What’s Changed in B2B Sales

There are a number of popular concepts that can be rolled up into an idea that is more descriptive of the skills and abilities needed to succeed in B2B sales today. One of those concepts is the Challenger sale, the idea that success depends on being able to teach, tailor, and take control of the conversation. Another favorite is the idea of insight-based selling, in which one knows enough to provide advice and counsel due to their unique insights.

For a long time, I have used a lot of different ideas to try to convey what differentiates those who succeed from those who struggle, including business acumen, situational knowledge, chops (everyone’s favorite), trusted advisor, good counsel, peer, and strategic partner. I’ve also referred to what I call Level 4 Value Creation ™, the idea that one is both super-relational and strategic.

As I have been reading and recording the audio book for Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customer Away From Your Competition, I notice how much of the modern approaches to sales are built on change. I am not sure how many times I use the word in the book, but the frequency is significant—even for a book on competitive displacements.

Why Change

When salespeople are at their best, they help their clients change their view of what’s possible. When you think of anyone who has made a difference in your life helped you see you could do better. We sometimes we help them change how they see their business, their strategy, and their future results.

How to Change

We also help people change how they do things. We help them change in the areas our solutions touch, including their operations, their sales and marketing, their financial operations, and their customer service. While we talk a lot about “why change,” a good part of our ability is around the “how?”

Changing Minds

In one of the most difficult outcomes we often have to achieve, we change people’s minds. We change their minds about who they should select as a partner, changing their preference to us from our competitor. Equally difficult and little considered, we change what should be their top priorities, creating a compelling reason to make the change we recommend in front of other competing priorities.

The ability to help people change has always been something the best salespeople have possessed in amounts greater than average (which is why many great leaders are salespeople). But what all the modern approaches have in common is they all express that what is required to help people change has changed—and dramatically—over the last decade.

If you want to help people change, practice what you preach and go first.

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