B2B buyers have raised their standards. They now resist the self-oriented legacy approach to sales, which are typically designed by a marketing team. When your sales conversation doesn't create value for your prospect, it provides a poor and inadequate B2B sales experience. The more you focus on selling your products and services, the more you lose deals. You need a better sales style.
The standard B2B sales process wins little praise from buyers. Decision makers no longer comply with the linear process from target to close. This is one of the ways that sales is broken. It also causes longer sales cycles.
Winning deals requires you to provide a B2B sales experience that is better than that offered by your competition. To improve the sales experience, there are five outcomes sales teams need to create. Let's look at a few strategies you can use to create a differentiated experience that wins deals.
When you make a B2C sale (business to consumer), you have little to worry about. But when B2B businesses purchase something important to their business, they want to be certain they make a good decision. My good friend, Charlie Green will tell you that the trust equation is:
Credibility × Reliability × Intimacy ÷ Your Self-Orientation
There are two ways you create value for your clients. The first way to create value is through the sales conversation, a subject we'll explore in greater detail soon. The second way is to solve their problems and improve their results.
Strategy: To improve your B2B sales experience, focus on your client and their needs throughout the entire sales conversation. This is what the modern sales approach recommends. It's more important you create a preference to buy from you than trying to position your company and your offerings.
Sales enablement often lacks methods for helping salespeople understand a client's business, including what challenges they have, and their needs around the buyer's journey. One test you need to pass is understanding the client and their business.
The extreme rarity of sales reps with business acumen causes buyers to feel as if most salespeople are inadequate to offer them advice and recommendations. It is impossible to be a trusted advisor without being able to prove that you can offer valuable, consultative advice. The chasm between sales and marketing grows larger. For example, a case study is a marketing strategy, not a sales competency. This is critical to compelling change and executing a competitive displacement.
Strategy: Work to become a business advisor. Work to acquire the business acumen you need to provide a consultative approach. If you need help with business acumen, here is where you find help.
When the book, The Challenger Sale was released, Neil Rackham shot a video asking if a prospective buyer would pay for their meeting with a salesperson. There may not be a better test or a better way to think about value-creation strategies. The question to ask yourself is What could you deliver that your client would value so much they would open their checkbook?
Your sales conversation scores points with your clients when they feel they are learning something about their business, the nature of their challenges, why their results are inadequate, and what they need to consider to be able to make a good decision and generate the strategic outcomes they need. A consultant doesn't pitch their company and their services in a meeting with a client. Instead, they consult and prove they are worth hiring.
Strategy: Don't mention your company, your clients, your results, or what you sell. Instead of asking questions about their challenges, teach them why they have them.
There is a problem with buyers’ personas. Your contacts are not their personas. They are individuals that cannot be conflated with an ideal customer profile. Treating someone like a persona will create a poor sales experience. When trying to build relationships with decision-makers and stakeholders engaged in the buyer's journey, you need to see them as individuals.
In one large deal with 14 stakeholders, three had different needs. To win the deal, my sales strategy was to spend a couple of hours with each stakeholder. I asked them to walk me through their facilities. I took careful notes on their needs, and a customized our approach to give each one exactly what they needed. In doing so, I beat the largest competitor in the industry.
Strategy: Build relationships with the people who you are working to help. Don't try to build rapport too early in sales meetings. When you have finished creating business rapport, get to know your contacts on a more personal level over time.
One of the ways you create a better sales experience for your contacts is by being a good and consistent communicator. These are two outcomes. The first outcome is good communication. The second outcome is consistent communication.
Good communication means it's worth the client's time. What you communicate and how you deliver impacts the sales experience. A face-to-face meeting is more powerful than a video conference. A video conference is greater than a phone call. An email communicates you are transactional and a poor communicator.
Strategy: Be an inefficient communicator by using the medium that creates a better sales experience for your contacts.
Winning Deals and the B2B Sales Experience
The best way to increase your win rate is to focus on your sales effectiveness. The better your client's sales experience, the more you are creating a preference to buy from you and your company. The salesperson who creates trust, understands the client and their business, creates value, builds relationships, and provides excellent communication is well positioned to win their client's business.
No matter what you sell, how you sell is the largest variable to your success in B2B sales. This makes sales effectiveness and modern sales strategies and tactics the most important initiatives for improving your results.