What if I told you that one of the most commonly used B2B sales techniques is one of the most common reasons why sales teams consistently fail to close deals? On top of that, I bet that you’re currently a religious user of this technique!
Don’t believe it? Well then, brace yourself.
We’re sharing the single B2B sales technique that consistently and directly causes what could be easily closed sales deals to fail!
This technique is one of the most common culprits of:
- Prospect ghosting;
- Exceedingly long selling cycles; and
- Flat out ‘No’s’ from even your most qualified leads.
It’s like I always say: Just because everybody else is doing something doesn’t mean that it’s right, effective, or beneficial in any way!
Bottom line: If you want to start spinning your wheels and actually getting somewhere, then freeing yourself of this single technique is an absolute MUST.
How to Improve B2B Sales With the Right Selling Techniques
Before going any further, what's the use of B2B selling techniques anyway?
Sales techniques are one of many sales tools that enhance the way in which you sell.
For example, painters use specific painting techniques to create a certain feeling in their artwork and enhance the message that they’re trying to send through the painting.
Similarly, salespeople use sales techniques to create a certain feeling in their prospects and enhance the message that they’re trying to send during the sales cycle. By creating a specific feeling, prospects are more inclined to make a purchasing decision.
Believe it or not, how you sell is just as important, if not more important, than what you say during the sales process or what you’re selling altogether!
Because, B2B buyers are more likely to remember how you make them feel versus what you say, and impacting the way that they feel comes down to the sales techniques that you’re using!
Using the right techniques in the right way refines your entire sales approach for the better! Ultimately, you’ll make your prospects feel great which paves the way to a closed deal.
Why Most Sales Techniques Are Ineffective
The hard truth is that most selling techniques are simply ineffective. They’re ineffective because they don’t invoke the kinds of feelings in prospects that need to be invoked in order for the sale to go through.
That said, the 1 selling technique that I’m talking about today isn’t the only one that regularly crushes sales deals by not invoking the right feelings.
Therefore, before pulling out all the other techniques in your sales toolbox, take a step back and reconsider them altogether. As much as you might think that they’re helping you close more deals, they might actually be leading you in the opposite direction.
What Actually Makes a Sales Technique Effective?
Now, let's get a little more specific. As I mentioned above, most selling techniques are ineffective because they don’t invoke the kinds of feelings in prospects that need to be invoked for the sale to go through.
To go even deeper than that, most selling techniques don’t just not invoke the right feelings in prospects, but they invoke all the wrong feelings!
What kinds of wrong feelings am I talking about? Specifically, I’m talking about:
- Feeling like they’re being taken advantage of; and
- Feeling like you really don’t care about them and their success.
In short- If your selling techniques invoke these kinds of feelings (which they probably do), then what makes you think that prospects will pursue the deal?
On the flip side, effective sales techniques are the ones that invoke the most positive feelings in prospects! By the most positive feelings, we mean:
- Like they’re being taken care of; and
If you can invoke these feelings in prospects through your techniques, then consider it a done deal.
That said, the one sales technique that I’m sharing today invokes none of these positive feelings in prospects. Rather, it invokes all the negative.
Here’s the 1 B2B Sales Technique That Always Uproots Sales Deals!
The single worst-selling technique which is also one of the most commonly used by sales teams is sending out free initial proposals to potential B2B customers during the early stages of the B2B sales cycle!
Forget about what you read about in books or see other sales reps doing... Handing out free initial proposals like they’re candy is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.
Because believe it or not, handing out free proposals like they’re virtually worthless invokes all the wrong negative feelings in prospects!
Think about it! When you hand out a free proposal, you’re basically leaving the prospect out on their own to fend for themself.
Instead of guiding them through the buying process, you’re leaving them to fend for themselves. When they fend for themselves, they’re likely to feel:
- More afraid of making a specific purchasing decision;
- Like you’re simply throwing them a bone without walking them through the process; and
- Like you’re not even bothering to take the time to get to know them.
Considering how much love, care, and effort you put into developing proposals, this might come as a bit of a shock to you.
If you’re currently thinking to yourself, “There’s no way I can close a deal without sending a proposal!" then take a step back and ask yourself why you’re consistently being ghosted by and getting flat-out ‘no’s’ from prospects despite going above and beyond to create proposals for them.
Deny it all you want, but if you keep handing out free proposals like they’re candy to your ideal customers and think you’ll get anywhere, then think again!
Why Free Initial Proposals Are a Recipe for Disaster
Now, let’s take things a step further by diving deeper into the way that handing out free proposals does the opposite of enhancing the selling process.
Like I said, while you might feel like you’re being nice by handing out proposals, they only invoke negative feelings in prospects which drives them away from the deal.
Furthermore, here’s a deeper dive into why free proposals are the single worst B2B sales technique in the sales toolbox, plus what you can do instead of handing out free proposals to start gaining major sales traction.
1. Your Anxiety Goes Through the Roof
How often does this happen to you: You do your initial round of outreach and a prospect immediately responds with a “Send us your proposal, and we’ll get back to you.” You’re elated to say the least! After putting hours of work into the proposal and sending it into the abyss, weeks go by without a response. Meanwhile, your anxiety is going through the roof. In the end, the prospect never even gets back to you, so all that anxiety was for nothing.
While you might try to bottle up that anxiety and frustration so that others don’t see it, it’ll prove nearly impossible. Eventually, your team members, current customers, and potential customers will start to pick up on that bad energy and it’ll drive them away.
Don’t set yourself up for inevitable anxiety and frustration that’ll only make you a less effective sales pro.
Be the Expert Who Prospects Need
Take a moment to put yourself in your prospects' shoes: Who would you prefer to help you overcome your pain point: somebody who seems visibly frustrated and anxious, or somebody who comes across as a confident expert?
Of course, you’d rather work with a confident expert!
Now, do you think that bringing anxiety and frustration into the selling process thanks to putting up with free proposals puts you in the league of experts? Definitely not!
Coming across as the expert who you are is at the core of every effective B2B sales strategy. Don’t let a terrible selling technique like sending out free proposals uproot the expert status that you’re trying to achieve.
2. It Elongates the B2B Sales Process
Do you like having your time wasted? Probably not. Do you think that your prospects like having their time wasted? Hopefully not!
Here’s the thing: Nobody likes having their time wasted, yet sending free initial proposals out into the abyss is nothing but a time-waster for both you and your prospects.
Rather than getting straight to the point in order to keep the selling and buying processes moving along, sending out proposals does the exact opposite.
The more time that gets wasted, the more likely prospects are to ghost you or hit you with a flat-out “No.”
You Lose Control of the Selling Process
The moment you send out a free proposal is the moment you lose total control of the selling process. Rather than you being in control, the prospect gets all the control!
Nothing good ever happens when the prospect is in control; the moment you send out a proposal is the moment that the ball goes into their court! Suddenly, you’re at their mercy and working on their watch.
While you might be thinking to yourself, “But don’t prospects like being in control of the sale?” The hard truth is that prospects want YOU to be in control, because when you’re in control their life gets easier!
Closing a business-to-business sales deal is a matter of you staying in control of the selling process, and no B2B company ever stayed in control with the help of a proposal.
Not only does sending out free proposals elongate the sales process, but it also makes it more complex.
Instead of you being in control of the process to keep it short and sweet, you’re suddenly sending countless messages back and forth with prospects. With so many messages flying around, what could have been a simple selling process turns into you jumping through hoops.
Not only are short processes the best, but so are simple ones. Avoid unnecessary complexity by simply stopping handing out free proposals.
3. Damaging Customer Relationships
Every top sales professional knows that solid, long-term customer relationships are the strongest business asset a sales pro can have. Therefore, they do everything possible to enhance their relationships.
Most importantly, they know that sending out free initial proposals is the last thing they should do to enhance the relationship, because proposals make customers feel as if they’re:
- Being left out on their own;
- Not being understood; and
- Simply there for you to make a quota.
Fostering solid relationships with potential and current customers is crucial to not just sales success but overall business success! Instead of crushing relationship potential with pointless free proposals, simply stop sending them out for good.
Customer Relationships Are Business Assets
Before going any further, why are solid, long-term customer relationships considered assets?
B2B customer relationships are assets because they act as a sales insurance for your business: Whenever you’re having a hard time filling your sales pipeline with new leads, you can fall back on existing customers to:
- Help create strong marketing material, such as case studies;
- Renew contracts or buy updated versions of your deliverable in the future; and
- Give you referrals for high-quality leads.
Most importantly, you have no idea who your current customers know! And, there’s a good chance that they know other people who would gladly purchase your deliverable or give you sound advice.
While running a business is always a risk, you can insure yourself by fostering strong customer relationships.
The Selling Process Is About Understanding Potential Customers
Here’s something that’s extremely obvious yet most B2B salespeople regularly forget: The selling process is about understanding your potential customers!
It’s about understanding the depth of their pain point, and how you and your sales team can come in and guide them towards a better future.
However, handing out proposals has nothing to do with a better understanding of customers. Instead, handing out proposals puts the spotlight on you and your deliverable.
Rather than spending time asking questions and getting to know prospects, you make the selling process all about yourself. What about that makes you think that prospects will want to establish a relationship with you?
In the end, all this does is turn the potential customer off from making a buying decision, because they want to have the opportunity to talk about themselves instead of only hearing about you.
A recent survey revealed that 76% of B2B buyers say that there is a lack of customization and personalization in their buying experiences.
Isn’t that a little ironic when you consider the fact that the supposed purpose of an initial proposal is to curate a personalized blueprint for potential customers?
What this irony reveals is that proposals actually alienate prospects and make them feel more like numbers on a list rather than individuals getting personalized attention.
And it makes sense! When you have countless vendors sending you proposals on a regular basis, they completely lose their value.
That said, curating a personalized buyer’s journey for the sake of fostering a customer relationship has nothing to do with proposals.
4. High Opportunity Costs
Whenever you say yes to one thing, you say no to another thing. When it comes to proposals, most salespeople forget about this.
Rather than taking a step back to assess what could be more effective than a proposal, they keep on keeping on without ever realizing the opportunity costs of doing so.
There is an EXTREMELY high opportunity cost to sending out free proposals. Whenever you say yes to a proposal, you’re inevitably wasting (a lot of) time that could be spent on more effective sales techniques, including:
- Properly qualifying leads;
- Having in-depth conversations with leads about their pain points; and
- Adding more value to the customer’s buying process.
Furthermore, there are plenty of other selling techniques that take less time to execute and are significantly more potent than proposals!
Focus on Quality Over Quantity
How long does it take you to put together an average proposal? A few hours? One day? How about several days?
Most salespeople pour their heart and soul into proposals yet rarely get anything in return.
Perhaps the best way they can use their time during sales lead generation instead of creating proposals is by drawing out and qualifying their ideal target customers.
More specifically, drawing out an ideal prospect profile (IPP) for target B2B companies along with an ideal buyer persona (IBP) for the decision-makers at those target companies.
One major mistake that sales reps make in conjunction with sending out free proposals is focusing on siphoning as many leads as they can into their sales pipeline without properly qualifying them or checking to see if they match their IPP and IBP.
They do this because vetting potential leads requires a fair amount of energy, and having to put in that energy on top of creating proposals is simply too much to handle.
As a result, they end up with tons of unqualified leads in their pipeline who will simply throw their proposal in the garbage.
From now on, instead of sending out proposals to as many prospects as possible, spend more time properly vetting leads. In the end, you’ll have much more success focusing on only a few high-quality leads versus a huge quantity.
5. You Lose Your Unique Value
Here’s the thing: Just about every B2B company sends out free proposals to potential customers, including your competitors. In a way, proposals are seen as a must rather than an optional selling technique.
That said, why would you want to use the same techniques as that of your competition?
Don’t you want to stand out from your competitors rather than blend into the weeds? Don’t you think that your prospects want to feel as if they’re working with irreplaceable experts rather than replaceable vendors? Hopefully you do, because it’s the truth!
The hard truth is that it doesn’t matter how special your unique value proposition is if you’re using the exact same techniques as competitors. At the end of the day, you’ll only blend in with them.
Take Time to Show Off Your Genuine Personality
Instead of blending into the weeds with your competition, what you should be doing is making moves to separate yourself from the pack.
While there are many techniques you can use to separate yourself, one of the most effective is simply showing off your unique personality throughout the selling process!
Rather than conforming into being the salesperson who you think you need to be, what you really need to do is just be yourself. Prospects want to get to know the real you, not the fake, robotic version of yourself.
Whenever you try to conform to the person you think you need to be, it ends up leaving a sour taste in the prospect’s mouth. They’ll sense that fake energy and wanting to work with you is the last thing they’ll want to do. Not only that, but they’ll get the sense that you’re just another run-of-the-mill sales rep who wants to take their resources and leave.
Even though it almost seems too simple to be effective, playing to your genuine personality will take you farther than any sales proposal ever will.
Final Thoughts on the 1 B2B Selling Technique That Crushes Deals
While it might have come as a surprise to you, we bet that you’re elated to know that free initial proposals are nothing but a waste of time and energy! Why? Because every logical salesperson instinctually despises giving away free value for no guaranteed return.
Furthermore, if you want to start closing more deals in less time, then simply stop handing out free initial proposals like they’re candy. Sure, every other B2B sales team might be doing it, but most sales teams don’t achieve their sales goals. If they do, it isn’t without forming a massive headache in the process.
Kicking proposals to the curb is a straight-shot to closing more deals in less time while developing significantly fewer headaches in the process.
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