Long-Term B2B Sales Success 101 | How to Win the Marathon
The hard truth about B2B sales and business is that it's a marathon, not a sprint.
Yet, most B2B sales professionals act like it's a sprint, then subsequently crash and burn without ever understanding what went wrong.
That being said, if you're serious about achieving your goals and bringing your biggest business visions to life, then you need to shift your perspective on sales from the short term to the long term.
To help you do just that, we're sharing a 5-step guide to winning the sales marathon. And not only that, but we're sharing simple sales techniques and tactics that you can start working on today to get in shape for the marathon.
The best part... You'll quickly realize that, while it might sound challenging at first, going the long-term route to success is simpler than going the short-term route.
Short-term thinking leads to long-term disaster!
Start here to get yourself in good shape to run the marathon. Don't be like other salespeople who crash and burn after short-lived success... Here’s your guide to avoiding just that!
How Does B2B Sales Work?
Straight-up: B2B sales works like a long-haul game.
If you're coming from a B2C sales background, this can come as a bit of a shock.
Unlike business-to-consumer sales in which you might spend minutes closing deals on customers, closing deals in business-to-business sales takes a more extensive process.
And not only is it an extensive selling process, but you need to pay just as much attention to the customer after the deal is signed as you do before it is signed.
That being said... Thinking of B2B sales as anything other than a marathon is the wrong way to think about it! And, as you already know, the way that you think about a situation ultimately determines your performance in that situation.
So if you're thinking of sales as a short-term game, then expect the rug to be pulled out from underneath you!
Business-to-business sales works like a long-haul game. You might score some points in the beginning by choosing to work it like a short-term game, but making those short-term gains isn't worth it in the end.
5 Steps to Achieve Solid Long-Term Business-to-Business Sales Results
For those who want to win the business marathon… follow this 5-step guide to achieving long-term B2B sales success.
The truth is that anyone can play the short-term game in sales... However, the short-term game almost always ends in disaster.
That being said, if you're serious about sales success, then consider this guide your most important sales tool!
Here's how you can simply achieve solid and sustainable long term sales results, and win the business marathon.
Believe In the Value You Bring to the Table
Do you know why the entire sales industry tends to have a bad reputation?
To put it simply: It's because so many people are used to dealing with the overbearing, used-car-sales rep type of salesperson every time they need to make a purchasing decision. As a result, potential customers not only don't enjoy the buying process, but they don't trust the value of sales reps and their deliverables.
Unfortunately though, dealing with customers who don’t believe in your value is counterproductive to achieving long-term sales success.
Simply because, in order to keep customers sticking around for the long haul, they absolutely must believe that you and your deliverable are valuable, and will certainly help them solve their pain point.
That being said, the first step to securing solid, long-term sales results is to believe in the value that you bring to the table so that your customers will believe in it too.
Unless you believe that you and your deliverable are worth their investment, they won’t believe it either. It’s like the saying, ‘If you aren’t confident in yourself, then nobody else will be confident in you’.
Know Your Deliverable Inside and Out
Now, you might be wondering, 'How do I show potential buyers that I’m confident in my product or service?'.
The way that you show confidence in what you're selling is to study it inside and out. Because, the more you study it, the more you understand it, and the more you understand it, the more confident you are in its ability to solve customer needs.
The more confident you are in your deliverable to solve customer needs, the more confident your potential buyers will inevitably be in the deliverable to solve their problems.
Moreover… Your confidence is infectious! If you have confidence in your product or service, then so will your customers.
Know Yourself Inside and Out
Here's a question for you: What are your personal strengths and weaknesses? More specifically, what are the most and least valuable parts of your persona?
When you understand yourself inside and out, you know which strengths to play off of and which weaknesses to work on. By understanding your persona, you'll feel more confident in yourself to be a killer salesperson.
The confidence you have in yourself will inevitably show to your potential buyers, and they'll resultantly feel more confident in you.
The more you know yourself, the more effective you are at securing long-term sales success.
Put Yourself In Your B2B Customer's Shoes
The last step to believing in the value you bring to the table is to put yourself in your B2B customer's shoes. More specifically, putting yourself in their shoes and asking yourself, 'If I was my customer, would I buy what I'm offering them now?'.
If your answer is 'no', then you need to consider whether what you are doing now is moral or not.
At the end of the day, if you wouldn't make a buying decision in your favor yourself, then what are you really doing? Are you helping anyone, or are you just there to grab their investment and leave?
If you wouldn't buy your deliverable yourself, then you've sunk to the level of used-car-sales rep and it'll be nearly impossible to break out of the box to secure long-term success.
Bottom line: If you wouldn't buy your product or service yourself, then you need to reconsider your role as a B2B salesperson.
B2B Selling Comes Down to Relationships
If there’s one thing you take away from this article, let it be this: Long-term B2B sales success is contingent on your ability to form strong relationships with B2B companies.
At the end of the day, strong customer relationships are the plug for long-term success for three key reasons, including:
First off, the single-best way to find highly qualified leads is to get them via referrals from your current customer base. When you have a great relationship with a customer, generating excellent B2B leads can be as simple as asking them for referrals!
Second, the stronger the relationship, the greater the odds that the customer sticks around and purchases from you again. Whether it be renewing services or purchasing a new version of your product, you want your customer base to stay loyal to you.
Finally and most importantly, showing that you're capable of fostering great customer relationships gives you a great reputation. In the end, you can have a great product or service, but if you're terrible at fostering relationships, you'll create a terrible reputation for yourself.
Remember, if you want success in the long-run, then your central focus should be creating and fostering great relationships with potential and current customers.
Here's how to do just that:
Form a Friendship
The best way to form great customer relationships? Just be a genuine, caring person.
Far too many salespeople feel like they need to put on a show for customers. As a result, it comes off as disingenuous to customers, and the last thing they want to do is form a relationship with you.
That being said, the way to come off as a genuine person and win the relationship is to approach business relationships like you do friendships. Because in the end, business relationships are built on many of the same qualities as every-day friendships, including:
From now on, think of your customers as friends to win them over.
Get Tight With the Decision-Makers
A supplier-customer relationship is really about two entire companies coming together. It's not about a single sales professional and an individual consumer talking on the phone once in a while.
Instead, it's about multiple touchpoints of contact between the B2B buyer and supplier companies, with both sides working together to help one another achieve their goals.
However, the most important touchpoint you can have with the buyer company is that with the top stakeholders. The top stakeholders are the ones who have the decision-making authority at the company.
Make it a point to form a strong relationship with these decision-makers! The stronger the relationship you have with them, the simpler it is to retain the relationship.
Assertive Without Overkill
There's no doubt about it: You need to have an assertive sales approach to win long-term results.
However, there is a point at which your assertiveness can drive away customers and prevent a relationship from forming. And, that point is that at which your assertiveness turns into forcefulness.
Think of it like this... If you have a valuable deliverable that you know will help solve a customer’s problems, then there is no need to force it on them. Rather, you just need to assert the fact that you know you have what they need to be better.
It's like when someone comes to your house and you offer them something delicious to eat... There's no need to force it on them because you know it's what they need!
Furthermore, assert the fact that you know you've got what the customer needs without forcing yourself on them, otherwise you risk hurting the potential relationship.
Remember... If you've got what they need, then you just need to assert the fact that you have the solution to satisfy them. If you know that your solution is right, then there’s no need to force it!
Simplify the B2B Sales Process
One of the most common ways that sales representatives shoot themselves in the foot is by developing overcomplicated B2B sales strategies and processes.
In fact, complexity is often the root of long-term sales downfall for two key reasons, including:
- It damages customer relationships
- It creates endless, unnecessary hurdles on your path to success
First off, by developing unnecessarily complex processes, you inevitably make your potential buyer's buying process more complex. And, whenever a buying process is more complex than necessary, it damages the supplier-buyer relationship.
Second and most importantly, complex sales processes create hurdles on your path to success. The more hurdles there are, the harder it is for you to reach your sales goals.
If you want long-term sales success, then don't make sales any harder than it needs to be! Scale back and make things simpler if you want better results.
Complex Sales Processes Damage Customer Relationships
Complex sales processes lay the foundation for complex sales funnels that potential customers experience. And when it comes to the sales funnel, the last thing that customers want it to be is unnecessarily long and difficult.
It's simple: Your potential customers probably have filled up calendars and to-do lists, just like you. Therefore, if you hop into their life and make the selling process significantly more complex than it needs to be, you inevitably take up more time in their calendar than necessary. Once they realize that you’re wasting their time, they’ll likely want out of the relationship.
If there's one way to easily break a customer relationship, it's by wasting the customer's time! Therefore, keep things short and sweet to ensure customer satisfaction.
Complexity Creates Hurdles
Believe it or not, but many sales pros make achieving long-term sales success much more difficult than it needs to be.
The way they do that is by overcomplicating the heck out of their sales processes because they believe that complexity will help them achieve their long-run sales goals sooner.
However, that couldn't be further from the truth!
The real truth is that complex sales strategies and processes and additional challenges to your path to success on top of the already inevitable ones.
Think of it like this: Let's say that you are a skier at the top of a mountain and want to get to the bottom as fast as possible. There are two pathways you can go down... The first one being a steep incline with many jumps and mounds, while the second one is not-so-steep and a straight-shot down the hill.
Now, if you want to get to the bottom as fast as possible and with lower odds of falling down, wouldn't you choose the simpler pathway? Of course.
Similarly, if you want to achieve a sales goal in less time, you would create the easiest pathway for yourself!
Sales comes with inevitable challenges. Therefore, you shouldn't make it any more challenging than it already is by developing complex strategies and processes.
Help B2B Customers Uncover Their Own Potential
We've said it many times before and we will say it again: Every potential buyer makes purchasing decisions based on their emotions, not their logic.
Therefore, in order to always keep the sales fire burning, your job is to hype up a prospect's positive emotions during sales pitches, and then lay the deal on the line when their emotions are at their highest. By doing so, you almost guarantee yourself a signature on the dotted line.
The best way to hype up positive emotions...? Make the prospect feel like you see them as having great potential and that what they're doing is important.
Think of it like this: If one of your prospects runs a social media marketing company and you're there to sell a software to them... Instead of using all of your sales meetings to talk about the specs of your software, talk about how you see the potential of the prospect company to make a major impact on the world of social media marketing. Make them feel special and appreciated for the work that they’re doing!
Whether we want to admit it or not, every single one of us wants to feel validated in life. And, perhaps there is no better way to validate someone than to tell them that you see them as capable of making a major, positive impact on the world.
Of all the sales skills in the world, lead generation, cold calling, and email outreach are all important, but the best skill to have is knowing how to use a prospect's emotions to your advantage!
Hone In On Their Vision
Here's the thing: The purpose of selling a product or service is to help your customers solve one of their pain points. Or... Is that the purpose of selling?
Yes, your deliverable must solve a surface level customer need, but more than that, it must help the B2B buyer company get closer to bringing their special vision to life.
Every company in the world is created to help turn a vision into reality, so you must play on that fact by portraying your product or service as something that'll bring them closer to doing just that.
As a result, you'll create the kind of positive hype in prospects that makes them feel like you understand them and the impact they're trying to make.
Ask More Questions
The more talking you and your sales team do during the B2B sales cycle, the less likely you are to help the prospect discover their own potential.
Instead of doing all the talking, the best thing you can do is sit back, ask questions, and let the prospect word vomit anything and everything possible.
By doing so, you get deeper into the prospect's vision and come to understand their deep emotional desires. Because, let's face it... Sales is also largely about emotional fulfillment!
Do yourself a favor… Instead of putting in the effort that it takes to talk, let your prospects do all the talking! In the end, they’ll like you better for it and you’ll get a better idea of what it takes to turn their vision into reality.
Be Accountable For Your Promises
Yes... Believing in your value, fostering relationships, sticking to simplicity, and helping buyers discover their potential are all important factors for long-term success, but none of them matter if you don't deliver on your promises.
By delivering on promises, we mean that you need to create the kind of positive changes in your B2B buyer company that you told them you could create when the deal was signed.
Never forget that B2B sales isn't a matter of closing a deal and then never seeing the customer again. The truth is that once the deal is signed, you still need to deliver your product or service. And, your delivery performance is equally as important, if not more important, than closing the deal itself.
However, one way to instantly ruin your delivery performance is to not live up to the hype you promised them. By not living up to the hype, customer's won't respect you and they'll be running for the nearest possible door they can find.
Moreover, not being accountable for promises is a recipe for long-term sales disaster.
The most effective sales reps are the ones who say something and then deliver. You need to be that effective salesperson if you want to win the business marathon!
Bottom Line: Do the Work
One way to get customers to instantly lose respect for you is to say one thing and do another, or say that you're going to do something and never do it.
The only way to successfully run the sales marathon is to be accountable for your words!
To put it simply, sales is about service: If you were selling food in an Italian restaurant and you promised your customers that you would bring them the food they ordered but then bring them something else in an untimely fashion, would you expect them to pay you, come back again, and put in a good word for you...? Of course not.
From now on, think of yourself just as you would if you were a server in a restaurant... You need to deliver:
- What you said you would deliver
- How you said you would deliver it
- When you said you would deliver it by
Additionally, always keep tabs on what you say so that you're not making any promises you can't keep!
Whenever making a sales pitch, don't feel the urge to lie or make an empty promise to customers just for the sake of getting them to sign with you. In the end, your empty promises will come back to bite you.
Always (always) be accountable for your words, unless you want to lose respect and slash your odds of achieving long-term, sustainable sales success!
Final Thoughts On Long-Term B2B Sales Success
With anything in life, going the short-term route is easy at first. Unfortunately though, it almost always ends in a quick disaster.
You can simply avoid that crash and burn by choosing to follow the long-term path. And, that's exactly what this guide is meant for.
Remember, short-term thinking leads to long-term disaster. Moreover, disaster is a choice!
So, will you choose to follow the long-term path to avoid disaster and live up to your full potential? It's a simple matter of choice.
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