This can be a very tough concept or even thought for most b2b sales people who have experienced success in the past. I know because I’m living in the effects of remaining in the past for too long.
Joe Calloway, a great person, business man and keynote speaker, starting telling me to “let go of the pass” about three years ago. And, he was not kidding as he walked the talk – eliminating all the old stuff in his warehouse. I mean he just decided one day to left go of the past so he could move forward in the present. What a novel, yet, outstanding idea.
Being a slow learned, it took me another year and a half to realize he was really on to something. The old bread and butter sales techniques and products were no longer producing any results. Now, that is when it really gets scary as you realize it is time to change and move into the “unknown zone.” You now the place where nothing is given or certain – everything is new and you have must learn new methods, develop new strategies and sell in the market different from the last twenty years (my time in the field.)
Okay, as I am still in the transition of major change, I believe it is time to share six issues that can take a major toll of your ability to stay true to your new goals, strategies and targets. These are the big six standing in most everyone’s path as we negotiate our pathway to better results, change and improving lifestyle.
The Six Major Obstacles of B2B Sales Growth and Change…
- Start with a Vision
What is your vision of the future? Having a vision for your future separates you from the thundering herd of also rans and the middle of the road gang. These people have no vision, so they follow other people’s visions or goals. In other words, their follow someone else making these other people look good or bad depending upon the passion of the followers. Personally, I prefer to be out front with the leaders showing others the pathway to greatness. Visions assist you in moving forward and keep you “on point” heading for your goals and outcomes.
- Let Go of Old Habits
This is the hardest thing for people to handle. Old habits dead slow if at all. Since humans are habitual in their patterns and behaviors, we have old habit antenna which continuously tries to get our attention and impact our actions. There is a staying that it takes 21 days of solid action and reinforcement to set a new habit into our mindset. Therefore, there is no quick fix for changing old habits. It takes time and attention for a new habit to get burned into our mindset. My question to you is “What habits have you changed in the past six months?” What habits should you change before the next thirty days escapes forever?
- Learn From the Past
I am a true believer in things happen for reasons. Everything counts and happens to teach us lessons in life. Some of these lessons deal with our personal lives – helping us to make better choices in the future. And, some of these lessons come to us in our professions. We can learn a lot from taking the time to reflect upon the past. What things have we learned about customers, the industries you sell into every day, the methods and techniques we use – what works and what is not working? What is not working as well today compared to five years ago? Take time to reflect on your experiences, pull out the major learning from your sales results, and make a list of all the things that can help you moving forward.
- Watch Out for Bad Assumptions
Peter Drucker, the greatest management consultant and author, wrote in his classic book, The Effective Executive back in 1955 – “Bad Assumptions are the root cause for all poor decisions.” And, based upon my experiences and those of several clients, he was truly on to a major truth. Bad assumptions are the root cause of our poor decisions. How often have you selected a target account based upon your assumptions of what they would buy, need and want? Only to find out later, you were no where close to the actual truth about the target company? Honest answers only! The key to your consistent success regarding outcomes is to always test your assumptions. Write down any assumptions you are making whenever you begin to make major decisions or allocations of time, energy and resources. When you see your written assumptions sometimes this action alone will change your thought process regarding your upcoming decision.
- Utilize the Power of Team Selling
Something new for the lone wolves of the group is coming at you at warp speed. How well do you get along with everybody – I mean everybody in the customer’s company, in your company (all the functional areas including shipping, accounting and credit!) and any vendors or key suppliers involved in your sales process? Just as managers are having to learn, lone wolf decision making and style is no longer a positive competency in today’s marketplace. Things are moving to fast and change is happening to us in many different ways. We must be willing to involve others – using their strengths and maximizing the flow of information. Team selling is one of the fastest methods to get up to speed during times of rapid change. It is the new norm of b2b sales, so embrace it today.
- Embrace Flexibility
Here is where having a clear vision and focus upon the future helps you deal with all the change coming at you today. Flexibility is not just a term or some saying to parrot to others. It is a real competency and skill to have in your tool box today. In fact, one of the most popular workshops I provide for my clients b2b sales teams in called Flexible Selling – the ability to sell to anyone and everybody the right way. I’ve had both sales people and sales managers tell me this information proved to be the most valuable information they ever learned since it showed them the way to communicate with everyone successfully. While this is only one example of being flexible, you will need to avoid rigidity in your behavior, thoughts and mindset. Rigidity is the number two cause of corporate careers being derailed.
Take a moment to review these six major obstacles to successful change in your b2b sales career. Think about how each of the six could be impacting you today. Then set an action commitment to yourself to begin the change process. It is no longer acceptable to keep waiting on the past to come back. News Flash! It ain’t happening any time soon. So get started making change work for you and get you to the goals, outcomes and results you want. Make your vision come true faster.