B2B Sales Maze.jpgB2B sales cycles are almost always on the spectrum of “lengthy” and “complicated”. This isn’t new news, but despite being completely commonplace, navigating this maze still stumps even expert sales leaders across sectors, industries and leadership methods. How can Sales find a better path?

To get a deeper perspective, we surveyed 50 sales leaders for their input and experiences on complex sales.  

To no surprise, 92% of these sales leaders believe Sales needs a deep understanding the role each buyer plays in the sales process. If you’re in Sales, understanding your buyers’ roles and their needs is core to being able to help address problems. Like thought leader David Brock shares,

“Great salespeople help customers identify problems and opportunities to grow and improve.” 

(He also warns about misusing statistics in this brilliant rant—we couldn’t agree more!)

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But unsurprising turned alarming quickly, as only 30% of the surveyed sales leaders strongly think they’ve achieved that.

And just 24% strongly believe that Sales knows how to go deeper and address the needs, preferences and barriers of individuals and buying groups they’ve identified.  This certainly cries for help! What is preventing sales reps from understanding their buyers’ roles?

Even with most (70%) reps working with 10 or fewer accounts per quarter, only 10% of sales leaders strongly believe that reps can easily identify all the right people who influence a deal.  If you don’t know who is involved in the account, knowing how to address their needs is nearly impossible. Are you going all in, in the dark?

Unfortunately, most of the reps we hire aren’t going to be the superstars that figure it all out on their own. You can’t expect miracles from the majority of sales reps. That’s not manageable or repeatable. Instead, consider adopting the practices that successful sales teams have in common and that top Sales Strategy analysts, from SiriusDecisions to TOPO recommend:

  1. Researched Buyer Personas and meaningful Journey Maps. In-depth Journeys help Sales (and Marketing) to understand which buyers are typically involved and each stage of the buying process. Beyond participation levels, they can also be used to map out the specific needs these buyers must fulfill to move from one stage to another, including what buy-in they need from their key influencers. Journey Map research also can reveal specific activities buyers go through to meet their needs, as well as any preferences they have about how they research and the barriers they encounter internally along the way.
  2. Understanding Buyer Signals helps Sales to put their Journey Map knowledge into action. Data from multiple sources including research activity, email and phone conversations, meetings and activity from colleagues at the same Account help to arm Sales with information about what’s happening in their Target Accounts.
  3. Shared visibility into Accounts and Opportunities leads to better coaching and strong rep-manager meetings. One of the most frustrating parts of any sales rep (and manager’s) job is the act of extracting information only in the sales rep’s mind during one-on-one deal reviews. Resources that help reps identify buyers, understand their needs and make managing opportunities easier position reps and managers to have more time for discussing the strategies and tactics that will increase their likelihood of winning deals.

It’s time to find a clear path in the B2B Sales maze. Uncover your buyers’ needs, understand and plan for how to address those needs and make opportunity management easier.

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