In the world of B2B sales, there’s no one to hold your hand. Whether just starting out, or well versed in the art of business sales, you need to face facts that a lot of it is up to you. A good manager will guide you and offer advice when you seek it, but to see true sales success, you need to be pro-active. Set yourself goals, and spend time doing your research so you can learn from the experts and refine your talents into B2B sales skills. That’s where this blog comes in…
Having looked to the B2B sales experts, we’ve gathered five of our favorites, each with inspirational teachings we can all learn from. The more sales experts you read from, the better you’ll understand both selling techniques and what the prospect desires. These experts speak from experience- learning what they have to say will save you from many unpleasant experiences in the future, so you can devote time to practicing your skill and discovering new experiences for yourself.
1) Jill Konrath
Jill Konrath has four bestselling sales books published; recognized as a modern sales strategy leader, she helps translate difficult sales concepts into actionable tactics and processes that B2B salespeople can apply instantly to gain results. Read more from Jill Konrath here.
“As sellers, if we’re going to be successful landing the big ones, we need to expand our thinking about what’s possible.”
Konrath released a blog where she talks about catching those “big fish”- the larger sales that make a huge difference to your revenue target and can take months to achieve. She continues the fishing analogy, and says if you want to catch those bigger fish- you need to rethink how you’re going to do it. You can’t just jump in with the same (or a very similar) approach as you would a smaller fish and believe you’ll see the same results. Her advice is as follows-
- “Use some new bait”- Though you can’t change what you’re selling, Konrath recommends finding a new way of getting the message across, with new vocab and especially new email copy that caters for the business needs of the bigger fish!
- “Change where we’re fishing”- When you’re going for big fish, you need to be aware that their decision making process will differ. Job titles you wouldn’t usually consider decision making, may now be the exact people you need to speak to. Konrath suggests attending some events where your bigger fish will be represented, and striking up conversations to gain a better understanding of how their organization works.
- “Cast a wider net(work)”- You need to go the extra mile when seeking a bigger fish, so look to your second LinkedIn connections and work to find a referral (or even better- a few referrals!). If you create a small, specific network around the bigger fish, they’ll welcome you into the circle easily as an addition, as opposed to seeing you as an outsider.
Konrath ends with great advice we can all put to good use- “Experiment. Change things up. Get creative. That’s what it takes today to land the big ones!”
2) Jeffrey Gitomer
With thirteen bestselling sales books under his belt, Jeffrey Gitomer has earned the right to call himself “the King of Sales”! He’s passionate about giving practical advice sales teams can easily put to use, on anything from networking and social selling, to objections and buying motives. Check out his blog here.
“If you would do it after your competition does it to “meet” them, why wouldn’t you do it before they do it and “beat” them?”
Gitomer recently wrote about being a leader in B2B sales. It’s not about having a leading product, it’s about setting yourself up in the prospects mind as the leading brand. If your prospect is researching the market, in conversation with several of your competitors, why hold information back and wait for them to say “Well, X can do that- can you?”. Switch this around- you want them to tell your competitor “Well I already know [your business name] can do that for me…”. As Gitomer concisely puts it- “Why not set the standard and let others try to catch you?”.
When it comes to leadership in the B2B sales process, if you don’t claim it from the off, it’s likely you’ll never gain it at all, and you’ll see your competitors take the lead. If you think about it now, it’s likely there’s something you could say to all of your prospects that would out-manoeuvre your competitors. But if you don’t say it at the start of the buyer’s journey, it doesn’t have the effect of leadership- it has the effect of scrounging.
We’ll end on this food for thought from Gitomer- “leaders don’t respond to trends- they set them”.
3) Andy Paul
Andy Paul does it all- bestselling sales author, top-rated podcaster, B2B sales coach and adviser, he explores what every B2B sales rep and organization find essential. He is passionate about building a level of respect and trust between the prospect and the salesperson, believing that relationship is what fundamentally closes a sale. Read Andy Paul’s blog here.
“If you can’t provide more value to the buyer than your website, how are you helping?”
We’ve spent most of this month writing about B2B sales, and here, Paul supports a statement we’ve been keen to communicate. You must give your prospect something of value on every phone call. Paul points out (very rightly!) that if you’ve worked so hard to get the prospects attention, why then would you just go into a pre-prepared script regurgitating what’s already on your website?
This is where Paul highlights the importance of questions. He boldly claims “selling doesn’t start until you ask a question”, and this is precisely why. On a B2B sales call, you need to give the prospect something valuable they can take away with them, something they couldn’t get anywhere else. To know what the prospect values, you need to ask them some questions and quickly grasp what they need, and how you can give them the ultimate solution. Ask open ended questions that fuel more questions from both parties, even if you already know the answer from checking their website. Looking like you’ve done research is important, but so is getting them talking and knowing for sure what they need from you.
After all- “how many buyers do you know that are prepared to invest their limited time to listen to an advert?”.
4) Craig Elias
Christened by Forbes as “one of the most social sales people on earth”, Craig Elias is known to be a sales superstar whatever environment he works in. Named #1 salesperson at WorldCom just six months after starting, he is happy to share his sales secrets with the world via his new book and his ever growing blog- read more here.
“Some people say that to be successful in sales you need to be liked, while others say you need to be trusted. I think you need to be both liked and trusted, as well as being the person they know and want to see succeed.”
In a recent blog about how to prevent stalled deals, Elias highlights the importance of being a person the prospect not only likes and trusts, but a person the prospect sees as what’s called an “emotional favourite”. In essence, this is who the decision maker is most keen to do business with (above your competitors AND colleagues!) because you’ve made a connection that goes deeper than the deal in question.
This of course comes down to “having things in common”, and Elias highlights three different ways this can come to fruition in a B2B sales relationship:
- “Interests”- finding a common interest outside of a work environment, anything from hobbies, supporting the same sports teams or both having kids that like Mickey Mouse. Find a non-work related interest and get them talking. Elias recommends asking about their previous weekend, or plans for this weekend as an opener, to grasp a bit about their home-life.
- “Values”- whilst discussing interests, open up about your values, family, career, creativity, perseverance, and let them disclose theirs. This shifts small talk to deeper discussion, and strengthens the bond created between buyer and seller, and also leaves a far more memorable conversation than any of your competitors could have.
- “Aspirations”- this leads nicely into sharing aspirations. What you really want out of business, and life in general. This not only continues to strengthen that bond and lasting impression, but also provides insight into what your prospect is keen to achieve, and how you can help them do it.
Wonderfully put by Elias- “align your success with their success, and almost anything is possible”.
5) Anthony Iannarino
Specializing in the more complex B2B sales, Anthony Iannarino remains a highly respected international speaker, bestselling author and a sales leader. An influential thought leader in sales strategy, any B2B salesperson would do well to keep up with his daily blog and implement his valuable teachings. Access his blog here.
“You must want a yes more than your prospective client wants their no.”
A short and simple statement but something we should all consider. Iannarino wants to add a disclaimer here- this statement does not hint at salespeople acting in a selfish or self-orientated way to get their “yes”; it refers wholly to professional persistence with an intelligent outlook.
If you receive a “no”- there’s no point asking the same questions again, like a petulant child. You need to approach the same topic, with a modified approach, creating greater value for the prospect to consider. No matter how many times you need to dress up the same questions, never ask the same thing twice and always choose your words based on the prospect’s needs. If you persist, in this professional and insightful manner, you’ll start to see the “yes” you want so desperately get closer. It all comes back to that prospect-centric attitude, how you can put them first, but still meet your needs underneath.
Iannarino stresses how crucial timing is in the process too. If your prospect says no, leave them to keep their “no” for a little while. Then approach them again in search for the “yes” with your amended proposal. You’re not giving up on them, but you’re not pestering and pushing them away either.
Always remember- “you value the relationship more than the transaction”.
So now we’ve heard it from the B2B experts, I’m sure you’re ready to take all this new sales knowledge and apply it to your everyday practices, so you can see the sales success roll in! But if that’s your plan- you’re going to need some high-quality leads to call…
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