One step back and two steps forward

What happened in sales in 2014 and how to move on in 2015

This year we’ve seen a lot of the “same old, same old” practices that many sales resources continue to do wrong.

How many of these sound familiar?

  • Waiting for the prospect to call them
  • Beginning presentations talking about their own company (a topic of no interest at all to prospects)
  • Talking about products, services, features etc. rather than the vision or the outcomes that they can create for the customer
  • Blaming marketing for poor leads
  • Spending too much time doing anything but selling (e.g. attending meetings, writing tender responses, checking orders in the system)
  • Relying on building relationships with prospects – when the prospects just don’t have time, and aren’t interested
  • Not realising that how they sell is at least as important as what they sell
  • Not liaising with the decision maker and all of the buying influences.

Some key B2B sales facts

In this vein, we were interested to see the following statistics reported out of the Corporate Executive Board’s recent sales & marketing conference (with thanks to Tom Pisello for rounding these up):

  • 94% of prospects discontinue contact with a vendor because they received irrelevant promotions and messages (Blue Research)
  • 71% of business executives get “turned off” a company when content is more like a sales pitch than valuable information – yet 93% of marketers continue to tie their content directly to products and services (The Economist)
  • The average B2B deal now has 5.4 decision makers (CEB)
  • 53% of buyers indicate customer experience in the sales process is more important than brand, product, service and price – “Today brand, product, service and price are table stakes.” (CEB)
  • 58% of buyers disengage because sales reps are not able to help them solve business challenges or articulate the value of proposed solutions (Qvidian)
  • In 2 years time 90% of B2B companies expect to compete almost entirely on the basis of the buying experience, up from 36% 2 years ago (Gartner)

Looking forward to 2015

Despite this grim news, we’ve seen the emergence of some key trends this year and some successful practices including:

  • Realising we don’t sell how buyers buy leading us to align our sales and marketing efforts with the new buyers’ journey
  • Disruptive insight selling – teaching customers better ways of running their business and shattering their status quo to start them on new buying journeys
  • Realising we shouldn’t differentiate “social selling” from “normal selling”, that in fact it’s all selling, albeit in a social world
  • Good progress in aligning sales and marketing along the new buyer’s journey
  • Increasing realisation of the importance of coaching as the #1 sales management skill.

Join us over the coming weeks as we discuss the trends we’ve seen, talk about implementation best practices and predict what the “Salesperson of 2015” will look like.