Interesting comment was made by a b2b sales person last week. “This Customer just has to move faster for me or I’m done!”
Such a strong statement from a b2b sales person. (And, he actually meant it.) This reminds me of the person who said they hate rejection, yet, choose the sales profession to make a living. Confusing is the only thing I can think of about this.
The fact is in b2b sales, a long sales cycle is the name of the game – particularly with new prospects or companies who have never made a similar type of purchase in the past. Patience on the part of the b2b sales person is a true given – it is a necessary trait for long term success.
Let me add a couple of points to this thought.
First, when dealing with major account selling, the sales cycles are usually much longer than the smaller type accounts which actually seem to happen in a nanosecond by comparison. So the system of selling to large organizations with large dollars and/or volumes of products lead to a longer decision process.
Second, when a customer – organization or decision maker – has never made a particularly type of major purchase (with major change implications) the buying process can grind to a near halt by uncertainty and doubt. Here is where patience helps you make a sale since you can hang in with the decision maker explaining and sharing new information and knowledge. The key is to establish a strong trust bond with the decision maker. Then you have to share a larger number than usual of success stories for the decision maker to proceed in both their buying cycle and your sales cycle.
Third, then there is the difference between the corporate type buyers and the entrepreneurial type of buyers. They can be totally opposite in their approach to buying due to their major priorities. The Corporate type decision maker is all about sharing the risk with others and focusing upon being safe. Therefore, their job security is more important than making a unique buying decision. Then there are the entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in their world. They actually look for opportunities to gain a competitive advantage over others and are quite willing to make calculated risks when the deal makes sense. And, when they decide – they have decided. If yes, then get excited and implement the project. If no, then move on a find another target. Why? Because they are very independent and decide to do what they want to do – not what others tell them to do.
Finally, you have the behavioral style issue which is always in play in the world of business to business selling. Most sales people are hired due to their aggressive or assertive outgoing style, their directness and fast pace coupled with tons of self-confidence and a desire to control their own destiny. When you look at the buyers on the other hand, they are calmer and more introverted, less emotional and show little excitement or feedback. They are more indirect and slower to make decisions using a logically approach to decision making. A natural conflict occurs between these sales people and the decision makers.
There you have a few factors influencing the length of time necessary for a sales process to work properly. The key linking you to the long sales cycles is the trait of PATIENCE. When you have it, you can be more successful in major account selling. When you don’t have it, then the traditional short sales cycles working mainly with entrepreneurial decision makers is the best path for you.
Take a moment to reflect upon your personal level of patience. Do you have it or not? Say, you feel you have no patience in general. Think about ways you can flex if you are to be successful in major account selling, you need to break down each step into a larger number of mini-goals or milestones to accomplish during each call. This satisfies the need for a result to check off with each customer contact without becoming hasty or nasty in dealing with a slow decision maker.
If you are patient, then do not let others influence in a negative way by telling you to move faster and you need to close this account this week. One thing I have learned both the easy and hard ways, is the customer will only buy on their time lines – not our timeline. Patience wins the game more often in major account business to business selling.