Are they ordering widgets out of a catalog, or can you show them a burning need for change? (Credit Jim Larrison)
B2B is where one company tries to a product, service, software, or system to a different company. Equipment vendors, consultants, and software developers will all want to check out this article I found. The End of Solution Sales, in the 2012 July/August issue of Harvard Business Review.
I will try to summarize briefly. The authors basically argue that the old way of making B2B sales is inefficient, and that their research suggests a new style called “insight selling” that the top 10% of salespeople are using.
The “old style” of sales is basically:
- First find prospect companies to sell to. The best organizations are large/moneyed, have a clear vision or business plan, have identified problems that are related to your company’s area of business, and have a stable procurement process so they are used to purchases and contracts
- Find contacts in the client company who are accessible, talkative, honest, good listeners and speakers, and stand to benefit personally if your sale succeeds
- Talk to them about their problems, and fish for places where you can “hook” your services or solutions into their problems
- Once you’ve got an area you can help solve their problem, win over your contact, and then help them make the sale. Ask questions and try to find out about the client’s procurement practices, then help your contact steer your solution through the process. (By giving them info to answers questions, showing up to meetings, meeting the various people who need to sign off on it, etc.)
This is certainly not bad advice and with the right personalities makes for a decent sales force. The problem is that with the proliferation of easier information (Internet) and globalization, customers are savvier than ever. Instead of having a problem and needing a salesperson to come riding in with a solution, established customers probably have a solution clearly in mind and have researched 3-5 firms that can do it. You end up coming into a “request for proposal” (RFP) situation, where the client basically has a contract already in mind and is asking you to bid against your rivals. Now you’re fighting price wars to win small, pre-defined slices of work.
Instead, the article proposes insight selling, where you: Continue reading