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If Buyers Are Failing, Sales Can’t Succeed

by David Brock on March 10th, 2021

Recently, I wrote, Rethinking Sales Enablement. I suggested we might do better by thinking Buyer Enablement. I want to build on this theme.

Human nature, I suppose, causes us to focus on our success. Are we winning the deals we choose to pursue? Are we making our number? Are we achieving the goals we’ve committed to achieve?

We measure our success based on our ability to achieve our goals.

But we are missing something important. If our buyers fail, we fail-or we underperform our potential.

Let’s look at a couple of data points.

We’ve long known, courtesy of Gartner, that 53% of buying decisions end in no decision made. (BTW, Hank Barnes has a fascinating follow up on that in his post, No Decisions Should Rarely Be A Surprise.)

Other Gartner data points indicate 70% of B2B buyers have regrets over their biggest purchases. 74% of B2B buyers consider buying complex.

Much older data from Morten Hansen shows 75% of company cross functional teams are dysfunctional.*

I could go on with data from other studies, but I’ll stop here. The issue is, If our customers fail in their change management issues, then however well we try to sell,

Stated differently, if we want to be more successful in selling, we have to help our customers succeed.

Yet very little of what we teach or coach our sales people to do focuses on how we help our customers to succeed.

Asking discovery questions focused on identifying needs for our products don’t help our customers succeed, particularly if the customer doesn’t really know what they need to do or how to improve their ability to achieve their goals.

Presentation techniques, objection handling, closing, prospecting technique are not helpful to our customers.

Our ability to sell is simply limited by our customers’ ability to succeed in their change initiatives. So if we want to improve our results, we have to focus on helping our customers improve their efforts.

But this is just the “tip of the iceberg,” as we assess the opportunities our customers face. What I’ve focused on, so far, are customers that have committed to change, but struggle and fail.

The greatest opportunity is those customers who should be changing, but don’t recognize that fact! We have the opportunity to help more customers do more, by helping them to recognize the opportunity they may be missing and inciting them to change.

It seems so obvious, sometimes I feel like a broken record (Hmm, what’s the streaming analogy for this?). We can be so much more successful and grow much faster if we simply help our customers be more successful.

Why do we make selling so complicated?

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