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). Review our notes on "sales triggers" to understand what starts buyers on new buying journeys.
- Selling products, not outcomes - noone 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.
- Show up and throw up - research indicates that, on average, on early stage sales calls a sales person talks around 80% of the time. This is inversely proportion 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 my list - and it's just a start. Do add your thoughts as a comment - or drop me a line, and I'll be happy to add in your thoughts into our next whitepaper.
Also, if you would like to discuss your sales planning for 2014 and think I can offer some insights, don't hestiate to contact me to book in a complimentary 1 hour consultation.