B2B buying is strategic. Selling is tactical.


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Dave Brock wrote a passionate post highlighting the “tragedy” customers suffer when “no decision made” is the result of a purchase process. Dave rubs shoulders with buyers and sellers everyday and points the finger for this loss squarely on the failure of sales reps to empathize with the challenge buyers face and help facilitate their buying process. People sometimes don’t know how to look where they need to be looking to solve a problem.

In a recent post, I stressed that the reasons B2B buyers don’t buy has nothing to do with their need, your solution or your relationship. At some point the buying process just breaks down…status quo is good enough…no buy-in for change…no pain.


Perhaps they weren’t able to align the diverse agendas and priorities of people involved in the buying process. Perhaps they struggled with buying–they simply didn’t know how to move forward in developing a solution and making a buying decision. Perhaps they were overwhelmed by the complexity of the issues involved, suggests Dave Brock.

Whatever the reason behind the decision, the fact is most people you’re selling to know they have problems but just aren’t experiencing that much pain. They’ve built, funded, staffed and maintain workarounds to “manage” the pain. Sales inflates quotas to cover a 55% loss rate, finance discounts 50% of the sales forecast, manufacturing budgets for a 12% reject rate, marketing scales volumes of content to compensate for a 2% open rate – the pain is already baked into the operation of the business.

On the scale of unbearable suffering to unfettered joy, most people vacillate within a range they would describe as “basically OK,” and they assume life will always be that way, reveals Andy Raskin.


The sales model is a solution looking for a problem

The sales model coaches reps to probe for needs, ask questions to inspire agreement and admit need, prove a need/solution match and expose the pain. Prove that the pain of change is less than the pain of staying with the same.

You can’t do that if the prospect isn’t experiencing any pain – either because there is none, or it’s already baked into the business or because the prospect is in denial.

One of the biggest flaws with the sales model is that we mistakenly try to convince prospective buyers that they can be more effective with our solution when they’re not certain of their pain or the criteria for change.

You may have the perfect solution, but if the buyer doesn’t know how to align all of the pieces of their internal operation so everyone will be happy to change, they will do nothing. It’s not just a decision about the problem your product solves, it’s about understanding and managing all of the people, rules, policies and procedures that contains and maintains the problem and will be affected by the change.

no pain_lost deals

Your sales and marketing teams are subject matter experts when it comes to buyer indecision; they need to help buyers discover their path to change and deliver content that helps facilitate change without looking for pain or asking questions in order to position their solution.

Sales ignores people who could become buyers

Most sales and marketing teams are well positioned for finding and educating buyers that have a “need” and are ready to buy. Unfortunately, 99% of the leads that they uncover, may have a need but the prospective buyer can’t figure out how to manage the change. They’re not ready to buy.

They can’t tell you their “needs” because all of the stakeholders haven’t weighed-in on their requirements, there’s no buy-in for change or the full decision team has not yet been assembled. Whatever needs the prospective buyer does tell you are limited by their access to the decision team and how deep the team has dug into the status quo and understood all the changes required.

You can’t make a sale until the buyer makes a buying decision

It all begins with helping prospective buyers to understand everyone and everything that created the current problem and would potentially touch the new solution. How they got to where they are now, what’s missing and how the problem is being maintained? What initial decisions and priorities got them to where they are and are those reasons still valid?


As a seller, you will never understand all of the issues that hold the status quo in place or all of the history and internal politics that have prevented buyers from solving their problem. Whatever is holding it in place is way more powerful than any solution you can offer.

You are fighting against the status quo, budget, or other projects. You are also competing against the enterprise’s own ability to buy. @Barnes_Hank (Gartner)

The length of time it takes buyers to uncover all of the elements of the status quo and admit that there is something missing, is the biggest drag on the sales cycle and often the root cause of a no decision. The process never begins as a decision to make a purchase.

whats stopping


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