Sales is sales, right? In truth, nothing could be further from the truth. Selling in the B2B (business-to-business) marketplace requires fundamentally different skills from what it takes to sell cars, cosmetics or other consumer products. And while you’re still dealing with people, the situation and the context of their decisions are entirely different.
Typically in consumer sales, the seller has one opportunity to get the business. If they let buyers slip through their hands, the likelihood that these people will return at a later date to purchase from them is slim to none. Additionally, because the purchase price of these items is often low, sellers need a whole lot more prospects in their pipeline in order to earn a decent living.
As a result, sales experts who focus on consumer sales tell you to “always be closing” and to “psych yourself up” before each call. They tell you it’s all a numbers game and that every rejection moves you one step close to a yes. They offer you magic sentences, manipulative techniques, and killer closes.
But if you use these “tricks of the trade” when selling to the corporate market, you’ll be laughed at and dismissed as a total lightweight.
Here are the primary reasons that different sales skills are required in B2B sales:
Corporate decisions generally involve significantly more dollars than consumer sales. Initial orders can range from several thousand dollars up into the millions. Long-term contracts may be even larger in scope.
When this much money is exchanging hands, people must ensure that it’s a good use of corporate funds. Hence, they invest considerable time:
- Assessing their current situation relative to their business objectives.
- Determining if a change is necessary.
- Quantifying the value they’d realize from switching.
- Reviewing multiple vendors to find the best “fit”
- Negotiating the best agreement.
- Teaching their people how to use new systems/products.
Making these big decisions also entails risk. At a time when corporations are running lean and mean, people don’t want to make a rash decision that could turn into a nightmare. So they form committees, engaging employees from across the organization who are impacted by the potential change. And the decision process slows down to the speed of molasses.
What does it take to succeed in B2B sales? In my opinion, top B2B sales professionals today are skilled at:
- Scoping out accounts prior to initiating contact.
- Developing a compelling, relevant value proposition.
- Implementing a customer-centric account entry campaign.
- Engaging prospects in business-oriented conversations.
- Continually advance the process to the logical next step.
Their focus is on making a difference, not making a sale. They realize that if they keep their attention on helping corporate decision makers achieve their goals, they’ll come out on top in the long run.
If you want to be successful selling to the corporate market, don’t let those old-style snake oil sales experts tell you what to do. It won’t work. Instead, learn from people who are focused on the B2B sales. They can help!