Several events and decisions have changed B2B sales in ways that harm sales organizations, salespeople, and their prospective clients. The problems combine to eliminate a domination strategy:
- Dominate Time: Dominating time provides the ability to build mindshare. It also provides time to develop a relationship with your prospective client.
- Dominate Presence: When you show up to your client’s location, you prove you care enough about the client and their results.
- Dominate Mindshare: The reason a salesperson must be One-Up is so they can help the client acquire the information and insights to make the best decision for their business and their results.
The Forces That Destroy Competitive Advantage
The following factors and forces that prevent you from dominating time:
- Contacts are time-starved and overwhelmed by their workload, making it difficult to add a sales call to their calendar.
- An ineffective sales approach fails to create value for clients and causes them to spend less time with salespeople.
- Sales managers increasingly prioritize velocity over winning, trying to rush the close instead of ensuring their salespeople get there.
- Sales leaders demand coverage that causes salespeople to create more opportunities, leaving them less with their prospective clients.
If you want to build a sustainable advantage in sales, and dominate the client’s time, you first need to trade value for it. Once you have a first meeting, you need to perform well enough that you can command a second meeting. Your client will give you the time you deserve, if they find the conversation valuable.
What is more difficult is sales managers trying to take time away from the opportunity. Instead of investing more time in helping the client, many sales managers require their team to create more coverage. Larger and more complex deals require more time, and if you aren’t spending time with your prospective client, you can’t dominate their mindshare. If more coverage would ensure you reached your goals, you’d already have succeeded. Adding more opportunities without giving your existing contacts time and attention isn’t a good idea.
of the following factors and forces prevent you from having a dominating presence:
- The pandemic caused people to avoid meeting face-to-face, reducing the ability to have a presence. Some of us who understand the importance of dominating presence still met with our clients. Again, some of your prospective clients could not have face-to-face meetings, so you needed to meet within their requirements.
- Since the pandemic, technologies have been widely adopted that prevent salespeople and their clients from meeting face to face. A lack of presence is part of the transactional approach many sales organizations use, believing they are being efficient.
- Over time, your prospective clients have lost any interest in legacy approaches that create no value and don’t provide them what they need to move their initiatives forward.
- Sales leaders prevent their sales force from traveling to their client’s site due to the time it takes to travel.
- The new sales models have young people in the role of SDR or BDR, which limits their understanding of the entire sales conversation.
- Young, introverted salespeople are uncomfortable in face-to-face meetings and avoid sitting across the table from their contacts.
At the end of 2021, four senior sales leaders told me they would no longer use their budget for travel. Instead, they told me they would hire more SDRs, which had worked during the pandemic. One leader shared that he was pursuing a $10 million deal in New York City. The salesperson could not travel to New York, even though their competitor on the deal was there. I suggested that a lack of presence would prove the competitor cared more because they made the investment to walk through the prospective client’s server farm with their contact.
Young people who take sales roles with no interest in face-to-face meetings are having their development stunted. Combined with the increasingly transactional approaches used in B2B sales, their organization’s policies will prevent them from becoming anything more than an SDR or BDR. A full-cycle salesperson enables the transactional approach, which means low-paid reps are responsible for qualifying and booking meetings for a more experienced salesperson.
The following factors and forces prevent you from dominating mindshare:
- A lack of business acumen prevents the salesperson from being consultative.
- Professional development fails to result in the salesperson being an expert or an authority.
- A lack of reading and researching and little interest in development hold the salesperson back from understanding people, the business world, and their industry.
- Salespeople are unable to provide their contacts with the information and insights they need.
- Sales leaders insist on a legacy approach that creates no value for their clients.
The concept we call One-Up means the salesperson has more experience and knowledge than their clients. This is true because the salesperson helps clients with these decisions every day, while the client rarely decides to make the changes. This information disparity allows the salesperson to create value for their client and dominate mindshare.
Too few salespeople can dominate mindshare, an element that leads their client to prefer to buy from them. When a salesperson only knows as much or less than the client, they will not dominate mindshare.
The New Advantage in B2B Sales
If you want a way to build a sustainable advantage in B2B sales, you might start by working your way back to how we sold in the past. By reversing the factors and forces that now prevail, you can create a new advantage, especially as every important KPI is falling with no end in sight.
Few sales leaders will do the work to build a sales program that will have their team dominating time, presence, and mindshare. Most will structure their program in a way that prevents them from winning deals. Those who want to dominate will need to look to the past to do so.
Leaving this article, review how many forces and factors show up in your sales force. Assess how these factors may harm your sales force from dominating and winning more than your fair share. Then start to make adjustments that will provide you with a sustainable competitive advantage.