B2B sales is broken
“Trust me, I’m a salesperson!” — said no one, ever.
Evolve or die. That is the choice facing all of us in B2B sales. Why?
Buyers are done:
- Done with the assault of a thousand cold emails.
- Done with the relentless cold calling.
- Done with the all of the lead forms, the chatbots, the tactics.
- Done with pushy salespeople.
How bad has it become? If you are in B2B sales, scroll through your LinkedIn feed. See all of the posts that look like this:
Or this epic rant …
What are the common themes here? Frustration at being bombarded by unsolicited outreach. Impersonal messaging that is me-first. The inability to build an authentic connection with the buyer in a meaningful way. There’s an unmistakable distaste for the way sales is being done today.
But for a bit of perspective: Every company needs to sell their product. Whether you are a company that’s curing cancer, architecting self-driving cars, or designing snowboards — you are betting that someone will buy your product. Sales = Money. And every business, large and small, needs money to survive. So why is the profession of bringing in that revenue among the most vilified in our society? Understanding why starts with a simple question.
Question: What is the job of a salesperson?
- Sell to everyone that walks in the door!
- Hit their quota, no matter what!
- Do/say whatever it takes to close deals!
If this is how salespeople think, then it’s obvious how they have developed such tarnished reputations. If a person believes their job is to be selfish, to manipulate another person into spending money for a product they don’t need, then it’s easy to see how expressions such as snake-oil salesman have permeated our society. In fact, a recent survey from Hubspot found that only 3% of technology buyers trust salespeople.
3%! ... Ouch.
This lack of trust is hurting salespeople and vendors where it hurts most: the bottom line. Just how important is trust in sales? A recent Harvard Business Review study asked hundreds of technology buyers who evaluated a SaaS software product why then didn’t end up buying it. Executives cited that the #1 reason they didn’t buy was a lack of trust and respect for the salesperson they were working with.
Are all salespeople like this?
Thankfully, no. Over the past 11 months, we’ve interviewed thousands of trusted B2B sellers from a multitude of industries. Sellers who are not only consistently above quota, but also receive glowing recommendations from their customers that really love doing business with them! We wanted to learn what they did differently from the average salesperson, and one of the biggest learnings was around perspective. Elite sellers understand that the job of a modern B2B salesperson is to be an expert:
- An expert in their industry
- An expert in their product (and their competitors’ products!)
- A technical consultant who serves as an expert advisor to buyers, ensuring they are making the right purchasing decision.
But above it all, there was one common theme. The best salespeople uniformly agree that the job of a salesperson is to build trust with buyers. And while sales professionals around the world know the importance of building trust, we aren’t doing a good job of it.
So why don’t buyers trust salespeople? More importantly, can it be fixed?