Are Your B2B Selling Skills Up to Date?
Over the past few decades a seismic paradigm shift has occurred in the best practices associated with effective B2B selling. While some of the shift has to do with the evolution of the B2B selling model transitioning from competitive to consultative, a significant portion has to do with the globalization of the marketplace and the leveraging of new technologies. As a result, many organizations are left with a sales staff that is trying to fight a modern war with antiquated weapons and strategies.
From about 1975 through 1995, the prevailing B2B sales approach was largely competitive, with the “power salesman” enjoying the opportunities brought on by rapid technological advances in industries like telecommunications, information technology, and healthcare. These changes made the world a smaller place, giving rise to new global markets as traditional barriers fell. Upon closer look, the approach seemed more a win-lose model than a win-win one.
The consultative B2B sales model emerged in the mid to late 1990’s as customers demanded more from the partners in their supply chain. The consultative model differs from its predecessors in these eight important ways:
- It moves from transactional to relational.
- It depends on greater research and planning.
- It focuses on functional decision makers, not just on purchasing agents.
- It requires deep-dive needs assessments.
- It addresses a customer’s uncovered needs, not selling to the salesperson’s agenda.
- It moves from products and services to solutions.
- It requires account profiling and management strategies.
- It leverages technological advances that make the world a smaller place.
Assess Your Methods. The first step is to evaluate your current methods against the eight items above. The old saying, don’t go bear hunting with a fishing pole, rings true. If your methods and approaches retain elements of the competitive sales model, you will miss the vast opportunities available to consultative providers. Absent a consultative approach, you’ll have to rely on being a low price provider in order to compete. Even so, you’ll lose market share to competitors utilizing a consultative model that delivers value to your low price, placing your margins in slow leak mode.
Assess Your Staff. Even if your organization has transitioned to a more consultative selling model, how do you know that each member of your sales team is actually executing the consultative approach at a high degree of proficiency? Online assessments such as the B2B Sales Essentials℠ Assessment reliably and inexpensively measure what an individual knows and understands about current and emerging B2B sales best practices. Look for an assessment that will provide you with national or international benchmark information against which you can measure your organization’s staff.
Assess Your Leaders. Your organization will only go as far as your leaders take it. Leaders need to be assessed along with your selling staff, in order to assure they know, use, teach and coach the consultative model. You might want to include marketing and the other sales-support / customer-facing functions in your company.
Train to Fill Gaps. Once you’ve assessed your organization, the gaps between best practices and current practices will be obvious. The leaders need to be trained first, both in the new skills as well as how to best manage and coach the consultative model with their staff. Once the leaders are trained and proficient, devise a program that enables an efficient rollout of training for all customer-facing staff.
Catch People Doing it Right. In order to change an organization’s approach, leaders must be in the field observing, teaching, and coaching the new skills. While the sales report will be a good indicator of progress, the greatest returns on investment occur with intentional time spent with customer-facing staff, helping them master the full set of consultative B2B selling skills.
The world neither stands still nor slows down to let you catch up. It is a short distance between yesterday’s outdated approaches and those required for today’s highly competitive and global economy. Are you absolutely certain you are not leaving sales, profits and customer loyalty to chance with outmoded B2B selling skills?
Boyer Management Group works with businesses and institutions that want to get the very best out of their people. Our landmark program, Business to Business Sales Essentials℠, produces an exceptional ROI measured in weeks, not years. We’ve helped companies produce more than $10B in sales using this method, and we’re just getting started! To find out more about how your organization can enjoy greater sales, higher profits, and more loyal customers, please visit us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or
call us at 215-942-0982.