I always like to give simple, easy-to-follow, and easy to execute sales coaching techniques and the B2B world is getting far too complicated for my liking when it comes down to keeping things simple.
Everywhere I turn, I am seeing new “ideas” as to how to grow sales with the latest playbook or “closing formula” that will take you to the dizzy heights of success in rapid time.
Unfortunately, most of these are completely useless and will do nothing more than de-rail your real efforts to get out there and sell your products and/or services to generate revenue.
As I say time and time again, there are no “secrets,” shortcuts, or magic pills to achieve success and if they were out there, I would have found them!
Take a look at this article to see another perspective on the challenges of B2B sales.
After forty years in sales and business, I have searched heaven and earth for exactly the same…as we all do…but I resigned myself to accepting that I had to go back to good old-fashioned hard work and to keep things as simple as possible.
Let’s get to it!
1. Stop Apologizing
It’s all about starting with the right attitude — you are a salesperson and your job is to help your customers succeed, which is where your value proposition comes into play.
Too many salespeople walk into customer meetings feeling inferior and this means either one or both of the following:
- Your value proposition is weak and not compelling enough.
- You don’t believe in yourself enough to articulate your value proposition with the necessary conviction.
Any CEO or executive leader worth their salt will listen to anyone who can genuinely help them succeed…it’s their job and the job entrusted to them by their shareholders.
It doesn’t matter whether it is a private or public company, shareholders are key even if the CEO is the sole shareholder!
They will thank you profusely if you help them achieve their goals and remember…you are equal to them as human beings, regardless of how big or small your company is.
Get out there and evangelize…to the right people, which is part of the process, and be proud of who you are, what you represent, and the value it brings to your customers.
And with absolutely no inferiority complex or apologies.
2. Pressure Test Your Value Proposition
Do you really help your customers with what you offer, or are you just filling their heads with verbiage and empty promises?
Say what you do and do what you say
There is nothing worse than being on the end of a call or sitting in a meeting where you have to listen to a salesperson struggle through their pitch without clearly articulating what they can do for you and crumble into a heap when they are asked some tough questions.
You have to pressure test what you offer and make sure it stands up to scrutiny.
If you are in the staffing and recruiting sector for example, then you are not just selling a person for a job, you are selling the value of what that person can bring in monetary terms to the organization.
It doesn’t matter what the person does, because, in a commercial world, everyone contributes in some way to the bottom line, by saving money, making it, or both.
If you are selling high-tech software, then you must focus on the outcome of that software and how it streamlines processes and procedures, or powers better and more accurate management decision making as another example.
Too many salespeople focus on the “how’s” rather than the outcome.
Sales Coaching: Work In Anticipation
Once you have clearly identified this, you must now start to anticipate tough questions and have the answers.
There should be no question that your customer could ask, that you don’t have an answer for…if you have really thought carefully about it.
Preparedness and working in anticipation are the keys and then you must be able to remain calm under pressure.
Now make sure that you can present your value proposition succinctly, to any audience.
3. Sales Coaching: Make Sure You Have The Data
I am amazed when people tell me we are now in a data-driven world — we always have been!
It’s the same when I hear people tell me that we now need to prepare for being “digital” and here is a course to help you.
Charles Babbage paved the way for digitization way back in the 1800s, and as humans, it’s human nature to compile data as part of decision-making.
In today’s high-tech world, we are creating masses of data, most of which will probably not be utilized in the short term, but that gives you an opportunity to support your value proposition with hard facts effortlessly.
Be creative and go beyond just supporting your proposition.
If you are selling an enterprise solution for example, then look at all of the touchpoints…where you impact your customer and provide data to support the outcomes of each touchpoint.
Let’s say it’s a software enterprise solution and you have identified the key outcome and where you can pinpoint exactly how you help your customer succeed.
But during the process, your software enables two important business functions, marketing, and engineering to communicate more efficiently (this was actually a key benefit of a software solution I once sold), then you will have created another touchpoint of value.
In my case and using the example above, we were able to reduce decision-making times for both functions, when it came down to going after new customers with specific promotional discounts.
And we made sure we had very specific data to prove the reality in percentage terms.
Lastly, don’t get too fancy — make it clean, simple, and succinct.
4. Stop Trying To Sell
But you are a salesperson, right?
Yes, is the answer, but “real” selling is not so much about “selling,” but being able to influence.
Leave the hard-closing, objection-handling to the amateurs — in my forty years experience and having been trained in all of what I now call “sleazy” sales techniques, I was never comfortable learning or applying them.
That’s why I was fired from my early sales jobs and went on to develop my own techniques and methodologies.
I started my sales career by selling home improvements door-to-door and then into the boardrooms of the worlds leading technology companies.
And everything in-between.
If you want to cross the gap between being a salesperson and becoming a key influencer, then read this article.
5. Engage At The Right Level
Here’s the big one…and the most important.
You must engage at the CEO/executive leadership level with all of your clients.
Anything less and you are wasting your time.
Time is the one commodity you cannot get back…unlike money and far too many salespeople are prepared to have endless interactions and discussions with the wrong people.
I’ve seen this countless times in my career and I’ve made the mistake myself.
When you are dealing at the wrong level, you are allowing yourself not only to burn the clock, but you are placing your sales success on people who need to get approval from above to make a buying decision.
You are becoming reliant on the ability of that person to sell your solution to a third-party better than you!
So, get there first.
CEOs Are Human Too
Many people freeze and clam up when I explain to them that they have to talk to the CEO and I have one client right now, who is making the transition but offering a lot of resistance in the process.
He will get there because, in reality, he is scared to do it, because in his words:
“What do I have to offer the CEO?”
Well, it’s the same as you would offer anyone, in terms of your value proposition…but you just have to position it differently and make it appealing.
The CEO of an organization has a great deal of responsibility and the stress that goes with it.
They have to take advice from their leadership team…and external advisors/influencers.
And that is exactly where you come in — read the article I have linked to above, where I talk about becoming a key influencer and I go through the process of how you get to the CEO/executive leadership team…and influence them!
Keep the selling to the B2B world simple and succinct and If you want to talk about B2B sales coaching, then email me:
Last modified: January 27, 2022