Over time, buyers have changed, and sellers have had to follow. B2B salespeople have had to find new ways to create value for their ideal customers. Most sales organizations haven't paid attention to these changes. Nor have they recognized the new fundamentals now necessary for sales success.
Sales fundamentals are the core of B2B sales. While the traditional fundamentals are still important to sales success, without the new fundamentals, you will find selling to be difficult. In this article, we'll look at the new sales fundamentals and their importance, before exploring the B2B sales process, sales strategies, sales techniques, sales skills, sales management, and sales coaching.
Mastering the fundamentals is what separates the high performers from the salespeople that haven’t gained the competencies of the fundamentals.
Understanding the Sales Process
The sales process and the sales conversation that defines it is no longer linear. Instead, buyers expect salespeople to help them pursue their initiative.
The traditional view of the sales process unfolds in a series of steps, starting with targeting, followed by qualifying, discovery, solution design, presenting a proposal, negotiating, and winning the deal. The new fundamental is something closer to facilitating the buyer's journey, ensuring decision-makers and their stakeholders have the conversations to succeed. In The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales, you'll learn more about the 10 critical conversations that are part of the new sales process. Among these are new fundamentals that help salespeople create value for their clients. One that hasn’t been part of the traditional process is building consensus. Without this new fundamental, you can get all the way through the B2B sales cycle and lose deals.
In the new world of B2B sales, successful salespeople use value-creation strategies to differentiate themselves in the sales conversation. The new discovery call is client-centric instead of seller-centric. The major sales strategy in the traditional approach was to use a set of positioning statements to differentiate a B2B sales team's company and offerings, often inflating the difference between their products and those offered by competitors. Because there are more than enough companies in every industry, this approach leads customers to treat the sales rep and their company as a commodity. Another strategy to support value creation relies on business acumen. Modern sales strategies rely on a salesperson’s knowledge and understanding of the business landscape—and their ability to apply that to the business and challenges their clients and prospective clients are facing.
The list of modern sales techniques has grown to address the problems faced by modern buyers. An effective salesperson now needs techniques for time management, intrinsic motivation, emotional intelligence, goal setting, business acumen, prospecting, relationship building, value creation, differentiation, closing, consensus building, handling uncertainty, communication, presentations, and negotiations. You need techniques to help you achieve each outcome. The outcomes in bold are the new sales fundamentals, which may not exist on their competency model—if they even have one.
There are a set of essential sales skills that support the techniques that modern salespeople need. These skills start with securing commitments and closing, being consultative, resolving client concerns, prospecting, storytelling, diagnosis, using powerful questions, differentiating, creating a preference, business acumen, change management, and leadership. The ability to develop the sales skills and techniques to hit targets and achieve sales goals is another important skill.
Sales Management and the New Fundamentals
Effective sales management no longer comes from asking the sales force to increase their activity. Instead, sales leaders and sales managers who want to reach their goals need to focus on increasing their sales team's sales effectiveness. An increase in activity no longer improves sales. The words in bold throughout this article provide a list of areas where enablement is necessary.
Tips for sales managers: When your entire team needs to develop a sales skill or technique, the best approach is to provide sales training. Because each salesperson has different skills and different levels of success with techniques, you want a modern sales training approach that addresses the needs of the collective and individuals. The following section on sales coaching can also accelerate your results.
When you ask salespeople what they want from their sales manager, the most common answer is sales coaching. The reason this is at the top of their list is because they want to improve their overall sales effectiveness. The words in bold are often difficult skills and techniques and when mastered, lead to better sales performance and higher win rates.
Strategies for effective sales coaching: The first change sales managers should make is to always be coaching. You can coach your team in every interaction, whether it’s a team meeting or a conversation with an individual.
Because of the complexity of B2B sales and new fundamentals, sales leaders and their enablement teams need to reimagine sales training. You will not improve your results with check-box training that takes place on a single day. Changing the outcome from training to development will cause you to build a long-term plan to increase and improve the sales force's effectiveness.
It is more important than ever to train the sales force, especially when you look at the complexity of B2B buying and selling. There will be sales haves and have-nots, with the have-nots failing to adopt and master the new fundamentals.
The New B2B Sales Fundamentals for Beginners
As advanced as some of these fundamentals are, beginners need to build the sales competencies, skills, and techniques they will need to succeed in sales. The list provided here helps beginners and their managers identify what they need to develop.
The fundamentals of sales are the key components that make up the foundation of success for a salesperson. These fundamentals can include things such as building relationships with potential customers, developing a good understanding of the products or services being offered, honing communication skills, cultivating a positive attitude and mindset, and consistently following up with leads.
Taking the time to focus on improving these fundamentals can help to create better sales results and make a salesperson more successful.