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Jan 26 21

Selling Is A Human Process

by David Brock

In the past 10 years, we’ve done everything we can to take the “human” out of complex B2B selling.

We’ve mechanized the process, focusing on our efficiency and less the customer buying experience. We inflict mass, meaningless outreaches across increasing numbers of channels and increasing volumes of suspects.

Sales growth has become a “predictable” math equation. “If it takes so many emails/dials to produce a conversation, to double the conversations, we simply double the emails/dials.”

Rather than focusing on listening, learning, sharing, we have tools focused on conversational intelligence–but they can’t conduct high impact conversations.

We focus on the numbers and not what the numbers mean. Customers become widgets in our efficient sales strategy. They are processed by SDRs, SEs, Demo people, Account Managers and others. We move them from one step to the next, not taking the time to recognize these are people dealing with very complex issues.

And we are failing–but we hide that failure of our models in volumes. Again, if 1 million outreaches doesn’t achieve the goal, we up the outreaches until it achieves the goal.

And we are still failing. The percent of people making quota continue to decline. The percent of customers abandoning their buyer’s journey with no decision made is very high-at 53%. And buyer regret is increasing at an alarming rate.

It’s a perfect storm—but with everything going against what we and the customer want to achieve.

We’ve lost site that complex B2B buying is all about people, about human interaction–within the buying group, between us and the buyers. If buying were easy, if solving the problems and having confidence in those solutions were easy, none of this would be happening.

But the biggest issue facing customers is decision confidence–not in vendor selection, but rather, “Are they making the right business decision.” They worry about it personally and organizationally.

And it’s something that logic, data, endless testimonials and success stories won’t overcome.

It really becomes about human relationships. Do we care enough about the buyer and their success? Do they know it? Do we recognize the importance of their confidence in their decision and are we helping them become more confident?

We confuse relationships and selling being all about people with likability. Consequently, we focus on the wrong things in building relationships. We focus on surface issues—the lunches, the birthday cards, golf, and the “social” things we think build relationships.

But the real issue is helping them be confident, demonstrating that we care, building trust in the relationship, recognizing the risks are greater on the buyer side than what we face with the simple win/loss of a deal.

Complex B2B buying and selling is all about people, aligning interests, and building shared confidence in the path forward. It’s about helping people make sense of what they face, sifting through the complexity, conflicting ideas/agendas, risks, information overload and constant disruptions. It’s helping them map a course to achieving their goals, and supporting them in doing so.

Sales has always been about people and relationships. Customers have always known that, we just seem to have lost our way.

Jan 26 21

Getting What We Want

by David Brock

Sales people are singularly focused on making sales—getting the PO. In some sense, that’s great. We want sales people to be driven to win deals, to get new orders, to grow our revenue.

Sadly, though, this singular focus on orders actually doesn’t serve us well. We miss the key issue that drives our ability to get an order.

We focus on getting what we want–the PO. But we will never get what we want until our customers get what they need–a solution to the problem they are trying to address.

While this is so obvious, it should elicit bored “Dugghhh’s” from each of you, The behaviors of so many sales people fail to recognize this.

Think of the emails you get–or your people send. “If you can get me an order by the end of the quarter, we would consider a discount!” Or the variations focused on getting us the PO when we want/need it, while ignoring what the customer needs/wants to achieve.

The fastest, most effective way for us to get what we want, is to help the customer get what they want/need.

The only reason customers buy is to help them solve a problem, address an opportunity or to achieve goals. But they struggle in the problem solving process. They lose their way, they don’t know what they should be looking at, they don’t know what they might achieve, they worry about the risk-both personal and organizational. They worry about the change management issues, they worry about time to results.

All these things stand in the way of the customer getting what they want/need. Until we can help the customer understand these, we won’t get what we want. Until the customer becomes confident in their ability to be successful in the change management initiative, we can’t get what we want.

Yet, we continue to focus on we want, not helping the customer get what they want.

We also miss an opportunity. We don’t help the customer with what they are doing. We don’t get them to reimagine possibilities. For example, what if we can accelerate time to results? Or the counter to that, what are the consequences of delaying solving this problem? We focus on making the customer confident in our product, yet we don’t realize their biggest issue is their confidence in making things happen within their own organization.

What is we changed our approach, not eliminating our focus on what we want, but recognizing our success is only realized when we help our customer get what they want and they see the clear path to their success.

Sales isn’t that tough when we focus on the right things.

Jan 25 21

The Problem With Our “Discovery Process”

by David Brock

We’ve all been taught the importance of “discovery.” It’s that process where we pummel our prospects with questions to discover their needs, priorities, and their decision-making process.

It’s in the discovery process that we actually figure out what it takes to win–earn the customer’s business.

But there are several problems with the way we do this:

First, too often, we really don’t do discovery, we focus on pitching our products and companies, not taking the time to understand what the customer is trying to achieve. Instead, arrogantly, we leave it to the customer to figure out whether what we do helps them with what they want to do.

Sometimes, we do better, we ask them questions about their needs, priorities, goals, challenges, etc. We’re taught how to drill down in our questions, to quantify and qualify our understanding of what the customer needs. This provides us the context in which we will later present our solutions, demonstrating how we help them achieve their goals and create value for them.

In our discovery, we are, too often, doing it selectively, discovering just what we think we need to start pitching our products. And we race through our discover, because what we really care about is pitching our products.

But there’s an implicit assumption in this process, it’s the assumption the customer knows what they need. It’s the assumption they know how to buy–not just select a solution, but the know what they should be looking for, how to align the agendas and priorities of the buying committee, and what they need to do.

There’s a problem with “our” discovery process! It’s because we think it’s “ours.” In reality, it is more about the customer’s discovery.

The customer is trying to learn. They may have done some research–beginning their learning journey. But the solutions are just a small part of what the customer needs to learn—and often they don’t know what they need to learn.

More importantly, they need to discover a lot more than just learning about solutions. They are addressing a much bigger issue than selecting a solution. They are looking to solve a business problem, address a new opportunity, grow/improve their business, achieve goals and dreams. These are much broader than a product. But they are what the customer cares about–or needs to care about.

They are also trying to discover how this impacts the rest of their organization—who else is involved, who should be involved, how/why they need to be part of the problem solving process? They are trying to figure out how to get alignment with all these parties–what ate they trying to achieve, what are their agendas, how does the team work together?

But customers struggle in their process–they’ve probably never done it before, at least for this problem/opportunity. They may not know how to organize themselves. They may not know what they should be trying to learn. They may feel they are alone, not knowing how others have addressed similar problems.

Too often, they get lost. 53% of them never get to “end of job.”

And that’s tragic, it’s an opportunity they have been unable to address, just because they didn’t know how to address it and to manage themselves to a solution.

What an opportunity! As sales people, we’ve seen this same situation dozens of times before. We know how to help the customer with their discovery.

What if we focused not just on our discovery, but also helped the customer with their discovery? What if we made the discovery process less about what we need to know, and more about what we and the customer learn together?

Jan 19 21

Is Your Solution Easy To Buy?

by David Brock

We focus a lot of our sales enablement and related efforts on making our products and services easier to sell. We provide training, tools, coaching, support to our sales people. We want them to master everything about our products and solutions so they can easily sell them

But we are missing something important. Just because we are making our offerings easier to sell, doesn’t mean we will sell more.

We need to think about how we make our products easier to buy.

Too often, when I talk about this, people think about the ordering process. They think about on-line shopping carts, other types of electronic ordering, or well trained/polite order entry professionals.

While we shouldn’t overlook that, we need, instead, to think of the customer buying journey. We need, at each step, think about, “How do we make it easier for them to accomplish this step? How do we make them, first, more effective, then more efficient? How do we help each person in the buying team learn what they need to learn? How do we help them more effectively align around what they are trying to achieve?”

The magic is, the easier we make it for them to execute their buying journey, the easier we make it for us (or our partners) to sell.

Sometimes, we make it hard to buy, because we offer our customers too much choice. We want to demonstrate the richness, functionality, and capability of our solutions. We inundate our customers with endless feature/function comparisons, believing that having more than our competition is better.

We dump endless data sheets, case studies, marketing brochures on them. In demos, we tediously show every feature, function, capability of our products.

Instead of making it easier for them to buy, we confuse them. We make it more difficult to make a choice because we have overwhelmed them.

What if we changed how we engage our customers. Understanding what they are trying to do, understanding what they believe they need, helping them learn about new things that might help them and agreeing on those.

Then what if we just presented our solutions in the context of those priorities. And we ignored confusing the customer with all of our favorite features and functions, focusing only on those issues we and the customer have agreed are most important.

Our customers are overwhelmed with complexity. Too often, we add to that complexity, presenting all the richness of our solutions, and increasing the perceived complexity. And all our competitors are doing the same thing. Soon, they are overwhelmed with decisions and choice.

Our customers just want to achieve their goals—and they want to do it as simply as possible. Sometimes, simplifying, reducing the number of choices, makes it so much simpler and easier to buy.

Making our offerings easier to buy, makes them so much easier to sell.