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Booking a first meeting can often be challenging. You either pass the audition or fail to create enough value to be considered as a potential supplier. If you pass your audition, after the second meeting is where things can get messy for many salespeople. This is the middle game, the meetings and conversations that occur after the first and second meetings, and before the end game.

You might want to pursue a linear sales process, one that allows you to move from one outcome to the next without interruption. However, this approach often finds your contacts and their teams pursuing their own agenda, as few clients are interested in following the legacy approach, which has little to offer them. Salespeople who still practice it are at a disadvantage.

Overcoming Challenges in the Middle Game of B2B Sales Process

There are several challenges in the middle game, making this part difficult for salespeople and their buyers. At about this time, your sales manager asks you for an update on your pursuit, and you are not sure to say. You are still engaged, but you don’t have a meeting for two weeks, and looking at your notes, you are not certain of what you need to do.

How to Handle Delays and Pushed Meetings in B2B Sales

One of the challenges of the messy middle is contacts pushing meetings out, killing your momentum. Even though you have a meeting on your contact’s calendar, you may feel like you are losing the opportunity.

Dealing with Missing Stakeholders during Key Sales Meetings

In the last meeting, you had four contacts in the room, all engaged in the conversation. But now there are only two contacts in the room, with two more missing. Is it because they are not interested, or did they get pulled into another initiative that requires their presence? Your contacts are still doing their work while you are working on their change initiative.

Adapting to Changing Priorities in the B2B Sales Middle Game

One of the worst difficulties in the middle game is a change in priorities. You get a call to tell you that the initiative is now on hold, as your contacts shift to another important outcome that is equally or more important than the opportunity you are helping them through.

Integrating New Stakeholders into Ongoing B2B Sales Conversations

Two people you have never seen show up for a meeting. They are highly interested in your opportunity. But because they haven’t been part of this conversation, they ask you to catch them up. You have no idea where to start and you are concerned about how much time it will take and what exactly they need to know to be able to move forward.

Strategies for Forging Consensus among B2B Sales Teams

In the middle part of your pursuit, you and your sales champion are trying to forge some kind of durable consensus that will pull you and your opportunity forward. But some people are not available for a meeting, and two members of their team seem to be dragging their feet, as they oppose the change initiative.

Navigating Unclear Decision-Making Processes in B2B Sales

You have asked about the company’s decision-making process without getting an answer. Your prospective client is struggling to tell you what that process looks like, as they don’t have any better guess than you. When your contacts get stuck, you get stuck.

Managing Budgetary Constraints in the B2B Sales Cycle

You have been in the middle for some time. You believed you were getting closer to the end game only to find that the budget that was going to your deal has been diverted to a senior leader’s pet project, one that no one believes is valuable enough to invest the time and effort.

Overcoming a Lack of Urgency in B2B Sales Conversations

It started with a bang is now something less than a fizzle. The urgency in the early game is no longer there. You continue to try to push the train back on the rails by reminding your contacts that they still have the problem, and their poor results should motivate them to act.

Addressing Uncertainty and Building Confidence in B2B Sales Deals

After all the time you have spent with your contacts, they are now tentative, pausing instead of deciding. The devil they have been living with is a known, and change will introduce a new and different devil, one that opens all types of fears that prevent a decision.

Counteracting Competitor Intervention in the B2B Sales Middle Game

The worst outcome in the middle game is a competitor gaining a foothold and causing the contacts to turn their attention to this Johnny Come Lately, who is all shiny and new.

The Unique Challenges of the B2B Sales Middle Game: Strategies for Success

It seems that the early game is easier than the middle game, as you are just at the beginning of the relationship and the conversation. It also seems that the end game is easier than the middle game, if you can successfully make it that far.

The end game is almost certain to include a negotiation, a signed contract, and a new client being onboarded. When the decision is made, you can get to the end game, unless your contact handed your contract to their legal team, in which case, you may as well take a three-month sabbatical, as your paper sits on the lawyer’s desk, as they wait for a leader to force them to address it.

One way for you to address the middle game is found in The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales. This methodology allows for more flexibility for the client with you leading them through the conversations they must commit to having, even if the order isn’t what you believe it should be. You will also find the language for each of these 10 commitments, which will help you navigate the middle game and reach the end.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on February 24, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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