Bryan Kreuzberger offers the following thoughts on the biggest mistake B2B salespeople make:
I’ve had 100’s of sales calls. Over 90% of the calls, never resulted in a sale. For years I didn’t understand why my customers didn’t buy.
The thing I hate about most sales systems is that they only talk about it from the seller’s point of view.
“What do I do to close them?”
“How do I increase my close ratio?”
“Why don’t MY customer’s get it?”
The mistake? Thinking like a salesperson is inherently flawed. If you want to persuade or influence a customer, you should think about their point of view — not your own.
Here’s what we are covering:
- The 4 qualifications every prospect must have to become a customer
- The biggest mistake almost every B2B salesperson makes
- B2B Sales vs. Consumer Sales
- How non-decision makers (NDM’s) are ruining your pipeline
Let’s start by identifying the 4 qualifications prospects must pass to become a buyer. This will save you time and lead to more closed sales.
The 4 Qualifications Prospects Must Pass to Become Buyers Are:
- They must have the authority to make a decision
- They must have the ability to buy (i.e. The Money)
- They must be in pain
- They must be looking to make a decision now (or at least very soon)
Pretty simple right?
But most B2B salespeople make all kinds of mistakes with this. Making a mistake here leads to long sales cycles, deals that never seem to close and endless follow up.
Out of the four qualifications, there is one qualification that wastes 80% of your time and leads to all kinds of frustration. The first one…
1) Your prospects must have the authority to make a decision
In short, they need to be able to say yes to you.
The ability to “say yes” is the big difference between B2B sales and consumer sales. With consumers they are in charge of their own buying decision. In B2B sales, only one person at a company typically has the authority to make the decision.
Most salespeople make the simple mistake of assuming that they are talking to the decision maker.
However, in reality they are only talking to people involved in the decision. The salesperson is talking to stakeholders, researchers and users.
The one person they aren’t talking to is the actual buyer. They aren’t talking to the person who can approve the project.
Why does this matter?
If you aren’t talking to THE Decision Maker the likelihood of closing a sale goes down by 50%.
The primary reason for this decrease is that you have little influence on the sales process.
When working with sales people I start by evaluating their pipeline.
I was working with Rich, a salesman last week. He was frustrated because his sales cycles were taking forever to close. As we looked at his pipeline, two thirds of it was made up of non-decision makers. He projected that these same deals had a probability of closing anywhere from 65% – 80%.
The reality is more like 50-50.
Rich was wondering why these deals weren’t closing. It’s not a mystery — it’s because he is in the wrong room.
When I started in sales, I was just happy to be talking with anyone. I didn’t realise that I was wasting my time with guys who were a few rungs below the actual decision maker. I was taking meetings with guys who could say no to me — but they couldn’t say yes to me.
When I say they couldn’t say yes to me, it means they didn’t have the authority to say yes. They had to go to someone else (typically their boss) to approve the project.
To make matters worse — the non-decision makers would rarely introduce me to the decision maker. The non-decision maker reports to the decision maker. They have more to lose than to gain by introducing me to their boss. Why would they risk it? No one wants to look bad…
I didn’t want to go around the non-decision makers and risk the deal. But I also didn’t want to keep doing what I was doing.
Step 1: The first step is to acknowledge the problem.
Step 2: Identify where you have the problem in your own sales. Look at your pipeline ask yourself how many of these deals are you talking with the FINAL decision maker? How many of sales are you talking to someone who is just involved in the decision?
Step 3: If you aren’t talking to the FINAL decision maker, your next order of business is to get in front of him.
2) Your prospects must have the ability to buy
This one is pretty straight forward.
If you’re calling on a company that simply can’t afford your service or product — you’re calling on the wrong customers.
Why this matters.
Don’t make the mistake of working with people who are just getting started or have “cash flow issues.” (Customer translation they have no cash) The goal of this blog is to help you generate sales with customers who can pay you. Not to help you make connections with people who may be able to pay you in the future.
Wealthy companies are difficult to get into, but once you’re in, they make it much easier to get paid a lot of money. They don’t cause headaches that small companies do. They ask for less than small companies do. And if you do a good job, they will buy more.
The third element is the key to influencing or persuading someone.
2) Your prospects must be in pain
You should be looking for clients who have a “bleeding neck.”
The concept is simple.
Imagine you’re a surgeon who works in the E.R. and your prospects are all the people who are in the waiting room.
Who do you choose to work on first?
It’s not the guy who has a skinned up knee. He’s in pain, but he will live. It’s not the hypochondriac who wants information and to be assured that he is ok.
You want to work on the guy who is bleeding out from the neck and screaming for help.
I know that’s graphic — but that’s the kind of desperation you are looking for with prospects.
You need to focus on finding those companies that need your service so badly that when you find them, they see you as a lifesaver.
Why this matters.
When you work with companies that have a bleeding neck, not only will it be easier to close sales but you will also be providing a service that the customer will truly appreciate.
This leads to an easier working relationship, happy client interactions, creates immediate value for the client and opens up the possibility for future work.
4) Your prospects must be looking to make a decision now
A few years back I owned a 4 year old Audi.
The problem was my Audi kept breaking.
I found a garage to fix my car. A year passed, the Audi was still breaking. I was educating myself in car maintenance. I was interested in fixing my car but not motivated. I wanted a quick fix. I was making do, but more problems arose.
Fast forward. My car wasn’t leaving the garage.
I was losing business because I couldn’t reliably get to meetings.
I was motivated.
I made an offer on a new Audi. It was accepted!
Two weeks later the deal fell through.
Now I was scrambling.
Now, I had an urgent problem.
I couldn’t find the car I wanted. NOW, I had a bleeding neck.
I found a car I liked. I made three offers in three different dealerships.
I negotiated against all three of them.
I got a great deal.
Why does this matter?
Let’s look at the progression of our purchase.
1. Education –> 2. Interest –> 3. Motivation –> 4.Urgency
It wasn’t until we had an urgent problem that the deal was closed.
If you’re going to spend your time on a sale, you need to know the person is qualified. And if they aren’t qualified you need to be talking with someone who is.
The moral of the story. Don’t waste your time and resources on prospects who aren’t qualified.
The 4 Criteria Prospects Must Pass to Become Buyers Are:
- They must have the authority to make a decision
- They must have the ability to buy
- They must be in pain
- They must be looking to make a decision now (or at least very soon)
Here is the action for you this week.
Step 1. Look at your pipeline and ask yourself how many of these deals are you talking with the FINAL decision maker?
Step 2. In how many of the sales are you talking to someone merely involved in the decision?
Step 3. If you aren’t talking to the FINAL decision maker, your next order of business is to get in front of him.
- I hate spam. I never read any email from anyone I don’t know
- It doesn’t work – I’ve tried and failed
- Email is dead anyway, numbers using email are declining. Social Media is the way forward
- No one read our marketing emails that we’ve spent a fortune having designed
And on the other hand comments like these appeared:
- Email is a great channel to find new customers
- We mainly use email to retain clients
- Our email strategy gives the highest ROI of any of our marketing
So what’s going on? How can a relatively homogenous group have such different views on the effectiveness of email as a promotions and sales channel?
I believe the difference is between those that see email as a broadcast medium and those that seek to engage contacts by sharing knowledge and advice. To differentiate the two, I have coined the phrase email selling to describe this second activity.
The difference is stark:
|Email Marketing||Email Selling|
|Designed emails with lots of HTML and pictures||Plain emails, often short with limited or no design|
|Content talks about the sender “we’re great”, “we’ve got lots of clients”, “look at our services”, etc…||The content is focussed on the recipient: Useful knowledge; valuable advice and relevant stories|
|Everyone gets the same message||Recipients are segmented and receive different messages and customised content intended to be directly relevant to them.|
|Messages often originate from the marketing department||Messages are usually created with the involvement of sales department or other line of business users|
|Focus is on propagating brand and being “on message”||Focus is on giving great value to the recipients|
|Fire & forget||Regular engagement with further email or telephone follow up around the topic the recipient engaged with|
|Campaigns don’t evolve based on user behaviour||New messages are created and targeted based on engagement with past content|
|ROI difficult to measure||Known ROI based on a regular stream of new leads and closed sales|
So next time you are thinking about your email strategy think email selling over email marketing.
Not enough leads
Sales people generally fall into one of two categories: those that love generating their own leads and those that don’t! Most don’t.
The rare salesperson that is comfortable generating leads also tends to be poor at qualifying those leads into the pipeline. This person has worked hard to get leads into the pipeline so does not want to just dismiss them if they don’t quite fit. So you will often find their pipeline full of hopefuls that are never going to turn into business.
If you are lucky enough to have a salesperson that is good at generating leads, try switching them to only generating leads for the rest of the sales team and compensate this person for lead generated.
Should you not have this person in your team, dedicate resource and budget to generating good quality leads. You can do this by hiring into your team or use an external business like Nett Sales to bring you a regular stream of new leads for your sales team.
Poor or no CRM
How do you track your sales prospects? Can you identify all live prospects by sales stage, next action, predicted revenue and know why you lost and won every deal within a minute or so of being asked?
If not, you’re wasting time and working inefficiently. This information and so much more can be at your fingertips without wading through spreadsheets or lengthy reports.
CRM vendors don’t really help as most systems are complex, fully of unnecessary junk and don’t let you do what you want to do – progress prospects through a defined process and know where you are with each one.
Nett Sales deploys CRM systems that actually work, supporting sales teams to achieve their goals and giving them the information they need when they need it. Our CRM guru is happy to spend an hour on the phone with you helping you to get the most out of your current system.
No re-engagement of old leads
This is the biggest failing of every sales department we come across. Of the leads that you worked on in 2015, how many turned into customers? Maybe 10%. What about the other 90%? They had a requirement but the time was not right or they bought from a competitor or someone just forgot to call them back.
You don’t have time to call each of these leads every month or so – and you’d probably upset them anyway. So enrol them into a regular “engagement” strategy where you share relevant and interesting knowledge, hint and tips with them so that when they are ready to consider a purchase, you are front of mind.
When we run these campaigns for many businesses, we will do them in such a way that we know which old leads are engaging with the campaign and so can identify these to your sales team to get back in touch. Where we run these campaigns we often get another 10% to 20% of the old leads back into live sales situations within months.
You’ve already paid for these leads either with money or the effort of your team, so why not optimise the return on them?
You will also benefit from an integrated CRM system so that leads can be scored and tracked effectively.
Helping you succeed
Above are three areas where sales teams tend to fall down. It’s relatively easy to fix all three of these challenges with the right help. Nett Sales was set up 9 years ago to provide sales teams precisely this support – that’s all we do.
So please do get in touch if you want to regain control of your sales team and your life.
We have an immediate requirement for one or more telemarketers to work with Nett Sales LLP, in our premises South East of Swindon (close to M4 Junction 15). Initial training and most of the work will be held at Nett Sales. Once set up we are happy to accommodate flexible working and allow the successful candidate to work in their own offices/at home one day per week.
This will be a fantastic role for the right person. This is a flexible, permanent requirement for one or two individuals to work between 12 and 30 hours per week – mornings, afternoons or both (agreed in advance) in telemarketing and telephone sales support.
The calls that will be made will follow up warm leads for Nett Sales and selected clients. You will be calling as a researcher or customer service person to start conversation and assess interest amongst people who have just engaged with white papers and articles. The caller will require a conversational style, rather than following a sales script. The ability to quickly establish rapport on the phone and talk knowledgeably about a subject, based on a conversation plan, is vital.
The work will be predominantly telephone based but the successful candidate will become involved in most parts of the Nett Sales business. Opportunities for extended hours will be available from time to time for the fight person.
Nett Sales: A leading edge, digital media, sales and telemarketing business. The work is traditionally only offered by big City agencies. But now done in rural Wiltshire! You will be helping to research companies and start conversation with known contacts to generate sales opportunities for clients using email, telephone, web & social media.
• Successful calls will be where a conversation has taken place and the contact has been qualified into one of a number of defined categories
• A genuine interest in sales, lead generation and customer relationship is important
• You must be able to think for yourself and contribute to the debate on getting more sales and winning opportunities
• Must be able to communicate verbally, in writing and be efficient in typing
• Interpersonal skills important – the ability to chat to business people
• Confidence on the phone
• Confidence to express opinions
• Ability to ‘mirror people’; talk with them the way they talk with you
• Can work unsupervised
• ‘Can do’ attitude
• Good knowledge around IT, technology and business use of IT is helpful be not essential
• Interested in people and their views
• Experience in a customer facing, telephone sales or telemarketing role is preferred but full training will be given
A member of staff who chooses to work from home (1 day per week max.) will require home PC with Windows 7 or 8, MS Office 10, home / office broadband and WIFI. In order to help you be as effective as possible we train in advance, make test calls with you, track the calling efforts, record all calls and give you regular feedback. For the right person and for exceptional work, small top up bonuses are available.
Duties will include:
• Making conversational, telephone follow up and sales calls to follow up knowledge led emails sales or web registrations, to an engaged contact list
• Working with an experienced telephone and sales team in a senior, experienced telephone sales role
• Updating client data and telephone activity in a CRM system
• Various web research
• Processing email replies
• Handling new customer enquiries and questions
• Handling feedback, product updates, offers and additional training from the above parties
• Working with team to run sales campaigns
Located in Aldbourne, 6 miles from Swindon on the 46 & 48 bus route from Swindon & Marlborough. And with staff parking available
Friendly and relaxed office. Can fit hours around bus times and a contribution towards travel is possible.
All calls will be made within normal UK business hours but within reason you can select mornings or afternoons with us in advance. Salary rates are between £8 and £10 per hour rate. Wage quoted is approx. and will depend upon experience. Payment will be based on hours worked and telephone performance levels achieved.
Previous sales, customer service, call centre or telemarketing experience is preferred but not essential. If you are interested and believe you have what it takes to give this a try, please submit your application and CV.
Nett Sales will be holding a New Year, January afternoon open day for regional candidates, entitled ‘No Trust Bye!’ This will help interested individuals to:
- explore career opportunities in telemarketing and telephone research
- understand the key skills behind a conversational telephone approach
- see real examples of telephone conversation starting, but short on scripts and big on conversation
- discuss the role of trust in sales and customer service
- learn how to be interesting and interested in customer views, opinions and feedback
And if you like what you see, get the opportunity to hone and show your skills with us and our clients.
If you want to book your place on the Open Day, to apply for the position, or have questions please call Carl Wheatley or Simon West on 01672 505050 or email firstname.lastname@example.org