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“DON’T WASTE A CRISIS” – B2B BUYING AND SELLING NEEDS A CURE


Don’t let a good crisis go to waste” is today applied to economic or diplomatic crises that can be exploited to advance political agendas. However, the original quote as found in the Yale Book of Modern Proverbs, can be traced back to 1976 (sorry, Churchill did not say it first), when M. F. Weiner wrote an article in the journal Medical Economics entitled “Don’t Waste a Crisis — Your Patient’s or Your Own.” Weiner meant that a medical crisis can be used to improve aspects of mental health, daily habits or lifestyle – for both parties.

This is the proper context for this post. How can the current COVID-19 crisis be used to improve the interactions and business results for both B2B Buyers and Sellers?  Studying this “deceptive dance” from both sides for over 20 years in my consulting practice, I have often been frustrated by how much time, effort, and potential value is routinely squandered by both sides – resulting in very poor deals for one or both parties. Why does it have to be this way?

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Covid-19 is Changing How We Do Business


Maintaining your business base is your first priority in the current COVID-19 environment.  Yet, your team must accomplish this with limited access to your customers – and your customers have access to reduced budgets at best.  What’s your plan to ensure their spend with you is above the newly revised budgetary line?        

Watch this brief video to see how our clients are doing this today.

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B2B SELLING IN A STAY-AT-HOME WORLD


In the previous post, we discussed what we, as B2B sellers, must do to address the key buying challenges of our customers, because that’s why selling has become so much more difficult! I ended that post with the following:

“I’m reluctant to predict the future because I’m no better than anyone else. I’m sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but I should always be in great doubt. However, humor me and envision this scenario.

All the scary statistics and studies I’ve referenced are based on today’s selling and buying environment, where sellers at least have some face to face time with their customers and champions. What happens if, God forbid, travel and group meetings are eliminated and all of this “selling” and “buying” must be done virtually? Now how are you going to enable your customer’s buying journey and help them answer their key questions? Because those questions are not going away – and neither is your quota.”

I wish that this was not where we find ourselves today. I also can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had during the past week with sales leaders who are asking “How are my teams going to sell, negotiate and close critical business virtually?” A friend shared with me an even more pointed request, “What are my people going to do – on Monday when they’re at home?”

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B2B BUYING IS HARD – HELPING THE CUSTOMER ANSWER THEIR KEY BUYING QUESTIONS


In the previous post, we discussed why B2B selling is getting so much harder – because B2B buying is even more challenging. One reason is that most of the “selling” is occurring internally within the customer when the salesperson is not present. Only 17% of a customer’s total buying process is spent with supplier sales reps (Gartner). If you are 1 of 4 competitors, then you’re only getting 4 or 5% of their buying time (they still have day jobs).  Thus, our champions and other internal stakeholders are the ones doing most of the heavy lifting – and it’s not in their job description, nor are they experienced at it…

Perhaps that explains why NO DECISION has an enviable win rate of 43% (Forrester). In this post, I want to explore how we might address our customer’s buying challenges. I believe that is the right target to aim for – and a huge opportunity for those sellers that get it right. Fair warning, this is a pretty long post.

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B2B SELLING IS HARD – BECAUSE B2B BUYING IS EVEN MORE CHALLENGING


A recurring topic of discussion with my clients is whether B2B selling is getting more difficult. The consensus response is that it is getting much harder. Evidence would bear this out as Salesforce.com reported that 57% of sales reps would miss quota in 2019 (I’ve found no data on the final tally). When I ask sales reps and sales managers why, I typically get responses like “There’s more competition… Customers have access to more information… Our offerings are becoming a commodity and lowest price wins… etc.”

But are these really the root causes or symptoms? While we sell for a living, we too often forget that customers don’t buy for a living. Rather, they are in the business of their business. Fortunately, there’s growing interest and research into this phenomenon, which I believe sheds a light on the underlying issues – as well as the opportunities for sellers.

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WHAT WE LEARNED AFTER REVIEWING 100 B2B PROPOSALS


Chad Quinn with Ecosystems and I have held many discussions about the topic of B2B proposals over the past several years. Recently, we decided to conduct a bit of joint research and present our general findings in a post. We reviewed 100 B2B proposals that six different clients presented to their customers over the current year to date. While reviewing, we tried to “put on the hat of the customer” and what we found was not totally unexpected. However, it was problematic – from the customer’s perspective.

Let’s start with the purpose of the proposal. After submitting a proposal to the customer, what do we expect it to do? If there are six to 10 decision-makers (Gartner), we can pretty much assume that our champions will need to use it to help sell our company and our offer internally—when we’re not there. In order to do that effectively, these champions need to 1) understand it; 2) believe it; 3) be able to explain it. Using these simple criteria here’s what we found:

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