8 Reasons Why We Fail to Make the B2B Sale
I mostly write about B2B marketing issues, but am often asked by my clients to consult on issues related to sales performance. One of my key mantras is that you must have your B2B marketing and sales plans and processes fully aligned. It is not unusual to find a circumstance where both the marketing and sales departments are fully optimized individually, yet are not working together in a cohesive and effective manner. A metaphor for this is two very fast runners who can win races on their own, but haven’t learned how to hand off the baton in the relay race.
But let’s suppose the marketing department is doing its job and there is a fast and efficient handoff of a qualified lead to the sales department. What can then prevent the direct rep or sales rep from achieving the sale? Here are some of the key barriers:
- The prospect doesn’t know you and/or trust you. People, whether buying for themselves or on behalf of their companies, like to purchase from a known entity. Moreover, they want to buy from an organization or individual they trust. This is why the first objective of B2B marketing is to increase awareness among your target audience.
- You haven’t sold the value. Even though a prospect knows you, they aren’t going to buy anything until they see the value. In a business environment, this means that the prospect can clearly see that what you offer solves a current challenge or moves their business forward in a positive way.
- The risks outweigh the benefits. The other side of the value scale is the risk factor. You must show the prospect that his risks (in terms of time, money, etc.) are insignificant compared to the great value to be received. And you have to show the prospect that not only the risk to their company but also their personal risk (e.g. loss of face, perception of having made a poor decision, job loss) is minimized. You can do this with a rock-solid guarantee, trial offer, solid references, etc.
- There is a hidden objection. This is a tough factor to overcome because you just don’t know why the sale isn’t happening. It might be a financial issue, lack of authority issue, or something else that is totally outside your control. This is where patience and good listening skills are paramount.
- The quality of your product, promotion, sales pitch or website is poor. This is another area where the sales rep has little control. If your company is smart and committed to success, it will remove any of these obstacles that prevent you from achieving good sales metrics.
- They are loyal to your competitor. Another tough barrier to overcome. My recommendation is that you not take a hard-sell approach with a prospect who is loyal to your competitor. After all, you want the same dedication from your own customers. Rather, you can make your best offer and keep in touch. Take the long view and you might get the future business.
- You neglect to ask for the order. Sometimes, prospects are willing to buy, but are waiting for you to ask them. While I don’t counsel high aggressiveness, the timid end of the spectrum is worse. Ask pleasantly, but definitely ask.
- You fail to follow up. My company, Fusion Marketing Partners, has conducted extensive research on short- and long-term B2B buying patterns. One of the most striking conclusions is that the number of qualified prospects that will buy short-term is matched by an equal number who will buy, either from you or a competitor, downstream. This is why nurturing your prospect database is such a valuable activity.
I hope this information helps you and your company achieve a better level of sales success.