There are two ways to learn a lesson in life… The first way is by learning from your own mistakes, and the second way is by learning from other people's mistakes. This truth is particularly important for B2B sales leaders.
With so much to give to the world, you as a B2B business owner or sales professional need to be on top of your game. However, you don't have all the time in the world to repeat the cycle of making a mistake, learning from it, and then starting all over again.
That being said, it's in your best interest to learn lessons from other people's mistakes, so that you can become a more effective leader in less time!
To help you do just that, we're sharing 10 lessons every B2B sales leader must learn in order to become the most effective version of themself.
If you don't learn the lesson here, you will surely learn it elsewhere. However, we suggest learning here so that you can spend more time applying the lesson to your life as a business leader!
As much as we don't like to admit it... You don't have all the time in the world to become better. Therefore, with limited time on your hands, it's best to learn lessons from other people’s mistakes so that you save time and still become a better leader in the process!
10 Lessons Every B2B Sales Leader Must Learn to Be Successful
Warren Buffet once said... It's good to learn from your mistakes. It's better to learn from other people's mistakes.
Do yourself a favor and do just that by learning these 10 lessons here and now!
Again, if you don't learn them here, you'll inevitably be forced to learn them in the future by making your own mistakes.
Remember... You have all the potential in the world to become an effective business and sales leader, but you don't have all the time in the world.
Therefore, do yourself a favor by learning these 10 lessons here and now, so that you don't have to learn them by making a mistake in the future and giving up unnecessary time!
1. There Are No Problems Except the Ones You Create Yourself
Have you ever heard the saying that goes... Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react?
However, for that to be true, that means that 90% of our problems come as a result of how we react to certain situations, not what happens to us in that situation.
While it might be a hard truth to swallow, understanding that almost all of our so-called problems are self-inflicted is the first step to overcoming them!
Moreover, the truth is that almost all of our problems are created by our reactions to situations, not the situations themselves.
Is It a Problem Or an Opportunity?
Sir Alexander Flemming never would have discovered penicillin had he not made a mistake while experimenting with the influenza virus.
9th century Chinese Alchemists would have never discovered gunpowder had they not made a mistake while trying to develop an eternal life elixir.
Moreover, had Sir Flemming never stepped back and taken a look at the situation at hand or seen it as a failure, countless people could still be dying from treatable bacteria infections these days!
Similarly, had the Chinese Alchemists never stepped back and taken a look at the situation at hand, we could still be fighting with swords these days!
Before immediately labeling an unexpected outcome or situation as a problem, first ask yourself if there is opportunity in it.
Ask yourself if what's going on is a potential pathway to success rather than a dead end. Because, in most cases… it's the former!
Is It a Problem Or a Challenge?
The way that you talk to yourself creates your reality.
For example, if you walk around all day saying life is miserable, it will surely feel miserable. On the other hand, if you walk around all day saying life is abundant, it will surely feel abundant.
That being said, the next time you label a situation as a problem, change your internal dialogue and label the situation as a challenge instead.
Your mind interprets problems as negative. On the other hand, it interprets challenges as positive.
Therefore, if you deem a situation as a positive challenge, it will surely become a positive event in your life.
2. Every Challenge Likely Has a Simple Solution
As much as everyone hates to admit it, we've all undergone at least some kind of mental conditioning.
For example, if you spend a lot of time on social media these days, you might be conditioned to believe that the world is a battle between good versus evil or us versus them. However, that certainly isn't true.
In B2B sales and business in general, perhaps the most common and problematic mental conditioning is that overcoming challenges is difficult or requires a complex solution.
Not only is that mental conditioning contrary to fact, but believing that complexity is the solution to challenges inevitably creates additional unnecessary challenges for B2B salespeople to solve!
Bottom line: Don't fall for any mental conditioning that tries to tell you that challenges are overcome with complex solutions, because the real truth is that challenges are solved with simple solutions.
Complicated Solutions Only Create More Problems
Now, you might be wondering... Why do complicated solutions only create more problems?
Well, think of it like this... Complex problem-solving plans are like breeding grounds for additional problems to arise from. Because, the more unnecessary steps you add to your plans, the more hoops there are for you to jump through, and the more opportunities there are for things to go haywire.
On the other hand, had you decided to approach the challenge with a simple problem-solving methodology, you would have not only solved the challenge, but you would have also eliminated the chances of other problems to arise.
Straight-up: No major challenge was ever solved with a complex solution. In both sales and life, overcoming challenges is a matter of picking simple solutions.
3. B2B Selling Is About Knowing Potential Customers Inside & Out
There's no point in selling a product or service if you don't know who to sell it to!
If you don't know who your ideal customers are inside and out, then how do you expect to get in front of and close deals with them?
At the very least, when putting together your B2B sales strategy, you need to develop a:
- Ideal prospect profile (IPP) for the B2B buyer
- Ideal buyer persona (IBP) for the decision-makers at the ideal company
After developing these two sales tools, you should have a much clearer picture of who your potential customers are and what they are like.
The key to success is being able to put yourself in your potential customer's and see life from their perspective. It's about acting as if you were them in order to understand them.
At the end of the day, you can have the best deliverable on the market, but if you don't know who to market and sell it to, then what are you actually doing?
Knowing B2B Buyers Is About More Than Knowing Their Pain Points
Yes, you do need to know what your ideal customer's tactical pain points are.
However, what's perhaps more important is knowing what their emotional pain points are.
For example, perhaps your prospect has a clear issue with their website’s SEO, but they have an underlying issue of fearing that they will be trampled by their competition.
Uncovering that emotional pain point and addressing it is just as important as delivering the product or service!
Remember, you're not just a product or service provider. Instead, you're a problem solver, and most people's problems go underneath the surface!
Understanding the Decision-Making Process Is Key
Power comes from understanding people. More specifically, power comes from understanding how people make decisions. Because, when you understand how people make decisions, you can frame situations in specific ways to appeal to their psychological decision-making process.
That being said, you need to know how your B2B customers come to make buying decisions. By that, we mean that you need to understand how the top stakeholders, or decision-makers, at the B2B companies come to make purchasing decisions.
When you know how the decision-maker’s minds work, you know where and how to position yourself to appeal to them the most!
4. No Sales Rep Ever Knows Exactly What They’re Doing
Don't think for a second that just because a business owner or salesperson is killing the game that they know exactly what they're doing. Because the truth is, nobody in the game ever knows exactly what they're doing!
The business world (and the world in general) is changing at a pace faster than ever before, therefore businesspeople are constantly having to learn as they go. There is no point where they say to themselves... Okay, now I know it all and can start!
If you wait to get going until you feel absolutely ready or think you know it all, then you'll never even start.
At some point, you're going to have to just go for it, even if you don’t feel that you're at 100%!
And believe it or not, but going into business and sales with a mindset that you don't know it all can actually play to your advantage because you'll be more open to learning during the process!
Start Before You Think You’re Ready
How many people have you heard say things like... ‘I just need to learn this and then I'll start’ OR ‘I'll start when I'm ready’?
If you're like most people, then you hear statements like that a lot, including from some very high-potential people!
But the worst part is that the people who say things like that are usually the ones who never get started...
Learn from other people's mistakes and don't wait until you're ready to get started. Because, again, you will never be ready. There's always more to learn, and you'll never know it all. Therefore, you might as well get going now!
Learn as You Go
It's the people who learn as they go that are usually the most successful.
Because they're like sponges soaking in information during the sales process. As a result, they know their field, and particularly their customers, better than anyone else!
The best business and sales leaders commit themselves to being life-long learners. They know that they'll never know it all, so they stay committed to learning throughout the process to become the best they can be.
5. B2B Customer Relationships Are Your Most Valuable Asset
Are you coming into B2B sales from B2C sales?
If so, then you need to understand that unlike in business-to-consumer sales, long-term business-to-business sales success comes from having strong customer relationships!
Because unlike in B2C sales where you often make a sale and then never see that individual consumer again, B2B sales relationships sometimes last for years at a time! On many occasions, the B2B customer spends a significant amount of time working with the supplier company on a daily basis.
A lot of things, both good and bad, can happen during that time working together… But if the things that happen are mostly good, then you can expect amazing perks including referrals, subjects for case studies, and someone to endlessly advocate for you!
B2B Business Is About Relationships
More specifically, you never know who your current customers know!
That being said, there's a really good chance that one of your current customers knows at least one other potentially qualified lead who you could convert into a customer. In fact, some B2B companies' entire customer base is made up of referrals from other current or former customers.
However, you'll never know who they know unless you form a strong relationship with them!
Be Your Genuine Self to Have Solid Relationships
The key to forming strong customer relationships isn't showing off or being somebody who you aren't. Rather, it's about being your genuine self!
Believe it or not, but most B2B customers want authentic, genuine people helping them solve their problems. Moreover, they simply want to work with likable people.
Therefore, to form solid customer relationships, you just need to be yourself and show off your true personality. Don't be a robot or try to be the person you think they want to work with. Because, the truth is that they want to work with the real you!
6. The Selling Process SHOULD Be Fun
Do you feel like you're dragging yourself through the B2B sales process?
If so, you need to make some changes, because the B2B sales process should be an enjoyable experience for your entire sales team.
Also known as a B2B sales cycle or sales pipeline, the sales process is all the steps that you take to find B2B leads and convert them into paying customers. It begins with lead generation, has a few steps in between including outreach, and ends in a final sales pitch where leads sign their name on the dotted line.
Why is it important for sales teams to enjoy the selling process?
It's important for it to be fun because when the sales reps enjoy the process, so do their customers. On the other hand, if sales reps hate their lives during the selling process, so will their customers... It's as simple as that!
Not only that but who wants to spend the bulk of their time in sales being miserable?
If You’re Not Enjoying It Neither Will B2B Leads
The sales process is the selling experience that sales teams go through. It creates the sales funnel, or buying process, that prospects experience.
You can think of the process as the backend that creates the user-interface funnel.
That being said, if you develop a terrible process, it'll inevitably result in a terrible funnel.
Make your own selling process enjoyable so that leads enjoy the buying process!
Long Sales Cycles Are Bad Sales Cycles
Put yourself in your customers shoes again... Imagine that you've created a longer than necessary sales process with several unnecessary steps that take up more of the prospect's time than needed.
Do you think they're going to be happy having their time wasted when it didn't need to be that way?
In short: Longer sales cycles are worse sales cycles. Never take up more of the prospect's time than necessary, unless you don't want them to like you.
Your prospects are busy people just like you, and they'll respect you for not wasting their time.
When it comes to sales, the shorter and sweeter the process is, the better!
7. Be Assertive or Fail
Do you ever feel like you're out of control in sales? Do you feel like you're at the constant mercy of your prospect's emotions and there's nothing you can do about it?
If so, there's likely a simple solution... You just need to be more assertive!
Assertiveness = power and control over the sale. Assertiveness is your most powerful sales technique in the book.
We will go so far as to say that, unless you are assertive, don't expect to close a deal with any potential customer.
There’s Only One Way to Be In Control
Having an assertive sales approach makes you powerful again! It gives you legitimate control of your destiny.
Because when you are assertive, you drive the sales bus.
On the flip side, if you aren't assertive, then your customer who isn't an expert in your solution will drive the sales bus. And nothing good ever came out of the customer driving the bus!
To be assertive and stay in control, you need to:
- Express yourself like the expert you are
- Tell prospects exactly what they need to hear
- Ask plenty of questions and give prospects room to answer
Assertiveness = control. Either be assertive or get stomped on by potential customers.
8. The Best Investment You Can Make Is In Yourself
Yes, it's a bit of a cheesy, self-help line thrown around a lot these days, but it's true... The best investment you can make as a sales and business leader is in yourself.
To put it simply: When you invest in yourself, you invest in your business, because your business is ultimately a reflection of you!
So when you're investing in your personal success, it's basically like investing in your business’s success.
Top Sales Professionals Are Life-Long Learners
Now you might be asking... What is the best way to invest in yourself?
While there are many positive ways to invest in yourself, the best way is to give yourself education and empowerment.
By education, we mean new knowledge and skills to become a better person.
By empowerment, we mean the tools necessary to apply the new knowledge and skills to everyday life and business scenarios.
When education and empowerment combine, you basically become an unstoppable force because you’re a life-long learner!
Invest In Sales Training to Invest In Yourself
What if there was some kind of personal and sales enablement that both educated and empowered leaders to become more effective versions of themselves?
As it turns out, that's exactly what a top-level B2B sales training program does!
Unlike your basic online, pre-recorded webinar or run-of-the-mill sales book, online sales training focuses on empowering you to apply your specialized knowledge and use it to solve problems.
It's less about equipping you with more pointless information and more about giving you the tools you need to tackle everyday business and sales-related issues, as well as grow a bigger and better business!
9. Sales Success Is About More Than Pleasing Customers
The next time somebody says something to you along the lines of... Sales is 100% about pleasing the customers... just walk away.
Because the truth is that sales is about more than just pleasing other people.
That said, sales and business is about pleasing yourself just as much as your customers.
The truth is that unless you're happy doing what you're doing, you're unlikely to get anywhere!
Think about it like this... When you love what you do, you’re going to:
- Put in the necessary work to become the most effective leader in your field
- Radiate positive energy that will literally infect others and make them feel good
- Have the stamina to overcome any challenge that comes at you
Nobody ever became the best version of themselves while doing something they hated!
Sales Success Is About Pleasing Yourself Too
What's the point of putting yourself through the inevitable challenges that come with being a B2B sales leader if you're going to be miserable the whole time?
Here's the thing: You'll know that you're doing the thing that you're meant to do when just thinking about doing the work lights a positive fire inside of you.
And, no... Not the kind of flame that makes you angry, but the kind of flame that makes you want to become the best version of yourself.
Whatever that thing is that makes you light up inside, you should pursue it! When you pursue that path, you'll certainly help more people, and the more people you can help, the better leader you become.
10. YOU Are the Solution to Your Challenges
There's only one way to overcome your challenges in life... And, that way is you! You're literally the only person who can take your current situation and turn it into one that’s better.
While it might initially spark fear, having complete accountability for yourself in life is empowering. Because, when you accept responsibility for yourself and that you're the only one who can improve your life, you vindicate yourself of being a victim.
No longer are you at the mercy of the world and other people. Instead, you're only at the mercy of YOURSELF.
Bottom line: You are the solution to each and every one of your challenges! Unless you accept that responsibility, then it's nearly impossible to become an effective B2B sales leader.
There Are Two Types of Salespeople In the World…
There are only two types of salespeople in the world:
- Those who face challenges and choose to become worse because of them
- Those who face challenges and choose to become better because of them
Which one are you?
Like we already talked about above, life is 10% about what happens to you and 90% about how you react to what happens.
That being said, will you make your challenges in life work for you? Or, will you allow your challenges to get the best of you?
There are only two ways you can go, so make sure you pick the Bold Way!
Final Thoughts On Lessons B2B Sales Leaders Must Learn to Achieve Success
Business-to-business sales leaders are just like everyone else on earth... They don't have all the time in the world to make an impact.
Therefore, if you're a B2B business owner or sales representative and want to make a serious impact, maximize your time by learning these 10 lessons on leadership now!
If you don't learn them here, you'll have to learn them yourself in the future. And if you do that, you’ll only eat up real time that could be spent on making a greater impact.
The world needs solid business and sales leaders like you. Will you step up to the plate, learn the lessons, and be the kind of leader the world needs?
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