The Biggest Mistake B2B Salespeople Make

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:

  1. The 4 qualifications every prospect must have to become a customer
  2. The biggest mistake almost every B2B salesperson makes
  3. B2B Sales vs. Consumer Sales
  4. 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:

  1. They must have the authority to make a decision
  2. They must have the ability to buy (i.e. The Money)
  3. They must be in pain
  4. 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.

In recap:

The 4 Criteria Prospects Must Pass to Become Buyers Are:

  1. They must have the authority to make a decision
  2. They must have the ability to buy
  3. They must be in pain
  4. 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.

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