Thinking about sales this weekend and reflecting on the major mistakes made by myself and my clients, I decided to share my thoughts with my readers.
Look, you and I both know that selling has changed. There is a new norm for successful b2b sales and it is our responsibility to learn how to succeed in our markets with our customers and potential customers.
The first step is to stop making the errors that cost you dearly in the marketplace with every customer you come into contact with today. In my opinion, there are five big errors we must avoid if we are to successful in the tough new selling world.
So, here are the five Big Errors Made by b2b sales people…
- Poor Listening Habits
This is the worst thing you can do with anyone and especially with your customers and targeted potential customers. Learn how to focus and listen to every word spoken by the people in the accounts. Your ability to listen well is the number one skills used by the b2b sales superstars. They hear everything and also ask for clarity on things so they can fully understand the customers situation and concerns.
- Not Getting to The Real Decision Maker
While not as bad as lacking listening skills, if you are selling really big ticket items which will have a major change impact upon the customer, well it is a must to get in front of the real decision maker. This allows you the opportunity to learn about their vision and what they want for the future. Only the top people actually know and can articulate what they see for the future. The lower level people are interested in productivity, expense and budgets. The top people have the vision of the future.
- Lack of Closing or Gaining Agreement
This should be a given in the world of b2b sales, yet, time after time I have seen b2b sales people go for the close too early in the sales process or forget to ask for the business when the door to ask is totally wide open. Yes, this does happen I’m sad to report. I did it back in the early 90’s after working with an account for four months and after giving one of my best sales presentations – I forgot to ask for the business! GEEZ! How embarrassing was that. And, as luck would have it, a new executive came on board and wanted his person to get the sale rather than me. This was a major hurt and lesson at the same time. Always ask for the next step and gain at a minimum a conceptual agreement to move forward with customer participation.
- Lack of Self Management
This one is a killer of b2b sales people. A lack of self management means a b2b sales person is doing things other than the most important priorities on their calendar. It is closely related to time management, yet, it’s focus is really upon getting outcomes on the highest priorities associated to your sales success. This means you are primarily focused on doing the highest priorities all day long and wasting very little time on low priority tasks and activities.
- Lacking Patience with Major Account Customers
This is where good b2b sales people shot themselves in the foot and admire their marksmanship rather than not shooting themselves in the first place! While I make light of the subject it is a very serious short coming for impatience sales people. Impatience is a factor that comes into play that is rooted in the “cause you want something to happen.” Look it is the customer’s right to study their options and they do have other things going on which do not involve you. Plus, the more corporate the account, the less likely they will make a fast decision. Their focus in upon safety and making secure decisions which will lack any bad news or impacts – since everything in their world is about sharing risks rather than taking risks. Fast or quick decisions feel risky to these people. So take your time, execute your b2b sales process, learn as much as you can, educate them on the cost of NO decision, and build value every time you meet with them.
There are the big five to focus you energies in learning the opposites of each item. These are the five areas when you do them properly, you will win more business than your competition.
Review and reflect upon how you have handled your top five accounts over the past year or two. Then, review and reflect upon any accounts you had targeted over the same two year period that you failed to win. As you review and reflect upon these sales processes, ask yourself if you violated any of the Big Five Errors?