The pattern that occurs in sales conversations is one which tends to start with a discussion of challenges or better future outcomes, the exploration of potential ways those future outcomes might be obtained, the collaboration with concerned parties and attempts to gain consensus, the presentation and reviewing of plans and investments, the resolving of concerns and adjustments to proposals, a negotiation around value creation and capture, followed by a decision.
A pattern that looks like this is seen in B2B and B2C sales, even if there are differences from one to the other. It’s also true that even though the process is now more non-linear than ever in B2B sales, the parts still tend to exist, even if the pattern goes forward and backwards.
Where salespeople tend to get into trouble is to believe that variances to this pattern and its component parts means they can succeed while skipping steps and stages and conversations and commitments.
In a dozen deals where the salesperson sends and email with pricing and a proposal after a single conversation, skipping any and all conversations that may have allowed them to create value and a preference to buy from them, they win one of the deals. To this salesperson, they have proof that emailing pricing and a proposal is a process that works for them. The other eleven deals that were lost are somehow not evidence of a poor overall strategy.
A second dozen deals might start with an interested party who wants to explore some better results who finds their way to a salesperson in a role designed to qualify them. The salesperson asks the interested party questions about the seriousness of their interest, their willingness to spend money, whether they are really compelled to do something now, and if they can decide. Of the dozen deals, three of the interested parties being qualified show up for a demo with another salesperson, and one agrees to buy what the company sells.
The sales organizations that play the numbers game built on winning the one of out twelve deals believes it is a numbers game, that the leads are bad, that most prospects are sketchy and miss demos for reasons other than the fact that the process being employed to engage them creates too little value. They believe the one deal is what they should expect, even though they have eleven times as many reasons to believe it isn’t as effective is it might be.
The fact that something works once in a while isn’t evidence that it is the best way to have sales conversation.