Making 2.5 lakhs per project when I was a first-year student working from my dorm room at NIT Rourkela was kind of a big deal.
For me for friends for all my family members.
Some of them were professionals and they didn’t even make that kind of money in one year…
Soon the success got to my head
I became overconfident and dropped out of college after the 4th semester.
And when I tried to do web development professionally, I failed.
Why was I able to easily close ‘big’ deals when I was in college but failed miserably once I started my web development agency?
You may not be a founder but if you are in B2B sales then the future of your company depends on you and others like you.
And if you fail you will either be replaced or the company shuts down as mine did!
Here are 6 fundamental techniques of B2B selling that I had known then I wouldn’t struggle and failed so hard!
Heck, I’m sure if somehow I had to learn these things in the time we could’ve built and maybe even sold a thriving digital agency business.
Because we had secret sauce but we completely failed in sales…
#1 Getting into the B2B sales mindset
Professional B2B selling is very different…
When I was in college, I was doing it for fun.
There was no pressure, no costs.
I was practically doing it for pocket money.
And every deal I closed was kind of a big deal!
But starting an agency means fixed costs and liabilities.
If I’m not able to sell what we do, then people lose their jobs and maybe even livelihoods used for a few months!
Here closing one or two big deals was not going to cut it.
Thanks to the money from the gigs in college I had a runway of about six months.
In 6 months I had to build a pipeline and the relationships to bring us enough repeat business to pay the bills and sustain the business.
My first and biggest mistake was chasing each and every ‘big deal’ rather than building relationships!
It took me years to realize that B2B selling is not about picking up the phone and shouting my pitch to whoever Is listening.
Instead, it’s all about building relationships that will create repeated business opportunities forever!
#2 Understanding my own role as a B2B salesperson
At that time I used to think that
If I don’t close the deal nothing else matters
Hence my only rule was – Close deals and bring revenue to the company.
Today I can say with absolute conviction that closing deals and getting revenue is a byproduct. The method is to genuinely care about and try to help the prospect.
It means doing what’s best for the prospect.
Even if you have to delay the deal or refer him to a competitor!
Sure you will lose out on some of the deals!
But most of the people you talk to will realize that you had and you will always have their best interest at heart.
Now let’s step into the shoes of the prospect for a second –
He has a difficult decision to make!
He knows nothing about Website designing or development, how much is it supposed to cost and what real value will it bring for him.
In such a situation who do you think he’s going to trust?
The charismatic sales executive who is good at manipulating him?
Or the agency owner who will do what is best for him even if his own agency loses business.
Here’s another analogy to help you understand the concept –
If you’re ill, will you go to the best doctor in town or will you go to your chacha ji who is a really good doctor himself?
The other guy might be the best doctor in town but your chacha ji really cares about you so he will prescribe the medicine that is actually best for you instead of the one that makes him the most amount of money!
#3 Understanding the concept of pipeline
Most people believe in selling hard and closing today…
On the other hand, building a relationship means giving the prospect the time to explore other options and figure out on his own that you really are the best choice for him.
Yes, you can close the deal today by twisting his arm, manipulating him, and creating artificial scarcity in the form of a really good one-time offer or something like that.
And yes if you think long-term and try to build a relationship with the prospects your competitors may jump in and steal that particular prospect in the meanwhile!
But tell me this
Who will you buy a car from?
Somebody who gives you a 2% discount if you buy today?
Or somebody who actually takes the time to understand your questions and answer all your queries. Gives you the time to shop around and really find out that this is actually the best choice for you?
Let’s say you even purchased from that manipulator think you will realize soon enough that you were manipulated?
Let’s say 6 months later your brother needs to buy a car.
Will you refer him to the manipulator?
Or the person who was genuinely trying to help you and willing to give you time to compare your options?
B2B sales is more like selling cars instead of selling ice cream.
You’re not selling a commodity!
And if you do it right you will get the chance to sell again and again to the same customer.
Hence trust and relationship matter most!
And manipulating or creating fake urgency with one-time offers etc is not the right way to build trust!
Heck if you do that most clients will realize that you are too desperate and they will ask you to fuck off!
#4 Filtering leads and choosing my customers
Instead of chasing everyone said ‘I want a website’
I spent half an hour on the call understanding his entire business and how a website can help represent his business online!
I explained everything that he needs to do. Convinced him!
And then this guy goes “Sounds great! My budget is around 11,000 for all this and I am in no hurry so you can take your time“
However, this is the exact opposite of the type of client that we wanted at that point time.
We wanted people who had a decent budget and needed things done fast so they would not stretch the project forever!
But since I had spent so much time on the call with him – I wanted to take up the project anyway, even when I knew very well that at 11,000 we will not even recover our cost!
At first, I was so excited to hear that somebody needs the service that I didn’t take the time to qualify him!
This is the biggest mistake that almost all salespeople make when they start out.
They try to chase and close everyone.
They work super hard and yet somehow end up making the least total revenue.
It’s important to realize that you can’t and you absolutely should not try to close everyone!
Heck before you even talk to anyone, first and foremost you must qualify if this guy is the right target audience.
Here is a simple three-step qualification formula
- Define the characteristics of your ideal target audience (for us it was people with a budget who needed a website fast).
- Figure out what questions you need to ask in order to find if someone falls in that category (what’s your deadline, what’s your budget… etc).
- Get them to fill out a survey so that you get to qualify them even before you talk to them.
You can check out the lead qualification survey that we use to qualify leads for TeleCRM
#5 Refining my pitch and improving every day
All the mindset stuff that we have talked about so far is not an alternative to having a good pitch!
You have to be more persuasive and good at convincing people.
Because only having their best interest in your heart is not going to close the deal!
You have to get them to see that it’s actually the best for them.
Here is a three-step formula to turn your pitch into a pro within 30 days.
Do the following analysis after every ‘failed‘ or ‘unsuccessful‘ call.
- Why did this call fail?
- If it was not the right target audience that’s fine but otherwise always ask – what particular question or statement started derailing the conversation
- What are the two things I can do to handle a similar situation better in the future?
Here are some reasons why calls fail and deals go sour are –
- Wrong timing
Along with doing it right, you have to do it at the right time because people only buy exactly when they need it
- Assuming things about customers
According to the form details, he only has one caller so the size of the deal is not that big.
What if he just wants to test with one user first? It’s always best to ask rather than assume.
- Getting nervous if it’s a big deal
If you do it with the intention of building a relationship then it’s just one more person and the size of the deal doesn’t really matter. But if you are concerned only about closing then every time you get a ‘big’ deal you will start becoming nervous
- Oversharing & over explaining
Giving more information than necessary confuses the prospects and they run away.
If the customer starts bargaining and you get desperate then you overpromise, after that even if the deal closes it will end up creating a bad experience because you cannot really deliver on what you promised.
Instead, when things get heated it’s best to take a break, cool down and call him back in a couple of minutes.
- Egos get involved
Sometimes the conversation can get heated. And either you say something that hurts his ego or he pokes your ego. In such a situation it’s important to ignore the irrelevant ego talk and come back to the topic at hand. If needed take a break and call him back!
- Not asking for closure or rushing it too much
If you explain everything but don’t ask the prospect to move to the next step and initial payment then he will keep coming back with questions, if you rush too much he will know that you are being desperate. And everyone knows that nobody likes desperate salespeople.
- Not defining your own agenda for the call
Do you want to understand his business?
Or do you want to pitch him?
Or do you want to close the deal?
B2B sales take more than one interaction and if you don’t set a clear agenda for yourself ahead of a sales call that you are bound to get confused and confuse the prospect as a result.
As a salesperson, you have to fail and face rejection, again and again, every single day!
You can either use those failures as learning opportunities to help you become a pro,
Or you can use them as a source for your frustration!
The choice is totally yours!
Another approach to learning and improving your sales techniques real fast is by joining a group of elite salespeople and learning from their mistakes as well.
We will create a co-learning group for people who are genuinely interested in learning and getting better at Sales.
Just comment I want to be better at sales below this post.
Once we get more than 10 interested candidates we will start the group and hold weekly sessions to discuss mistakes and lessons from everyone’s experiences.
#6 Instead of Sending Happy Dussehra and Happy Diwali…
Help! Help! Help!
I am not going to open TeleCRM’s current account with HDFC just because you sent me a Happy Diwali pic on WhatsApp 3 months ago.
Most salespeople just send you an automated happy birthday, happy anniversary or Happy Dussehra & Happy Diwali images on WhatsApp in the name of ‘building and maintaining the relationship‘.
But if you have a question and you call them they give you the official support channel’s number!
But when they have targets to meet THEIR TARGETS they will come back to you asking for business!
That’s the only response they should get.
But because most people are polite, they just say No! thank you!
Maintaining contact does not mean you have to send Happy Dussehra and Happy Diwali images.
It means you have to always look for ways to help them and solve their problems!
This is not very hard.
If you solve their problem once, they will naturally prefer to come to you every time they face a problem!
And guess who they will go to when they need to buy something?
Not some random stranger with a good pitch!
But to you!
Because you have a track record of being there for them ready to help whenever they need help!
B2B sales are about creating value for your target audience and building a relationship rather than a selfish approach of only focusing on closing more deals.
It can be hard to wrap your head around this approach at first but
The only way to succeed in long-term B2B sales is to see long-term.
Once you’re in the correct mindset, initially it might take a lot of effort but eventually, you will crack the formula. And then nothing can stop you.
In the initial phases, it helps to surround yourself with people who have been there done that, and have the right advice for you.
It’s always helpful to have a group of like-minded salespeople helping each other grow.
This is why we are creating a group of like-minded B2B salespeople.
If you want to join the group all you just have to comment – I want to be better at sales.
Once we get the 10 interested people we will start a group and have weekly sessions to discuss sales struggles and lessons!