The buying process is long and complex in B2B tech markets. Usually, the bigger the company, the more people are involved and the longer it takes. So where can a B2B salesperson trip up in this drawn out process? We’ve worked with some of the very best B2B sales people in the business and these 5 mistakes often come up in our conversations:
1. Failing to engage all stakeholders: Typically there are a number of people involved in the buying process – those who write the specs, those who control the budget, those who influence the decision, those who actually use the product and finally the ultimate decision makers – usually the CTO or the CEO. You have to identify who these people are in your prospective client and make every effort to meet them and strike a relationship with each one of these influencers. Countless salespeople have failed because they didn’t take the time to meet the people who specified what the product needed to do or managed to engage with everyone involved in the decision. Often your main contact may not want to give you this access — your job is to earn it.
2. Failing to leverage conversations with one stakeholder when talking to other stakeholders: If you’ve learned from the product user why he likes your product over that of the competition, you’d be foolish not to mention it when you’re talking to the buyer. It’s obvious but you’d be surprised how many people fail to leverage every conversation. The sales people we admire most are always listening, assessing and using their conversations to their advantage.
3. Failing to manage internal disagreements within the prospect: The people involved in the buying process are bound to have disagreements about which product or service to go for..Don’t wait for things to sort themselves out; they probably won’t and you’ll lose the sale. If you’ve spent your time well in the initial phase, getting to know the people involved in the buying process, then that’s your map for managing internal conflicts. Don’t leave this to your ‘champion’.
4. Failing to keep the prospect engaged: Sales cycles are long and slow, so it’s easy to lose focus. Are you allowing too much time to pass by between phone calls or visits? Keeping the momentum even if the prospect is slow to respond to you is important especially if competition is high. Our favourite sales people have a way of keeping the energy up and sounding like it’s a new sales call even if it’s in the ninth month.
5. Failing to make the value argument: If you find yourself haggling on price, you probably haven’t been effective in making the prospect understand your product’s value. Price should be one of the last things to be discussed not the first (as it often is). Good marketing can really help in defining the value proposition and communicating it clearly and simply. Too often tech companies disconnect marketing messages form sales conversations – the fastest way to get dragged into price haggling.
Of course, there are hundreds of ways to lose a B2B sale, but these five seem to lead the pack.
– Photo credit: Tim Green
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