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  • Writer's pictureBrian Shea

"The Truth About B2B Sales Best Practices: Are They Really BS?"

"Sales is hard," and some B2B sales leaders are making it harder. SBI Growth reported that nearly two-thirds of CEOs did not have confidence in their teams' ability to execute the company's 2024 growth strategy. So why make it harder?

There are three options for senior revenue leaders to identify and deploy a growth strategy.

Option 1 - Define the strategy within the executive leadership ranks

The Problem - The subjective (in)experience of ELT limits inside-out thinking. Option 2 - Hire a sales performance consulting firm to bring "best practices" to the leadership team

The Problem - This is still inside-out thinking but done inside another company's leadership team. These "best practices" have a unique customer application, are impacted by dynamic market conditions, and are influenced by complex decision-making processes in someone else's firm.

Option 3 - Enable direct buyer feedback from each customer that identifies the exact skills deployed to affect buyers actions in changing from the status quo.

The Problem - There is no issue if you operate from the buyers' voice.

Lately, our team has been collaborating with a sales leader from a software development company. This firm is currently facing challenges such as missed sales projections, a weak new opportunity pipeline, and a decrease in pipeline speed. The sales leader mentioned that they have a group of salespeople focused on solution selling. However, when questioned about the rationale behind choosing "solution selling" as the sales approach, he was unable to provide a clear explanation. He was surprised to learn that solution selling is less effective when compared to problem-solving techniques.

According to a research study led by Dr. Leff Bonney, "solution-minded sellers—who focus on matching their product to the buyer’s stated needs—are 30 percent less effective than sellers who take a problem-minded approach to discovery.

Problem-minded sellers spend more time understanding their buyer’s situation by using

problem scoping, problem clarity, and solution clarity questions. It’s the most effective approach, but less than 13 percent of sellers use this method."

We also compared the essential skills listed in his company's recent job postings with those of three other software development/IT services firms. All four companies overlooked the chance to recruit problem-minded salespeople, opting for position requirements based on an "inside out" approach.

Company 1

Company 2

  • Consistent record of growing a business successfully over the years through strong client relationships

  • Able to engage COO-level and COO-1 level executives in large deal, solution, transition, and transformation shaping discussions

  • Effectively communicates with stakeholders at all levels including COO, LoB Owners, and his/her direct reports

  • Property & Casualty – Solid understanding of P&C solutions covering everything from distribution through underwriting is a must

  • Ability to work collaboratively in a virtual and highly-matrixed environment

  • Excellent communication and facilitation skills

  • Demonstrated strong leadership skills, particularly with highly diverse teams

  • 5+ years of experience in a senior-level application services seller with good knowledge and prior experience and a strong track record in selling digital / cloud solutions

  • Minimum of 8 years of experience in selling Cloud based data solutions, analytical data warehouses, cloud data migration solutions, analytics/reporting 

  • Minimum of 8 years’ Sales Pursuit Management experience.

  • Minimum of 2 years’ experience in direct sales with quota preferably in excess of $20M+ 

  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent (minimum 12 years) work experience. (If Associate’s Degree, must have minimum 6 years work experience)

Company 3

Company 4

  • At least 12-15 years of experience in selling IT Services in Tier-1 or Tier-2 competitive organizations

  • Strong knowledge of global delivery model (GDM) and methodologies. Should be familiar with cross selling various service lines for customers

  • Ability to present and interact at Cxo levels, and have consultative sales capability.

  • Ability to work and collaborate across other teams in various service lines and anchor together for the account.

  • Ability to manage multi-cultural teams and travel to different client locations - mostly within US and sometimes across the world if needed for expanding our footprint in other geographies.

  • Exposure to delivery, sales or pre-sales roles will be required

  • Should have managed a multi-million USD account, across various geos.

  • Strong Account Management - building and managing client relationships at the CxO level.

  • Carry targets on revenue, bookings and OM.

  • Sales Process / Skill - Knowing how to identify, progress, and close deals, navigating buyers and politics creatively. A clear recent/current sales background, even better with some delivery at the start of it. Someone who carries a 10+M individual quota, not a manager of teams, an individual contributor. Bonus if they are coming from a competitor or consulting firm.

  • Knowledge of product - Understanding of product development services, digital products, building applications and consulting around things like cloud, QA, UI/UX.

  • Industry acumen - Knows the cybersecurity space, has worked with technical buyers at security-related clients in the past (Cisco, Juniper, Checkpoint, Fortinet, Sonicwall) and a huge added bonus if they have sold into Cisco and understand the politics there.

  • Aggressiveness - Being the person that will ask the tough questions and qualify hard.

  • Communication Skills - Can carry a strategic conversation with a c-suite buyer and a technical conversation with a mid-level VP (most of our buyers)

Why is investing in "best practices" considered fool's gold? It's due to the significant changes in buying processes and buyer behavior. Nowadays, buyers hold the power, and decision-making authority lies with executives. Many companies are not equipped to thrive in today's B2B market. Corporate Visions reports that 67% of B2B sales organizations admit they struggle to persuade executive-level prospects to make immediate purchases. Furthermore, only 39% feel confident in their capacity to create a compelling business case to support a decision.

These issues are crucial as 80 percent of deals will need approval from a VP or a higher-level executive. If executives do not support the deal, it will lead to delays, loss of momentum, and a decrease in closing rates. Delays in proposals and lost deals indicate a breakdown in communicating value. When salespeople are in front of a CXO, they have only one opportunity to capture their interest. If salespeople lack confidence, knowledge, and insight, the executives will dismiss them without a second thought, and your company may not get another chance. When salespeople lack the skills and confidence to steer the conversation, create urgency, and demonstrate business impact, executive buyers will not take action. To help B2B salespeople overcome their apprehension when dealing with executives, they must understand what drives their decision-making and how to prompt immediate action. This underscores the importance of basing strategies on customer feedback rather than internal ELT opinions or irrelevant "best practices."

In conclusion, let go of the nonsense and adopt a neuroscience-based approach.


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