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Selling Is A Human Process

by David Brock on January 26th, 2021

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 on 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, and 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 continues to decline. The percent of customers abandoning their buyers’ journeys 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 sight 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 become 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.

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5 Comments
  1. Joël van Beelen permalink

    ‘X company is The Leader (more on PR Newswire) in AI enabled Cloud Based Pet-tracking.

    Amongst our backers you will find top investors like Hubris Capital and Meh Investment Strategies. (We will keep growing this list since interest rates are low and money has to go somewhere).

    We’re on a crazy roller coaster ride! (meaning we hire and fire like crazy).

    In this role (intern) you will reach out to industry leading executives (who are at least twice your age) to connect with them and show them the business impact of our AI enabled solution (a world’s first – of course).

    What you bring to the table:

    A proven track record of susceptibility to BS;
    A hunter mentality (but no open carry);
    Affinity with AI enabled Cloud Based Pet-tracking;
    A basic understanding of SaaS selling (where you’re positioned in the SPAM-cycle).

    You are willing to learn working with and neurotically updating of all sorts of dashboards, metrics, kpi’s and other administrative items that give your managers and VC’s the illusion of control and predictability (we have Salesforce crm because that’s the one our VC’s are accustomed to).

    When we ask you if you are curious, if you read or even actually think, just say ‘yes’. (We are clueless when it comes to hiring for that).

    X company is a gender loving organisation and we have no biases (apart from our algo’s).

    We have fruit for lunch and you can bring your dog. (This should be seen as making up for your poor salary).

    Typically you’ll last for three months.

    Apply now!’

  2. John Sterrett permalink

    Absolutely it’s about people.

    (Unusual number of grammatical errors on this one, Dave)

    • John, thanks so much. Writing way too fast. Will go back and correct. Sorry (he says sheepishly)

  3. Brian MacIver permalink

    Great Topic Dave,

    I did a Blog on this 10 years ago.

    http://brianmaciver.blogspot.com/2010/11/is-sales-enablement-really-disabling.html

    or Expressed worries over Sales Productivity,
    which has REMAINED LOW for the last decade.

    http://brianmaciver.blogspot.com/2010/09/sales-automation-leads-to-low.html

    Finally, I wrote BIG piece trying to get to the bottom of it,
    I used a mining example because Coal Mining MATTERED when I was a boy.

    Today, I would use the Metaphor of Pandemics,
    should we use Science or Politicians?

    It would appear if you want a prophecy on pandemics you listen to a Journalist, or an Astrologer, if only we had listened to Bill Gates:

    https://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates_the_next_outbreak_we_re_not_ready?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

    In sales we have to get back to listening to BUYERS or LOSE.

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