sales process

Closing Is Usually Not The Problem In B2B Sales

I'm working with a client at the moment that provides brilliant cloud solutions with a compelling business case. When I asked what their biggest challenges were within the sales team they said: "Many of them can't seem to close... they want better closing techniques."

Here's the thing I've learned from three decades in the trenches... the problem is rarely the problem. Inability to close is usually a symptom of a deeper problem. In complex B2B selling, or even with simple or transactional small to medium business (SMB) selling where there is one decision-maker, there is a universal truth that must be embraced if we are improve results: Opening is far more important than closing.

The way we open the relationship determines the likelihood of success. We need to set a vision to establish the right agenda and anchor three key areas to earn the right to close:

  1. Establish trust and rapport (by being authentic and transparent).
  2. Agree compelling business value (as defined by them).
  3. Understand their timing and priorities (and their process for evaluation, selection and procurement if in complex enterprise environments).

Once these three things are in place, the date for purchasing commitment becomes clear to both buyer and seller and contracting or finalizing the purchase becomes a 'next step' rather than a white knuckle adventure. For many in sales they feel like they need to lock their customer in a room or go sit in their lobby for days on end until the purchase order is secured... desperation is the worst way to attempt a close. I recently wrote a post about waterboarding your prospects for commitment... don't do it.

Symptoms are rarely causes. Difficulty in closing is almost always a symptom rather than a root cause. Closing must be earned. Objections usually evidence that the seller has made mistakes by pushing before trust and value has been established and without the necessary understanding of their timing, priorities and processes.

For managers; remember that you cannot manage by results; only by activities and actions. Ask the right questions of your sales people right at the beginning of the quarter and help them identify and execute the right actions that create progression throughout the quarter. Firing-up the blow torch with just days to go in the quarter after neglecting the inputs that create success is a sure-fire way to damage relationships and drive-down price and margin.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main image photo by Flickr: Washington State Dept of Transportation Contract Signing

Sell More By Going Beyond The Sales Process

Dave Stein is legend in the sales training industry and he has teamed-up with Steve Andersen to publish an essential book for anyone in business-to-business selling. I just finished reading Beyond The Sales Process and its timeless wisdom is wrapped within a modernized approach achieving sales success by intelligently creating value for customers.

"The customer is the only one qualified to call something a solution. The customer is also the one who defines and measures value" Tony Hughes

Just as with the best sales leaders, Dave Stein has always advocated sales people define ‘value’ through the eyes of the customer, but this book explains exactly how to do it by researching thoroughly and then engaging on the basis of insight and value. Dave and Steve make the very important point that alignment is more important than persuasion and they highlight the core reasons for an existing supplier being replaced or a seller failing to win. Here is an excerpt form the book.

In nearly every case where a provider was replaced, misalignment existed between the client’s performance challenges and the provider’s ability to drive changes that would address and overcome them. Sales performance initiatives fail for other reasons, as well:

  • The supplier/seller is unwilling or unable to understand how their customer buys;
  • The supplier/seller does not understand how the customer defines value;
  • The supplier/seller does not understand what is motivating and putting pressure on the customer, particularly when it comes to their external drivers, business objectives and internal challenges;
  • The supplier/seller cannot articulate business value to the customer;
  • People in sales, account management, and sales leader roles are unsuited for their jobs;
  • There is no overall methodology, with the relevant processes in place, to drive sales excellence, or the existing methodology is not widely complied with and adhered to;
  • The supplier/seller has little or no understanding of the political forces within a customer’s organization; or
  • The supplier/seller has little or no understanding of its own competitors.

If you’re a fan of Challenger Selling but have struggled with how to implement the concept of engaging on the basis of a provocative insights; then Beyond The Sales Process is the book for you. This is because the book leads with strategies for truly understanding a potential customer and then differentiation through the way you engage rather than with what you’re selling.

Dave and Steve know that the very best sales people today are engineers of value, not warriors of persuasion. These sellers research and prepare before engaging at the right level in the buyer’s organization as they create insightful conversations that lead to the collaborative creation of a business-case value.

Another brilliant aspect of the book is the concept of thinking beyond closing the sale to instead regard success as only occurring once the client is realizing the benefits of your product, service or solution… and with them being advocates for you in the market. 

If you only read one book in 2016 on business-to-business selling then this has to be it! Beyond The Sales Process is filled with actionable insights, illuminating case studies, and it is intelligently written from academic solid ground – logical, compelling and thought provoking. It enables any seller to create a winning sales process that goes beyond being customer centric to truly understand the world of the customers. The most successful companies have their customers as evangelists by creating alignment and value in partnership with the customer. The book answers these impotant questions:

  • Why should your customers engage with you before they discover your value?
    • How do you create buyer alignment and remove the tension from the sales process?
  • How do you create market advocates who extend your reach and influence to create greater success?

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: DVIDSHUB - Continuing Promise 2011