Follow this link for ideas about how you win big deals in B2B sales. Read on to learn how you might lose big deals you might have won had you approached it differently.
Transact Instead of Consult
If what you sell is not complex, meaning it is a decision your contacts make frequently and making a mistake isn’t costly, then, by all means, transact. A transactional sale needs a transactional sales process. When a big deal in B2B sales is complex, then treating it as if it isn’t will severely limit your chances of winning.
When your dream client doesn’t make the decision you are asking them to make frequently enough to understand it, they need more time and more conversation. Your contact’s attempt to deepen their understanding is necessary so they can avoid negative consequences from choosing poorly.
To avoid losing a large contract, slow down, give your client time, and help them understand their choices, the trade-offs they make, and help them deepen their understanding—and their confidence.
There are different types of sales. A complex deal needs a complex sales process to be effective.
Spending Too Little Time in Discovery
You know what your dream client needs. Their challenges are precisely what you help other clients with every day. You knew their pain points before you sat down in their office. Because you have the experience your client is lacking, you already know what you are going to recommend, and you are confident you can produce the result they need in short order.
Bigger deals tend to require more conversations. The value you create through the discovery process is vital to the B2B buyers with whom you are meeting.
In some scenarios, the discovery you do will be for you, providing you with the information you need to help your potential client. In other cases, discovery is necessary for your client. Much of the time, both of these outcomes are necessary.
When you shorten discovery, you might also be reducing the value you create and causing the contacts you are working with to feel some lacking. That lacking might be an understanding or a lack of confidence moving forward. It might also feel as if you are rushing them, another way you make it challenging to prefer you and your solution.
Believe You Need Only One Contact
Here is a rule of thumb worth observing: the larger the deal, the more stakeholders you will have to identify and manage. It is a mistake to believe your power sponsor is going to be the only person you need to say yes.
The larger the deal, the more significant—and visible—it is. A single stakeholder is not going to decide by themselves, nor are they going to make a decision that their team without their team being aware of what they are doing. You will find this to be true even though your contact told you they were making the decision, and even though you have no idea who or how many people are involved in the decision.
Going into a deal with a single contact is how you end up answering the phone call from your power sponsor, only to be greeted with the words: “We decided to go another direction.” The “we” are all the people who were part of the buying decision. There is no decision-maker, there are multiple decision-makers.
Over the last year, I have noticed that salespeople, enchanted by new technologies, and Hell-bent on greater efficiency (as are their leaders). The result of the idea that one should be efficient shows up as a conversation or two, followed by emailed proposal and pricing.
If you want to, you can file this under “transacting,” as it is undoubtedly an indication of the mindset. There is, however, a more significant point about big clients with big contracts. You are not going to win by being efficient. You are going to win by being effective.
What you do is a reflection of what you believe about your client and how you think you should be serving them. The fact that it isn’t worth your time to meet with your client to walk through your proposal, the investment you are asking them to make, as well as how it is going to generate the result better than other options projects that you can’t be bothered to spend time with them.
Fail to Differentiate Your Approach
You can underestimate how much the preference to work with you over your competitors comes from your approach to the sales conversation.
The approach I believe to be most valuable is one I call Level 4 Value Creation, which is how I describe a super-consultative approach that recommends a process that delivers the client a strategic level of value, in addition to the other three levels. (See Eat Their Lunch for more, or watch this YouTube video).
Your approach has to help shape the buying process. Sometimes you will find it easy to help your client. Other times, it will be more difficult, with contacts acting in ways that make it more difficult for them to get the better results they need. The approach you take can differentiate and define you, especially if yours is modern, and your competitors are something less.
Believing Price is the Main Criteria
Price is always going to be a factor. How could it be otherwise when no one has an unlimited budget, and every company has constraints they must recognize. It’s a mistake to believe that every deal is price-driven.
Some salespeople mistakenly believe that all they need to do to win a deal is to show up with the lowest price. Occasionally, they are correct, mostly because they happened to bump into a massive opportunity where the price was heavily weighted or a decision made by a neophyte that didn’t understand the concessions they agreed to accept.
Play this game long enough, and you will see sales teams who believe the price is everything lose deals because the client didn’t think they were going to be able to execute the way they needed. I have seen this result in government contracts where the purchasing agent was responsible for accepting the lowest price from a responsible, responsive supplier. They removed competitors because they believed they were irresponsible, avoiding the risk of failing.
Underestimate Your Competition
One of the deadly sins in sales is believing your competitor is no threat. It is a mistake to underestimate them.
You hear all the positive comments your contacts share with you throughout the process, how much they like you, how much they like your ideas, and your solution. You feel like you have the support you need to win. What you have no way of knowing is that your competitor hears the same thing from the people who support them and their solution.
You believe your sales organization is better than your competitors. They think they are better than you. One of you is going to win, and the other will necessarily lose. This is a truth of enterprise sales.
The one that loses might well be the one who was arrogant enough to believe their competitor isn’t capable of winning. The one who wins will respect their competition, bringing their best effort to the contest, assuming they are behind.
If you want to win big deals, do the work, and avoid making mistakes that might cost you your mammoth contract.
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