While taking some time off, I was reflecting upon the issues that hinder success in b2b sales. My thoughts ran the gambit of possible issues including hiring and selection of high quality b2b sales people – sales training and development using the right processes for your industry – quality of sales leadership – the rules, policies and structure of an organization – and finally compensation or incentive programs.
In the long run, I narrowed it down to five major pitfalls to b2b sales success
1. No Sales Process –
When there is no well defined sales process sales results will suffer. Worst, the sales numbers will not be covered each reporting period. Why? Because no one will have a way to measure progress within an account development process. Who to call on? What steps usually lead to b2b sales success? The interesting side note to this point is – ALL SALES IS A PROCESS. If you learn the process, you will know what to do next with each account. Simply the complexity.
2. Lack of Essential B2B Sales Skills –
Old school sales training is heavily influenced by the short term sale situation and usually relates only to small ticket one time sales situations. B2B Sales People need a different mindset leading them to master should essential skills as using the Questioning Model; Effective Communication techniques, Building Rapport with everyone you meet; More powerful benefit and advantage driven presentations; understanding the sales process and tracking sales projects within a pipeline; and effectively using technology to maximize your efficiency.
3. Lack of Performance Tracking System –
This one is a real challenge for both sales leaders and the actual b2b sales people. Why? Because it takes time to measure and track sales opportunities and the progress made on each opportunity. Picking a software package can be difficult due to complexities and learning curves – plus sales people have an unique dislike for record keeping – as general rule as there are exceptions. However, you and your organization should have a tracking system that assists both you – the b2b sales person – and the organization understanding sales forecasting and make it reality based.
4. Lack of understanding of Impact of sales people Beliefs –
This is relativity new area of research-based performance improvement. However, the impact is huge. I first witnessed the impact upon sales teams when decisions were made at the executive levels to change how and what the sales team would sell. This company had experienced short term based sales people who sold nuts and bolts to industry. Management wanted them to sell “Inventory Management” which required a different mindset and skills set to be successful. Some of the sales team refused to change – using old methods they were comfortable with using – others were waiting for someone to show them how – and a couple decided it was the future direction of the company so they decided to try it out. The ones who changed their mindset were the champions of the company. In fact, it was really one person who stated I can do it and I believe it will work. He was the trail blazer who set company sales records and signed several huge sales contracts – which paid him a huge amount of money compared to everyone else. Others joined in after their mindset changed to accept the new methods. And, a couple of the sales team could not get their mindset to change and left the company.
5. Lack of Continuous Development for Sales Team –
Sales leadership must be tuned in to nurturing and developing their sales team all the time. Most companies tend to limit funds and budgets for sales development and when they do commit they usually focus upon product knowledge or worst – old school sales techniques. The best companies understand the value of developing their people on such topics as effective communication, rapport building techniques, questioning techniques and models, team selling and team dynamics, and understanding the sales process – knowing what will work at what point in the process.
Then you also have a better sales people who understand it is not the company’s responsibility to develop their skills – it is their individual responsibility to learn, practice and use their newly learned skills.
There you have the Five Pitfalls to Successful B2B Selling. Review these topics with others within your own company. Create action plans to turn these pitfalls into competitive advantages.
If you need any assistance in figuring out where your company stands using these five key issues, please contact me at 901-757-4434. Helping people and companies get to the next level of success is what we have been doing for over 23 years.