4 fatal B2B sales mistakes to avoid (and 2 may be misplaced)

There is an abundance of advice on what B2B sales reps should -and shouldn’t do. In this article we cover the most common mistakes.

There is an abundance of advice on what B2B sales reps should -and shouldn’t do.

From the Challenger Sales’ “Teach, Tailor, Take control”, to Solution Selling’s “Pain, Power, Vision, Value, Control” dimension, or even old Dale Carnegie’s advice on how to win friends and influence people from the 1930’s.

Understanding what you should be doing, probably isn’t your biggest problem. Developing your organisation to do it, likely is (more on how to fix that here…)

One of the most popular contributions of 2017 on what B2B sales should/shouldn’t be doing, was Marc Wayshak’s article in Entrepreneur (link).

An excellent read for new sales reps, on 6 things you should avoid if you want to be effective in B2B sales.

However, 2 of the 6 points we don’ think belong on that list.

One because we rarely see it as a challenge in reality (actually we see the opposite) and one because we do not agree it is a mistake.

Let’s go through the 6 mistakes, according to the article, with our commentator track.

The 4 mistakes we agree B2B sales reps should avoid making:

1. Selling to low-level buyers: In Solution Selling this is the “Power” dimension, building on the saying “you can sell to a person who can’t buy”. As pointed out by CEB in The Challenger Customer, lower level employees can be great enablers of the buying process but you must get to the ones with budget and authority to win the business (actually it’s about creating a shared buying vision for both enablers and final decision makers). So don´t forget the “low-level” enablers!

2. Highlighting your products features & benefits: Yes, don’t talk about your products and services. Instead talk about the customer, their challenges and vision for the future. It’s the marketing dogma #1, but for sales. Like my old friend and colleague Alex Carabi recently said to me on one of our calls, “you don’t sell products and services, you sell future versions of the company and their people. Your product is just the enabler of the transition”

3. Failing to clarify your value proposition: Yes, work with the customer to clarify your value proposition though the buying process. Start with an assumed value proposition, get actual customer numbers to make it a customer value proposition and use solution test numbers to build the final business case in the proposal. The more you can clarify your value proposition with the customer (lower risk), the higher the likelihood that they’ll invest in your solution.

4. Rushing to offer deals & discounts: Yes, don’t do it. It diminishes the perceived value of your services, potentially hurts trust between you and the client and sets precedence for future potential deals.

The 1 mistake in the article we don’t see out there:

1. Relying solely on the internet or phone to win big deals: We don’t see B2B sales reps, being unwilling to meet with potential customers in person. Actually the opposite. Often we have to help sales reps become better at qualifying a customer before spending resources to meet them in person. Instead help sales reps become better at qualifying potential customers and understand how much can be invested at different stages of the buying process (read more about how to do that here).

The 1 mistake in the article we don’t think is a mistake

1. Giving proposals with only 1 option: No, if don’t put different options in the final proposal for the customer. We are big fans of sales reps presenting and discussing different options with the customer, that can address their identified pains, throughout the buying process. But if you are a true thought leader and trusted advisor within your field, you should have a clear opinion about what the customer should do, and put that in your final proposal. If you have done your sales work right, to understand customer pains, vision and budget in the early stages of their buying process, you should be aligned with the customer on the final solution that is being proposed.

What do you think? What do you see as fatal B2B sales mistakes?

About the author

Martin Nyvang Mariussen
Martin Nyvang Mariussen
Martin has 10+ years of experience as management consultant to commercial B2B leaders with a special focus on commercial strategy, global salesforce development, marketing organization and building inside sales functions.

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