One of the biggest signs of a problematic b2b sales performance is the challenge of unlearning the traditional or transactional sales tactics of the past. When b2b sales people start telling me how hard their job is today – and it is – I first want to empathize with them and then find the answer to their problem.
I agree with one “excuse” customers & prospects want to get the best deal – which to many means lowest price. To the superstars, it means they want the best value offer which is quite different from the lowest price concern.
Now as someone who has assisted many sales people and sales teams transform from Transactional Selling to a more Progressive B2B Selling, this has always been an issue for the sales executives. The Key was to fundamentally change or transform the mindsets of the sales teams.
An interesting observation from these experiences – it usually just took One Sales Person to accept the new mindset, change the way they sold and have success in the field. Amazingly, the majority of the team would sudden change their performance levels shortly afterwards. This proves the power of mindsets in the world of selling.
So, how do you know if you are a Transactional Sales Person today? Usually you are not happy with your results, while your gross sales may be the same – your margins are lower and you feel you get less respect from both the customer and the sales manager. So what is causing this issue?
Using my best Jeff Foxworthy voice – You Might Be a Transactional B2B Sales Person if You…
- Are Calling on the Lower Levels of the Customer or Prospect Organization.
If you only speak to the “purchasing agent” you are a commodity sales person. The superstars of both gross revenue AND high margins are meeting with executives and several functional managers to determine the true situation at their organization. They learn more than a product SKU specification.
- Putting Price First in Your Meetings
If you are guilty of talking price in the first meeting before any learning takes place – you are a commodity sales person. Resist the temptation of talking about price until you know all you need to learn about the current situation.
- Are Avoiding Difficult Topics or Conversations
If you only want to be friends with the customer you are a losing sales person in the long run. In fact, you may be best of friends and the buyer will buy from someone else who does not mind talking about important areas the prospect or customer prefers to avoid. Yet, when shown the importance of the problem – buy the solution from the one who has the courage to swim against the current.
- Letting the Customer or Prospect Control the Sales Process
If you are letting the customer off the hot seat of solving a problem, you are a commodity seller. When you control the Sales Process (notice this is a “Sales” process rather a “Buyer” process) you will keep the crazy busy customer focused upon the important issue to resolve. Procrastination is a problem on both sides of the fence – sales and buyers.
- Displaying Poor Selling Skills as you Prefer to Talk rather than Listen
If you have not studied professional selling skills, attended a sales training session or read a modern sales book in the last year – you are a transactional sales person. Why do the top performers attend all the training sessions, read the current books on selling and engage other top performers in “how to sessions” – every chance they get? Because they know they must continue to learn and be brilliant on the basics of selling, if they want to beat their competition.
- Have no Clue as to What is Business Acumen
If you have no idea how to calculate financial ratios, read a financial statement, and understand cost analysis then you are commodity sales person. The superstars are able to read the financial situation of a customer. They can show them the Return on Investment and the Payback Period so the financial buyer can make a quicker decision.
- Fail to Price for Value Added.
If all you are concerned about is being the “low bid” you are a commodity sales person. The sales superstars take the time to figure out the true value of their solutions AND the value added effect benefits to the customer. Then the pricing reflects this value allowing for optimization of margins and revenue.
- Skipping Major Steps in the Sales Process to Get to the Close
If you go straight to the presentation with all types of closing techniques – you are a commodity or transactional sales person. The top sales people understand sales is a process. Therefore, their are specific steps or milestones to be reached during the sales process. They also know if they skip important steps or milestones along the way – those skipped steps will return to stop the sale or worst hinder the implementation of your solution useless. Follow the sales process (if you don’t know or have a sales process – then create it now.) and make certain all the important steps are covered by your efforts before the contracts are signed.
One of the greatest learning tips I ever received came from an older sales superstar who told me to …
Go Slow – to Go Fast
At first I didn’t understand this idea (what I didn’t know was amazing!). Yet, as I learned, practiced and implemented the progressive selling models – I embraced this concept in the way sales champions had before me. In other words, work your sales process and win the Account rather than a small Transactional Sale.
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