Sunday, April 19, 2015

Disrupting the Sales Cycle

Image result for tech disruptionThere is a lot of talk of disruption today, taking old business concepts and shaking up the status quo , by changing the model and re-inventing it. If you are not familiar with the whole disruption movement you check out The Forbes Top 5 technology disruptions from CES.   But there is a school of thought that is showing that disruption is not always the the best way forward, and the current process isn't in need of disruption. Perhaps all we need is just the judicious application of some existing technology and some good old fashioned elbow grease.
Here are some reasons I don't think the Business to Business Sales cycle is in need a of disruption.
The message is simple, B2B sales is, was and should be about bringing value to your client.
  1. I don’t believe that most buyers have a linear process. Just like your sales process isn’t linear, and just like you might go over the same ground a few times, your buyer’s process isn’t a straight line from point A to point B, even if we sometimes illustrate it that way to teach some point. If your buyer does have a linear process, it doesn’t always benefit you, and probably doesn’t benefit them as much as they believe it does.
  2. There is no way to determine how far a complex organization is into their buying process. I don’t believe suggesting that buyers are 50%, 75%, or 90% into their journey matters very much. Note: We do offer the sales projection and pipeline data that all use these percentages as gospel, but not all business are the same and hence using a percentage may not be a great idea. I was told by a customer the other other , we just put a 1 ,2, 3 in the sales projection because the percentages are really not all that real. The general idea that buyers are more informed is a fact. But every company has a different process, and especially when consensus is needed, it’s messy. The number 50% is no better than the 75% number you use in your CRM/sales force automation software to forecast a deal after you make your presentation (ps we all know you don’t win 75% of those deals)/
  3. Except for professional buyers, I don’t believe that most people are spending a lot of time on the Internet researching whatever it is you sell.They’re busy doing their work, and they’re doing so under greater pressure and with fewer resources. If you are professional enough to call and schedule an appointment, it’s likely that they haven’t seen your website.
  4. Buyers don’t need to work very hard to find help buying what they need. You are most likely not lucky enough to work in a market where you have few competitors. It’s more likely you work in a crowded market where a lot of good people and good companies sell what you sell. 
  5. Most business-to-business sales organizations withhold their insights and share information. Buyers can find a lot of information. But go and look at a large business-to-business sales organization’s website and see how well they fare when it comes to sharing their special insight, the insights and ideas that differentiate them from their competitors. You are far more likely to hear your dream client ask you, “What makes you different?” than “I looked at your website and couldn’t believe how different you are from your competitors.”
  6. Most sales organizations that suffer from being understaffed and unable to handle the number of clients beating a path to their door. Almost invariably we see sales organizations that need more opportunities in order to reach their goals. If buyers are doing research, discovering their own needs on their own, developing their own options, and resolving their own concerns, then why aren’t more phones ringing.
If buyers no longer need salespeople, then there is no reason for the popularity of methodologies like the Challenger Sales, insight, business acumen, or situational knowledge. 
Instead, they should be disrupting themselves. Their first step in the buying journey would be recognizing that the status quo isn’t good enough, understanding what new results are already available to them, and searching for potential partners. Perhaps this is sometimes true. But in your experience, how easy is for you to weaken the status quo when you have the knowledge and resources to do so? Do you see the trend shifting are more and more prospects calling on you? 
The Internet is a pipeline and has unlimited potential but it doesn't negate the sales point, by bringing value and becoming the trusted advisor you control and build that sales process. This is not say that data isn’t important or that it isn’t useful.  Rather my point would be using the new tools this technology disruption brings to allow you answer those question , provide those data points to clients and educate them on what others are doing and how the industry is changing. 
As we increasing sell using technology we need to remember that for the most part it's a means to an end and we still need to build on the value that we offer to our prospective clients.

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