3 Lessons to Seed Improved B2B Sales Productivity In The Coming Quarter

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As quarter-end approaches, some reflections on what we’ve learned recently with implications for next quarter:

1/ ‘WHY’ IS THE KEY TO GAINING ACCESS
In general, we’re seeing vendors with a sharply defined WHY gain access to new leads faster, and more predictably, than those who lack a clear WHY (or at least one that matters to their buyers). Simon Sinek’s TED talk on how great leaders inspire action adds amplitude to this notion. His points explain how great salespeople inspire change. We’re seeing our most saavy clients now defining the outcomes their buyers are looking for, by job title, and mapping these outcomes back to the WHY of an offering. It’s not only opening doors more often; it’s revealing new doors they would never have thought to go knocking on.

2/ OLD HABITS DIE HARD
Most of our clients are dealing with revenue uncertainties. They’re selling new products. They’re entering new markets. They’re trying to hit their revenue targets with the help of new Sales Reps. When faced with such uncertainties, we’re seeing an enormous temptation for firms and their salespeople to persist with past practices. It’s comforting. They’re returning to familar ground even as they navigate new ground. Old habits die hard; this cycle of comfortable conformity impoverishes learning and, when things go poorly, it drains passion. Overcoming them requires personalized learning that seeds a courage + curiousity to try new approaches. Coaching helps. Coaching with fast feedback on what’s working and what isn’t working REALLY helps.

3/ THE FAST PATH TO SUCCESS IS PAVED WITH FAST LEARNING
One of our clients has had great success building his business in Canada. He’s now making his 1st moves into international markets. In the space of five days, his team learned the value of testing + adjusting their sales practices with the help of fast feedback on the buyer actions triggered by sales efforts. Three days into one of their new markets, they could see they were getting skunked. Buyers were completely ignoring them. They pulled back from that new market and took the same tactics into a more familiar Canadian territory. By the end of their 5th day, they’d proven: they had a messaging approach that worked well in Canada; AND they need a different messaging approach in their new market (what’s got them to where they are today isn’t going to get them to where they want to be in a year’s time). As Victor Chang notes, in uncertain times firms with the fastest decision cycles – firms able to adapt faster than others – will be the winners everyone else notices thru gains in market share.

The learnings continue.

Bring on Q2.

2 COMMENTS

  1. John: beside the wonderful alliteration, comfortable conformity synthesizes much of why sales organizations get fat, dumb and happy–and have a hard time reaching goal because of it. I’ve heard many times (too many times) “sell what we’ve got,” or “bring me solutions, not problems.” Many times, people just want the revenue, but without shaking up the status quo. Long term, I’ve never seen a company achieve one without committing to the other.

    Here’s my question. When you say “. . . clients now defining the outcomes their buyers are looking for . . .” Is that in their own minds, or for their clients?

    I think defining outcomes for clients is not only exceedingly difficult, it risks leading the customer-vendor relationship down a rocky road. “If what you’re selling is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” There’s an extraordinary amount of truth in that, and the evidence comes out in thousands of postings every day from customers who think they were sold the wrong product, or sold the right product the wrong way.

    What’s lacking in our sales-centric, product-centric, universe is the ability among salespeople to first collaboratively define problems or limitations clients experience. It’s much easier said then done, particularly when you have a product to sell, a quota to achieve, and a commission to make. But you can’t adequately define an outcome without first identifying the problem(s) that created the need for it.

  2. Andy: thxs for the feedback. FYI, when I say ‘clients are defining the outcomes their buyers are looking for…’ what I really meant to say is that they’re asking questions of their buyers [and customers] that make the ‘why’ that’s driving buyer desire for a seller’s offering much clearer heading in. What we’re finding, when brought in to aide in this process-defining effort, is that:

    a/ sales teams often miss job titles that have desired outcomes addressed by an offering and

    b/ when the outcomes likely desired by a buyer [given their title] are clearer to a seller, it helps sellers them initiate contact with prospects in ways that improve the odds of triggering a conversation with that buyer.

    Common sense. Just not common practice. Trust this helps. – John

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