Your perfect day in B2B tech sales
You’ve started a great career in B2B (business-to-business) tech sales. Maybe you’re working from home and connecting with clients all over the world, or you are beginning your day in a sunny office surrounded by inspirational colleagues. There’s a place on the corner with good coffee, and after work you have plans to meet with friends in your B2B network. You have a great product, and have the gift of connecting with clients and customers. What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, a lot of things can go wrong. One day you might miss a sale because you didn’t understand a customer’s buying process. Another day your customer tells you they’ve subscribed to another SAAS (software-as-a-service) provider because their needs have changed. For whatever reason you didn’t see it coming.
Before you blame yourself, remember this: B2B tech sales is more about people than it is about tech. This means that all kinds of things can and will go wrong. The good news is that people have thought hard about the most important challenges in B2B tech sales. And the other good news? Some of these same people have thought about solutions. Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges in B2B tech sales and learn how to overcome them.
Challenge 1: The long sales cycle
When we think about sales, we think about a fast-paced work environment. While this is often true, not every part of the tech sales experience goes fast, and this is certainly the case when it comes to the sales cycle. Unlike B2C (business-to-customer) transactions, B2B sales often involve multiple decision-makers, lengthy approval processes, and intricate procurement procedures. And there’s another factor to consider as well: the larger the sale amount, the longer it will take to make the sale. It’s not quite a law of physics, but it’s up there.
The fact of the matter is that a long sales cycle means you’ll be trying multiple times to reach someone to close. Over time, those attempts that seem to go nowhere can feel like rejection, so it’s important to be aware of the emotional resiliency that’s critical for B2B success.
Strategy: The prospect of a big sale can be seductive, but distracting. Think about how you can create a “time budget” to honestly and accurately take into account the long sales cycle. This way you will be able to shift your focus to smaller and quicker sales which are just as important, and maybe even more so.
Challenge 2: Lack of structure
It’s all too easy to believe that our B2B tech sales processes are data driven, well organized, and effective. In fact, according to many experts the entire B2B sales process is at a “hinge point” where old practices are standing in the way of productivity and growth. The problem is particularly glaring for smaller companies. The truth is that adopting and integrating new technologies can be a challenge for people and organizations, while resistance to change and lack of technological expertise can hinder the effective implementation of new sales tools.
Strategy: First of all, operating on a single channel doesn’t work anymore. There are so many different ways to connect with clients and customers, and maybe you need to get out of your comfort zone and find out where your customers really are. Hybridity is the new normal, so put your client’s online experience first. Get comfortable with data-smart applications that can give you real-time and strategic insights into buyer behaviour.
Challenge 3: Skills and training
Maybe you’ve recently passed through a rapid upskilling B2B program like Palette Skill’s SalesCamp with flying colours. But here’s the thing: one program is not going to give you all the skills you need to keep ahead of the curve. In fact, ideally your training should be telling you where your skills gaps are, and where you need to go to next.
Strategy: To keep ahead of sales dynamics and customer behaviour, you need to embrace a philosophy of lifelong learning. How important is this? Actually crucial. And according to MarketingWeek, up to a third of marketers in B2B are not offered opportunities to build skills and competencies by employers. So approach your boss and your team, and start the conversation about building critical skills for B2B success.
Challenge 4: Changing needs
Customer needs and expectations are constantly evolving, driven by technological advancements, market trends, and industry shifts. You and your sales teams need to be agile and adaptable. Maybe a competitor has launched a software-as-a-service product that you don’t know about, or perhaps a customer’s business reality has changed, so that they don’t see the value of your product like they used to.
Strategy: Stay informed about industry trends and emerging technologies. Regularly assess and update your product or service offerings to align with evolving customer needs. Maintain open lines of communication with customers to gather feedback and proactively address any changing requirements.
Challenge 5: Your customers are educated. Don’t take it personally.
Things are different now. Your customers can get products or services from providers anywhere around the world if they want to. They can spend hours on social media and on websites looking for what appeals to them. They are asking more questions, and taking more time to convert. Why? Like you, they have access to the world. We all need to get used to this together.
Strategy: Take a deep breath. A question from a customer is not an attack, and it may not be directed at you personally, even if it feels like that. Is it calling into question what you are providing, or is it just asking for more information and reassurance? Take some time, and come back to your reply when you are ready.
Upskilling for growth
The best way to keep ahead of major challenges in B2B tech sales is to keep engaged in learning. Whether it’s through a program like SalesCamp from Palette Skills, or through an online B2B forum where you can share insights and learning, your career is a learning investment.
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