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"No one wants your drill." Harsh, but it was the honest feedback I gave a cold caller. Here's the shift B2B sales needs to make...

I take a lot of cold calls as a professional courtesy. As someone who makes cold calls and has others do the same, it's fair for me to pick up the phone (unless the area code is mine, which means the call is coming from India). Getting a prospective client to take a call is becoming one of the more challenging aspects of B2B sales.

It's rare that I happen to need what the salesperson is selling. But because the person is on the phone, I give them a small bit of advice on how they might improve their pitch.

The person that called me yesterday had been selling for four years, and he was doing okay. He sold a track that his company customized to replace hold music. But the way he proposed his solution was like he was selling a drill instead of a hole. My advice was to pitch their offering by explaining that they could provide information that would help the person learn something while they were waiting to pick up.

I explained that no one wants to buy his offering; instead, they want the outcome of their solution. He riffed on three or four use cases with no trouble understanding the change he might make. Later, he sent me an email with a subject line that read “drills and holes.”

Understanding Why You Sell Drills: Shifting B2B Sales Perspectives

The gaslighting about your solution begins during your onboarding. Two things are certain on your first day of a new sales job. First, you will learn all about your new company, including a history lesson on what makes them different and better than their competitors. Second, you will be taught, trained, and, if necessary, hypnotized into believing your solution is the very best on Earth and, perhaps, in the known universe.

Later in your B2B sales training, your company will want you to ask questions that cause your contact to confess they have a problem so you can spring into action and start singing the praises of your solution. Unless you are into competing by proving you and your competitor’s solutions have parity, you would be better off differentiating yourself by creating value in the sales conversation. This means pushing the topic of your solution later.

I want you to believe your company is a good company doing good work. I also want you to believe your solution is outstanding. But I don’t want you to believe that these variables lead to success.

Mastering the Art of Selling Holes: A Guide to Value-Driven B2B Sales

It’s funny to think about selling a hole, an empty space. In Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers away from Your Competition, you will find a strategy you may have never encountered. We call this strategy Level 4 Value Creation. This strategy finds you talking about the strategic outcome, rather than the solution that produces those strategic outcomes. Let me make this clear for you, so you can execute this approach.

  • No sales leader wants to buy B2B sales training. They want to buy greater win rates.
  • No sales leader wants to buy B2B sales training. They want to buy quota attainment.
  • No sales leader wants to buy B2B sales training. They want to achieve their sales goals.
  • No sales leader wants to buy B2B sales training. They want to buy a sustainable strategic advantage.

If you want to improve your ability to sit across from leaders who you hope to help, you will need to recognize they have an easier time understanding outcomes (holes) and are bored by solutions (drills). If you are new to sales, you may need to ask senior sales reps to help you identify the strategic outcomes your clients buy.

If you are an experienced salesperson, you should have a list of the strategic outcomes your clients need. This approach will make you clearly different from your competitors, most of whom would never spend the time to read a 1,000-word article about how to improve their effectiveness in sales.

Strategically Pitching Your B2B Clients: Focusing on Outcomes Over Solutions

I know you have been taught and told not to pitch your client. There is nothing wrong with pitching your client, but only if you are making the right pitch.

If you will pitch your prospective clients, don’t pitch the solution (at least not first). Instead, pitch the outcomes the solution is designed to provide. You may scramble your client’s mind by moving past the solution and right to the outcomes, and you may need to resuscitate the poor contact who finally found a salesperson who focused on the outcomes instead of the solution.

Leaving this article, if you are a salesperson, you may want to study this important sales strategy. If you can, make a list of your client’s strategic outcomes. If you are a sales leader, use your weekly meeting to talk through how you might make the changes that will improve your sales team’s effectiveness and win more deals.

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Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 22, 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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