Steve’s Blog

Steve’s Blog

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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Steve’s Blog

“PRICE ONLY” NEGOTIATIONS: PRICE OF WHAT?


Given that it is now the do-or-die Q4 for many companies, I thought this topic was timely. While this occurred several years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. After months of intense selling, providing technical “demos” and submitting a formal proposal, my client was now bracing for what they believed would be a tough “price only” negotiation with procurement.

They had dealt with this procurement manager when negotiating the pilot program, almost a year previously and committed about every negotiation sin you can name (conceded on price, gave away valuable services for free, etc.—all without trading for anything). To make matters worse, this was the biggest opportunity in the company’s pipeline for Q4…

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Do Your Closed Deals Advance Your B2B Business Strategy?


After months of intense work, your company has developed a new business strategy in response to competitive market forces perhaps in order to boost anemic sales and/or increase lagging profits or enter new markets.  Executives have identified and communicated the strategy (objectives, scope and advantage), Ideal Customer Profile and corresponding desired market segmentation. This, of course, led to a realignment of the sales organization, new sales roles and a change to sales compensation. In addition, the entire Marketing program has been revamped to get the right message out to the target market and to arm the sales force with the appropriate collateral material.

I’m sure most of you have been through some or all these changes in your career – and they can be extremely disruptive, especially to short term sales. No organization undertakes these changes lightly and some do so because they have no choice.  However, the right strategy when well executed, can dramatically change the fortunes of the business. In this post I want to discuss one key aspect of executing a new business strategy that is too often overlooked.

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THE COMPELLING PROPOSAL” HIT KIRKUS REVIEWS!


I wanted to let you know that “The Compelling Proposal” was just reviewed by Kirkus Reviews and the review was very positive! 

I didn’t realize this was actually a big deal until my wife informed me that authors (you know, real ones that write for a living) vie to get a review from them and live and die by their published reviews.

Thanks for your support!

Steve

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