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Research on B2B buyers shows they have changed how they buy. The biggest shift is that they do their own research before starting the sales process, and most would prefer to buy without having to speak with a salesperson. Buyers complain that salespeople don’t understand their business and their challenges, and that the sales experience doesn’t give them what they need.

Over the past few months, five large companies have contacted me with a concern about their sales forces. The problem: Salespeople can’t secure a second meeting. Instead, they have a first meeting and get ghosted, proving they failed their audition and leaving the door open for a better salesperson.

The average salesperson has a 17 percent win rate and many fail to reach their quota. When a sales force reaches their goals it is often because the few good salespeople overperform a pickup an increasing amount of slack.

The Evolution of B2B Sales

When buyers change, salespeople adapt to buyers’ needs. Between the uncertainty in the environment and the technology dominating every facet of our lives, including business, buyers are looking for a different sales experience.

Many sales organizations have been slow to make the changes buyers want and need. Once buyers have changed, they will not go back to an approach they no longer find valuable. Sales organizations need to change to meet their new demands.

Your Buyers Changed. You Didn’t.

Buyers need more from the salespeople that call on them. There are several factors that contribute to the poor sales experience that your buyers reject:

  • Sales productivity: Sales organizations believe their teams need to be more productive, so they turn to technology. You may have noticed that the larger a sales force’s sales stack, the lower their effectiveness. The promise of improved results through technology hasn’t proven true.
  • Legacy approaches: Few sales organizations have made the shift to a modern approach that buyers prefer. Leaders who are committed to the legacy approaches of the past make it difficult for salespeople to sell effectively.
  • Little interest in sales effectiveness: One reason sales leaders ignore sales effectiveness is that it isn’t easy to improve. It’s easier to install technology, even though it cannot boost sales effectiveness.
  • Misunderstanding the sales conversation: The most important variable in winning deals is the value the salesperson creates for their contacts. Sales reps who believe they are positioning their company and their solutions lose deals to competitors who understand what buyers need from the sales conversation.
  • The nonlinear sales process: Sales organizations that believe they can follow a linear sales process that starts with targets and ends with a won deal struggle to lead their clients and help them to build consensus.

First, Empty Your Cup

Bruce Lee told a story about a college professor who studied Buddhist ideas of enlightenment. This professor climbed up a mountain to sit with a master. As the professor started to talk about enlightenment, the master said, “Wait, first tea.” As the master poured the tea, the professor said, “Master, the tea is overflowing.” The master said, “Yes, to put in more tea, you must first empty your cup.”

What you know isn’t nearly as important as what you don’t know. What you do here isn’t what will get you there. People can cling so strongly to long-held beliefs that we struggle to question them. This limits our ability to grow. To succeed, people in sales roles must address their clients’ outdated assumptions, leading them to explore something new without clashing with their existing beliefs.

The Possibilities of Change

If other people can make changes that improve their results, you can do the same. It might require giving up what you know and developing new methodologies, new strategies, and sales techniques.

Not everything needs to change. Some of what you know is valuable and may remain effective. But, when compared to outdated approaches, new and more effective strategies may improve your win rates by creating more value for your clients.

Your buyers and decision-makers will not change to suit your sales process. Instead, they will look for salespeople who are helpful. When you change, you have a chance to make your clients want to buy from you. If you can’t accomplish this outcome, it will be difficult to create new opportunities and win them.

ChatGPT and You and Me

You might not know that some buyers are already using ChatGPT to explore your company, your strengths and weaknesses, your reviews, and how your competitors stack up against you. It’s the buyer’s world.

Look back over the last 10 years and list the changes you’ve made to how you sell. How do you create greater value in the sales conversation? How has your win rate changed? Calculate the impact of technology when generating net new revenue. The deals you lose because of an inability to create value are likely lost for several years. If you care about velocity, you can’t be happy waiting for your dream client’s three-year contract with your competitor to finally end.

See: Leading Growth: The Proven Formula for Consistently Increasing Revenue

Your Buyers Changed. Did You?

Leaving this article, reflect on the changes you notice when selling and how it impacts your results. Then explore the changes you might make to improve your sales results.

Post by Anthony Iannarino on June 10, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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