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Why Salespeople Lose B2B Sales

by Doug Davidoff | Nov 11, 2013 2:00:00 PM

lost-saleI remember the days when the ability to overcome objections was what defined a salesperson. I knew going into my final presentation that I’d win the business because I had more ways to get the customer to say yes than the customer had to say no (when you knew 30 “power” closes you could have that confidence).

However, while I closed sales, I also contributed to a lot of the negative equity that exists for the sales profession (ask someone what profession is best suited for a liar and see how many responses you get before someone says “sales”).

Thankfully those days are (almost) over. The changes that have taken place in B2B sales make it impossible to rely on the ability to overcome objections to close business. Today, it’s all about preventing objections.

The truth of the matter is that, in my experience, 80% of the time when a sale is lost it occurs before objections are even raised. While objections used to be a buying sign, today they’re red flags.

The fundamental problem with objections today is that it makes buying difficult. In today’s crazy-busy world, the executives with the authority to make the types of decisions that will positively drive your growth engine simply don’t have the time or attention to deal with the complexity, confusion and back and forth of objections.

They’ve got more important things pulling for their attention, than they have attention to give. So, the moment your process starts feeling burdensome or complex, they simply move to something else; and it ends up being your loss.

It’s always been important to make it easy to buy from you today it is absolutely imperative. Do not misunderstand what I am saying here. Making it easy to buy from you does not mean you cow-tow to their requests or approach. Far from it. You must still challenge, provoke and command the process.

There are three primary reasons that the vast majority of sales people lose sales.

1.  Failure to Have A Clear, Distinct and/or Documented Process

When you encounter a company, you must know:

  • Who you want to talk with,
  • Why it’s important they be involved,
  • The questions you will ask to trace symptoms to problems, and problems to causes, and
  • How long the process will take.

If you’re waiting until you engage a prospect within a company to determine the who, the how and/or the what you’re most likely going to lose. You’ll come across as being complex or difficult.

Additionally, the likelihood that the person you speak with will perceive what you’re doing as a sales trick or insulting (you want to get to the “decision make” and you don’t think I have the power) only increases.

2.  Failure to Build The Business Case Before The Recommendation

I’ve seen it time and time again. A prospect calls and explains their needs. They tell the salesperson that they’ve heard good things, or that their boss told them to call you. Everything sounds great.

So what does the salesperson do? They plow full steam ahead and get to the proposal/recommendation as fast as they can.

The problem is that they failed to assess the situation. To determine the conflicting priorities their prospect had. The challenges in the capital financing structure and so on. The proposal dies a slow, painful death as the salesperson keeps following up, projecting it for next quarter and gets little to no movement.

Sales fail because steps are skipped. Diagnosing issues is a critical step and it needs to be completed if successful sales are going to be predictable and sustainable. You must be clear on your business case, and how that case impacts your customer explicitly before you make a recommendation.

3.  Failure to Focus on The Problem Being Solved

We love our solutions, but unfortunately solutions don’t drive the decision. It’s tough medicine to take, but you need to accept the fact that nobody wants your stuff. Nobody wants to buy anything from you.

Early in my sales career, I had a coach who gave me some great advice. He said, “Doug, everybody wakes up in the morning with the same goal. They don’t want to meet you.”

I’ve never forgotten that advice. Making a sale isn’t about me or my solutions. When I’m talking about my solutions I’m creating no value. Making a sale is all about the customer and their problems. The more I can get my prospect to understand their problem, the more likely it is they will buy from me.

My best sales presentations are 85% about the prospects problem and 15% (at most) about my solution or approach.

When I cover these three bases, I rarely encounter objections. Do I make a sale every time? Of course not, but I gain two critical benefits:

  1. I dramatically increase my win rate (and the predictability of the sale),
  2. I waste far less time on the sales that don’t occur.