B2B Sales is very difficult, and as so, this is a refrain I hear all the time.
There are many reasons for this. But the biggest reason is that very few companies train their sales people anymore, and even fewer have ongoing coaching.
And yet selling in the B2B marketplace is as difficult as it has ever been.
With buyers being bombarded with information from so many channels, B2B sales professionals have many obstacles to overcome. Here is some research from bmp online.
B2B Sales Issues
They have found the following reasons as the top five issues B2B sales and marketers face today
• Finding quality leads (63%),
• Length of the sales cycle (53%), and
• Getting in touch with decision makers (49%) are the biggest sales challenges that organizations name this year.
• Sales productivity (45%) and
• Time spent away from sales activities (39%) follow next.
So why is this happening?
There are a myriad of problems B2B vendor companies face in today’s marketplace.
These issues include;
1. B2B sales is tougher than it’s ever been.
2. There are a multitude of vendors selling something similar to what you sell.
3. The days of buying technology just for the sake of it are over, even though companies need more technology to keep a competitive position.
4. Very few companies train, and then have ongoing sales coaching today.
5. There is too much/too little reliance on technology to solve sales’ problems.
6. Not enough companies understand their own real differentiation, and therefore cannot explain it to their prospects.
7. Etc., etc., etc.
Some History on B2B Sales at IBM
First, let’s look at some history of B2B sales, and how it has evolved.
I first started my business career in the 1974 at IBM.
Back then, IBM put me and several hundred other fresh recruits into a nine-month training program, before we even saw or talked to any customers.
It was very intensive, usually 12 hour days for the entire nine months. And a lot of weekend work. They wanted to weed out any laggards.
They training focused on three different areas.
1. B2B sales and marketing,
2. Business principles,
3. How computers worked.
But, by far, the most time (70%) was spent on sales and marketing. We also spent a lot of time doing role plays, how to develop an account strategy, and how to build strategic accounts.
The intensity was more than any of us had been through. And what we learned has stayed with me since then. It has stayed with me because I practice what I learned every day.
The not so funny thing is that this type of training is needed more today than ever, especially about how to talk to executives, and how build and manage Strategic Accounts.
And yet, I don’t know of any company that even comes close to this type of training, including IBM. Xerox also trained their sales people back then, but not nearly as intensely and as thoroughly as IBM, and does no training now either.
In fact, most B2B companies give no sales and marketing training at all.
Yet, they all expect their sales and marketing people to be fully aware of how to sell in the B2B market right away.
B2B companies will give product training, but that is insufficient to learn how to sell.
Actually, I believe that if B2B sales people know how to sell, knowing their products and services is at the bottom of the list of how to sell.
What B2B Sales People Need to Know
What these B2B sales people need to know, more than anything else, are things like;
• Why did your clients buy from you?
• What ROI did they receive?
• Are they still getting that ROI?
• What about your company made them choose you?
• Would they buy from you again?
• Plus, a list of about 40 other questions I use when I interview customers of my clients.
So if any members of your B2B sales team are struggling making quotas, then you need to look at your training and coaching to ensure it is what your team needs.
Contact me, from my contact info in my signature below, and let’s discuss how to bring all of your sales and marketing people to a standard that fits your needs, and helps them all reach quota and beyond.