What can you do to increase sales performance in these difficult times? It is essential to first identify the primary skills and attitudes that are negatively affecting your company’s sales performance. Most of these issues will be related to what I refer to as “comfort zones selling.” This article is targeted at companies that sell the business to business solutions, consulting, or services.
Are You Using a Business to Business Sales Strategy Effectively?
Many b2b salespeople continue to go through the same old sales process over and over again without really understanding the psychology behind complex buying decisions that can involve business-critical or value-add solutions. They get lucky sometimes, but not always. However, there are other b2b salespeople that seem to have more consistent “luck” in this field. They make their own luck by being more strategic and intelligent in complex sales situations.
This sales acid test examines the top 20 business-to-business sales growth killers that can derail a company’s efforts at improving sales performance. It applies equally to large corporations as to small and medium enterprises (SME). An experienced sales coach can provide a valuable outside perspective and new ideas that will help you to improve your sales strategy.
The Acid Test for Business to Business Sales – A Health Warning
This b2b sales acid exam focuses on only sales-related business growth killers. Other “people-related” business growth killers will be covered in a separate article. These areas are interdependent and inextricably linked. It may be helpful to think about them together if you want your sales strategy to be successful. Some of these sales issues will directly impact other business areas and vice versa.
This b2b sales test is not for everyone. It’s important to remember that you should make any changes that it inspires, but not as a revolution in sales. You should avoid trying to tackle too many issues at once, or you could end up with a disorganized and rebellious sales team. Consider hiring an outside b2b coach who has relevant experience in order to help you decide what to tackle (importance), when it should be attacked (urgency), how to approach it (the best approach).
Salespeople are at the heart of both the problem and the solution.
Market expectations tend to focus on the role and function a salesperson should play and how they should behave. Salespeople who are less experienced or weaker tend to follow this unfortunate stereotype. This is the real challenge, as conformity will guarantee mediocrity at its best. Because they know that such salespeople are not worth the time, no key decision-maker or influencer wants to spend any time with them. However, many will choose to spend time with a rare b2b salesperson who is trusted as an advisor.
There are many strategies that work for retail sales, business-to-consumer (b2c), and other sales channels that work for business-to-business (b2b), commodity sales. These strategies and approaches are almost all guaranteed to fail when it comes to selling b2b business-critical solutions, services, or value-add. A key decision-maker or influencer knows that their career depends on which supplier they choose. This leaves no room for salespeople whose only interest is to sell them something. These complex situations require a more credible and thoughtful b2b strategy. This will help you win the trust and confidence of senior players and create a decent chance for success.
B2B salespeople are more open to change. They may be more willing to adapt their behaviors and learn new skills, modify their attitudes, or try new approaches. If you want to improve your sales performance, these people will be more worth your investment. There will always be others who are unable or unwilling to step out of their comfort zone. The encouragement of these people to leave their current sales career and be replaced by more capable salespeople would improve their sales performance.
Let’s now move on to the sales acid test.
Below is a list of 20 sales-related growth killers I’ve seen in the last few years. Each of these can have a negative effect on a company’s overall sales potential. Many companies experience a combination of both that causes sales growth to slow down, stagnate, or even stop altogether. It is easy to believe that these things will go away, and managers might want to avoid any confrontations that could arise from trying to resolve such issues. This is where an external b2b coach can help.
The Top 20 Business-to-Business Growth Killers (in no particular order)
Concerning Prospective and Existing Customers: Please note that “client” can be used to refer to prospects or customers.
Presentations, demos, and trials, as well as proposals and bids, can result in poor returns.
Forecast order value reduction or slippage in sales forecasts.
Late-stage disappointments due to key forecast opportunities
Some clients are not responsive to proposals.
People who have no intention to buy may use you as a consultant.
I am spending time bidding for client projects that don’t get funding.
It is difficult to get in front of decision-makers or key influencers.
It is challenging to get clients to commit to the next steps.
Clients were keeping us at arm’s reach, preventing any genuine relationships.
We are not kept informed by our clients about any changes that could affect us.
Clients may not be honest with us, withholding information or lying.
Our clients see us as more of a product supplier than as a strategic partner.
Our clients expect our key value-add to be at minimal or no extra cost.
Sales negotiations often compromise our pricing and terms.
Too often, salespeople ask clients for discounts or concessions.
Existing clients are reluctant to meet with us on a regular basis.
Sales repulsiveness to involve management in crucial client relations.
Failure to attract enough customers due to inconsistency or weakness of the sales strategy
Many salespeople fail to meet sales targets or exceed expectations.
Famine or feast? Inconsistent sales performance.
Refer to the B2B sales acid test for your company
These issues could affect your sales organization and weaken any strategies you may use to increase sales performance. There is no perfect company, and most of these issues will affect every business in some way or another. It is essential to concentrate on the sales issues that are most damaging to your company, rather than trying to achieve total sales perfection.
It may be a good idea to take a realistic look at your business to identify the most critical sales issues. Don’t worry if there are more. These are the key areas to focus on in sales evolution. We will be more successful if we identify the most urgent and vital issues first and then work to address them over several months instead of weeks or days. If you want to improve your b2b sales strategy and grow it, hiring an external sales coach is a must.