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Discover how the B2B sales landscape has evolved and why businesses must adapt to these changes to thrive. From building rapport to understanding client expectations, this comprehensive guide takes you through the key aspects of a successful sales transformation.

Given a long enough timeline, things change. B2B sales evolve when the environment changes and decision makers and buyers need something different. Yet, there are some who cling to the way things have always been done, afraid they will lose deals. Much of my work involves helping sales organizations execute a sales transformation. You may or may not yet know what some of these changes are, or whether you should make changes.

Rapport Building in Modern B2B Sales

There was a time when you might have been able to sit down with your contact and engage in small talk, asking about the picture of their family and where they went to school. The gregarious salesperson will have a tough time not using their charm, wit, and interest to score points in the first few minutes of the meeting.

Over time, decision makers were overwhelmed by the amount and the nature of their work. When you start with rapport, you are likely to annoy them. You may also project that you are a time-waster, the one thing your contact was trying to avoid.

There are two things you need to know. First, you should wait until the end of your meeting to build rapport. Second, and equally important, you should be creating business rapport throughout the conversation. You and your contact may end up as friends, but that comes later.

Effective Discovery Techniques in B2B Sales

At one time, discovery would have you asking questions to acquire the information you need to assess the client’s problem and their pain point. Once you had elicited the client’s problem, you would explain how your solution is the best way to solve it. For those of you who haven’t noticed, discovery has changed.

While you will still need to ask questions to learn something, if you do all the asking, your discovery isn’t going to help you win the client’s relationship and their business. What has changed about discovery is that your contacts are doing their own version of discovery. Much of the time, the questions your clients ask can improve your discovery, allowing you to help them understand what they need to know to push forward with their change initiative.

You need to know that discovery is more a collaboration, one that finds you and your contacts working together to make certain both parties have the understanding they need to succeed.

Meeting Modern Client Expectations in B2B Sales

In the past, a salesperson might have been able to share information about their company, flash a four-color slide of logos, and sing the praises of your solution. If this is your current first meeting, you are not going to secure a second meeting. Our environment is far too difficult for the legacy approach.

Today, and in the future, your clients expect that you are an expert and authority in your industry. When a contact and their team is working to change their business in some meaningful way, they want someone with the experience and the knowledge to lead them to the better results that caused them to change.

Embracing a Consultative Approach in B2B Sales Strategy

This second change in B2B sales is an expectation that the client has when it comes to the sales conversation. Many of our brothers and sisters in sales still haven’t adopted a consultative sales approach. You are welcome to stick with the outdated approaches that have you pitching your solution far too soon, but your win rate will reflect that.

When we talk about being consultative, we are suggesting that a salesperson can counsel their clients, providing the advice and recommendations their contacts need to ensure they can improve the business result they are seeking. Between client expectations and your consultative approach, you are likely to win the client’s business.

Building Client Confidence and Certainty for B2B Sales Success

I am certain your company is a good and successful company. It is also true that your solution is world-class, capable of producing the result your prospective clients need. Even though these two things are true, they aren’t enough for you to win, as your company and solution are table stakes. Your contact needs something more, something most have never been taught in B2B sales training. What your contact needs is also unlikely to show up on the list of sales leaders' top concerns.

Your clients need you to provide them with the confidence and the certainty that will allow them to move forward with a decision to change. Any fear of failure will cause your client to move on to another salesperson who is able to check this box.

Decisions over Solutions

Many salespeople still believe their solution is the variable that will allow them to win the client. If you believe this, this is going to sting. As good as your solution is, your competitors have equally good solutions. There may be a chance that your solution is the right fit for a client, but your competitor may have a better fit on a different deal. If you want to win, you must shift your focus to decision making.

If this is the first time you are encountering the idea that decision making is more of a factor than the solution, welcome to B2B sales today. If you want to win at a higher rate, you will sit next to your sales champion and help them understand their decision, the factors that matter most, and the changes their company will need to make to ensure success.

If you are a salesperson, start to notice these changes and consider what you’ve seen other clients do. If you are a sales leader, you may want to share this with your teams. You may also benefit from joining salespeople on large client calls to see for yourself how things have changed. In either case, do good work.

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Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 21, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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