Signals of a Transactional B2b Sales Person

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?

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Track Leading Indicators to B2B Sales Success

One of the most interesting topics about goal setting and achieving greater results in upcoming quarters is to be tracking specific indicators. Now the truth is – most b2b sales people (and sales management) – are only tracking lagging indicators. Thus, a lack of predictability of achieving any form of serious growth goals and objectives.

Most people are tracking their sales results and possibly their gross margin data, however, these are all lagging indicators. Meaning these data is found in the history statements of what you have done and there is no way to change the past.

Leading indicators are those specific guides or triggers – usually related to your sales process – which then followed lead to certain levels of success. And, tracking your leading indicators every day will lead to greater success and sales results.

I first discovered these leading indicators back in the late 80’s when I was still doing activity based sales (the traditional model of selling). It was a simple system for tracking my personal results. I basically tracked five things – 4 leading and 1 lagging indicator.

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Buyers Do NOT Need B2B Sales People Anymore!

Before you think I have totally lost my mind, take a moment to read what I have to say about this topic – because I believe it has more Truth than I thought I would see in my lifetime.

Sure I read the book from Neil Rackham – one of the most acclaimed sales researchers in modern times – as he stated buyers do not want to be bothered by aggressive and pushy sales people anymore. That much I truly believe is correct based upon my interaction with so many buyers and decision makers.

Yesterday, I listened to a Marketing Expert talk about how much times have changed relative to actually how much a buyer needs a sales person. He stated prior to the widespread use of the internet, buyers actually needed us for product information and ideas for solving their problems.

Today, that has changed, the buyer can get as educated as they want from their laptop or tablet by searching the internet for product information, success stories, how to use our products, applications of solutions and even do some price comparisons – all without a sales person to talk with for one minute.

Does that ring any bells for you?

Okay, so what do you need to do to counter this change in need focus on the part of the buyer?

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Are You Optimistic or Pessimistic?

Based upon your answer, you could be setting yourself up for future success or future downturns.

I know the above statement sounds very absolute – like an either – or situation. True is it is fairly close to an absolute issue based upon both experience and some high performance research.

Now, before I get too far into this b2b sales tip and my comment box gets full of objections, I will say I have found some exceptions. The key word here is “exceptions” rather than a norm.

The key point here is optimistic b2b sales people usually are more successful in the long term than their evil twin the pessimistic b2b sales person. Now, I use the term “twin” for a specific reason. When a b2b sales team have all been trained in the new b2b sales model and have equal quality accounts to call upon, then they are twins relative to the opportunities presented.

However, the truth is the optimistic group usually out performs the pessimistic group over the long term. Why? Because they miss more opportunities due to things like destructive self-talk, slip of the tongue events with buyers, and a lack of positive energy to demonstrate and energize the buyer.

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7 Ways to Turn Off Your Buyer

Recently, I was reviewing what is working and not working on phone calls with customers or potential customers (my version of prospects – just sounds more positive to me.) And, there seemed to be seven statements that scream “I’m a Sale Person about to Try to Sell You Something!”

Now, I’m a b2b sales person with some serious wear and tear in the b2b sales world. And, I remember being taught to actually use these phrases by some pretty good sales trainers in a different time period for b2b sales.

However, times have changed. The “good ole boy” network is dying or dead. Customers have no time to lose or use for talking with sales people except for focused and purposeful dialogue about improvements. In fact, in many industries, due to the commodity pricing (and buying) – buyers are actually telling suppliers to stop sending b2b sales people to their offices. They prefer to buy using an electronic or internet connection for ordering – to lower their costs.

Times have changed. Therefore, it is your responsibility to lose the seven phrases that scream “old school sales person – beware!”. Because the buyer will disconnect from you either literally or figuratively – by not actually listening to anything else you say.

So here are the big seven you will want to lose from your prospecting calls…

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How Do You Get to Customer Loyalty in B2B Sales?

In this day and age of commodity pricing and reverse auctions, it is a wonder we have an opportunity to keep a customer from one sales to another. The thought of developing customer loyalty just feels like a pipe dream for most b2b sales people.

And, I will say if you are making price the only differentiator available to your customers – then loyalty is a pipe dream.

You gain Customer Loyalty due to a focused effort by you to create positive experiences for your customer. Believe me when I say it is hard work. Some recent research shows it takes a minimum of ten positive events to offset one negative event a customer receives while doing business with you and your company. Sounds like another reason for sound team selling.

Okay, so are you curious as to how you can develop customer loyalty with your customers? Here are  the five major steps to gaining customer loyalty…

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The Four Customer Perceptions of Your Role

Every once in a while I have to take a moment to get my bearings regarding how are my customers seeing me?

This is important since through the years I have labeled by my customers in one of four boxes. And, each box carries certain characteristics that are helping or hindering my results.

So, let’s explore the four customer perceptions as they see us…

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Visualize Your Way to Greater B2B Sales Success

Okay, I know some of you are thinking – “Visualize or Visualization? That is just stupid stuff made up by motivational speaker types.” And, if you feel this way, you are truly right.

However, if you are curious and want to improve your b2b sales success, then I suggest you give this visualization method some time for review.

One of the things that convinced me to look into and practice visualization were based upon two things I learned.

  1. I read Jack Nicklaus’ book on Playing Golf His Way. In his book, he openly discussed the importance of using visualization as a tool for success. If he states he used visualization on every hole and every shot he took as the all time Golf Champion.
  2. Learning all the Olympic athletes in every sport used visualization as part of their routine practice in their respective sports. In fact, watching various Olympic games contests showed the athletics with their eyes closed using visualization techniques for executing their entire routine – sometimes to the sound of music used in their routines.

Now, I know this is about b2b sales rather than sports, however, these are basically professionals – like you. So, using the benchmark theory of best practices, I began to use the visualization techniques in my work – especially for sales presentations.

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Major Objectives for Meeting Sr. Executive Decision Makers

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a Sr Level Executive with a mid-size company and I realized I made a major mistake during the meeting. This broke one of the major objectives for meeting Sr Executive Decision Makers. It hurt to realize I screwed up – not the executive.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to share this list of major objectives when meeting with Sr Executive Decision Makers in your b2b sales efforts. So here are the six major objectives you must think about before and  during these meetings.

Six Major Objectives When Meeting Sr level Decision Makers…

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Be Frank in Your Discussions about Tough Issues

One of the issues with new b2b sales people is the lack of frank or candid dialogue with a prospect or customer. Now understand I’m not saying you should be combative or defensive in your talks with prospects or customers – what I am saying is you must get to the meat of touchy issues or potential problems or setbacks.

Too often I see b2b sales people attempting to be politically correct or something – it just frustrates me when I witness it.

Look the Sales Superstars don’t dance around tough topics, they attack them head on and direct. Let me clarify something here – you can be direct about a topic and be wise regarding how you say it. Being direct and rude does not get you a victory in this game – you will lose your credibility and rapport.

Looks like we are back to the rapport, trust and credibility thing again. Building rapport is all about building trust which when used with experience and expertise leads directly to credibility. You must take the time to develop these soft skill issues before charging head long into a touchy or difficult subject.

So assuming you have build rapport, trust and credibility, you are now ready to deal with any other issues you have learned about through your questioning skills. So what are some of these tough or difficult topics?

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