Everywhere I go I get a rapidly get two questions from my sales clients…
Why I am not selling value added or getting higher margins?
How do I get out of the commodity or low price selling trap?
Since this is such a common issue for so many b2b sales people – particularly in today’s economic environment – I feel we should review the warning signals or traps keeping b2b sales people from selling higher margins.
Here are the Twelve Major Traps or Warning Signals you need to recognize. Take the time to ask yourself, be honest in your answers and then think of ways to change the answers if necessary.
- You are Seen as a Vendor – This is the starting point. If you talk like a vendor, walk like a vendor and sell like a vendor – you are in fact – A VENDOR. Vendors get no respect and get less respect than someone who is seen as an advisor.
- Everything is About Low Price – Well, surprise – surprise. Price will always come up. The key is whether you lead with price conversations or do you look for problems you can solve? I have actually found through the years, b2b sales people make price the issue in most cases due to poor sales skills.
- Only Call on One Person – Major mistake since all your information is either controlled by this person or you’re only getting their point of view. Many times one person will have a price filter on all discussions while someone else in the same organization only wants to solve their problem and is more concerned about results or performance than price.
- Who is Your Customer Coach? – If you only have a low level coach, you are only getting low level information to use in your b2b sales process. Make a goal to have multiple coaches within your larger accounts to insure you get valuable information and insights into the decision making processes.
- No C Level Relationships – This is major. When you have no contact with the top senior level executives, how can you become a valued advisor for the company? I have seen b2b sales people who had the senior level relationships keep selling high margin products and services during bad times – and the vendors are all shut out! How many senior level relationships do you have?
- No Understanding of Customer Priorities – This is closely related to the lack of relationships with C Level executives. If you have no clue regarding the organization’s priorities or objectives, how can you position yourself as an advisor to assist them in achieving these priorities?
- Blocked by a Gatekeeper – This gatekeeper can be the purchasing department who is afraid of losing control of their power to manipulate vendors. What strategies do you have to meet with higher level people within the customer account and discuss the objectives of the organization?
- Closing Is a Problem – This is usually due to a lack of using ROI techniques in the closing process. You need to be able to show you are an investment rather than an expense item. Also, no pushing for a close can be equally important, by patience yet persistent.
- Sales Cycles are Too Long – Here you must set down and reflect upon previous experiences of getting accounts through the sales process. Is it your sales process or some other element that is slowing you down. Many times there is a direct relationship to a lack of desire of the customers part to change – things of this nature can be fatal flaws for your b2b sales success. Thus, in some cases other accounts move up your target list.
- Account Struck or Stalling – Again, here is a case of possibly having the wrong target on your forecast list or you have not separated yourself and your company from the thundering herd of competitors. A reality check is necessary to truthfully answer this issue. Is it really stalling or was it never in play? Ask the tough questions and then take action to change the status.
- Issues with Timing and Sr Level People – Sometimes you are under the gun to get a prospect or customer moving, yet, you are delayed or unable to get to the real decision makers. Here you have to do three things. One, is to develop real relationships with these people so they take your calls or better yet – call you on occasion to ask questions. Two, do better research on the individuals at the higher levels and create a data bank of information so you can meet these people outside the office – again not to sell – to develop relationships. Three, improve your process of getting an audience with these key people using team selling approaches and having your key people involved in the meetings.
- Difficulty in Differentiation – This is biggest hurdle to cross – if in fact your products are the same as multiple competitors. In this case, the best solution is to differentiate you from the other sales people. This actually works since buyers and decision makers are actively looking for people they can trust and meet their objectives consistently. Work on your professionalism and people skills, it will pay off huge in the long run.
There you have the 12 traps keeping b2b sales people in the commodity zone of selling where low price rules. Take the high road, review the above list, take action to change the areas you know to be a problem and watch your b2b sales results improve.