From win rates and quota attainment to prospective clients’ opinions of salespeople, all the important KPIs in B2B sales have collapsed all at once. At one point, technology held exciting promise for our industry. Now, it is ubiquitous and banal.
It is important to remember that selling is a series of conversations around the change that will help your client produce the better results they need. Your tech stack is not present in a face-to-face meeting. You must rely on your knowledge and your experience to create value for buyers and decision makers.
Sometimes it is easier to improve your sales results through via negativa, meaning taking something away, instead of adding.
Prospecting in the Past
There was a time where there was no email, text messaging, or large database with every human being’s contact information. This was a time before surveillance capitalism and before the internet.
In the past, salespeople had a smaller number of prospective clients they were responsible for acquiring. You could not email or text your contacts, nor would you be able to reach them on LinkedIn. You would use the telephone to call and book a first meeting.
There were no automated prospecting sequences. Instead, salespeople had to dial every number manually. When someone does something by hand, they tend to do it with greater care and professionalism.
A smaller list of dream clients and a telephone was all a salesperson needed to succeed. Take a cue from the past and start by removing everything in your prospecting arsenal.
Preparation for Sales Meetings
In the past, a salesperson would plan their sales calls. With no internet, you were left with the newspaper and Business First, or some other periodical that specialized in business news. There were trigger events, but a salesperson would have to pay attention to recognize them.
To know anything about the client, you would have to work to find information. Today, you and I live in a time where information is everywhere and easily acquired, but most sales reps don’t plan their sales calls or do the reading and the research needed to properly prepare.
You can improve your sales results by pretending that the information you can gain through reading and research is precious because you can use it to create value for your clients and position yourself as a potential partner.
The day I am scribbling these words, I have a face-to-face meeting with a large prospect. They are located an hour away from me. There is nothing better than sitting down with a contact and their stakeholders. In this case, there are five people on the calendar invite.
If you are still using a virtual selling approach with clients in your area, you can improve your sales results and your relationships by driving out to see them, even if they protest you need not make the trip.
If there were no pandemic and no video platforms, you would meet your client in person. You would likely meet more people and tour their facility. Doing this now will improve your odds of winning the client’s business, especially when your competitors don’t want to go to the trouble of having a face-to-face meeting.
Caring is, and always will be, a reliable strategy to win a client’s relationships and their business.
I can’t remember when pipeline coverage became a thing. I never had a quota that required me to have coverage. I was responsible for winning the clients I needed to reach my quota. When you see the average sales win rate is 17 percent, it might be because salespeople are responsible for creating opportunities that will live in the pipeline and that they have no chance of winning.
Sales managers ask their teams to lie to them and prove they have many more opportunities than they need to hit their targets. Despite having pipelines that are full of supposed opportunities, salespeople still miss their goals.
Sell like you live in the past, when winning mattered. It was enough to pursue real opportunities in your pipeline. Instead of worrying about coverage, remember that revenue doesn’t come from lost opportunities, whether the potential deals are real or make believe.
Take More Time
Sales managers want velocity. They want deals to come in fast and furious. If you wonder why salespeople are not nearly client-centric enough, it may have something to do with speeding up the sales process.
In the past, there would be no pressure to win today instead of next Thursday. Your goal was to win. Period. Speeding up means you are rushing your client through the sales conversation. Slowing down gives your clients time to acquire the information and insights they need to be confident in their decision. Giving clients time provides them with the certainty it is safe to buy from you.
One way to dominate a competitive sales situation is to spend so much time with your contacts that you leave little for your competitors. This is like a football team slowing down to run out the clock and deprive their rival of time. You can’t score if you don’t have the ball.
For Better Sales Results Look to the Past
If you want better sales results, look backward. There are a number of fundamental principles in this article worth observing: use the phone for prospecting, focus on a few potential clients, prepare for a face-to-face meeting, and take more time with your prospective clients. Taken together, these may reduce the coverage you need to reach your sales goals.
The ways of the past aren’t always better, but some of them can improve your effectiveness and boost your results in B2B sales. The techniques listed here can help you become a better salesperson and win more deals.