Selling in B2B versus consumer sales

B2B, Business, client management, Sales, Trust

Most books in sales that you get int he market are written by people who have sold houses, or FMCG products with cater to the psychology of the end consumer. So they have tricks to handle objections and ways to close the sale. The advantage for the consumer sales person is that the market is generally huge. So if you can find a pattern with a few sales, then you are on to big commissions. The other side of the coin is that the consumer market is grossly populated with so many brands already, that it takes an enormous amount of energy to break into the market.

On the other hand the B2B customer is difficult to enter because companies have massive processes to enrol a new vendor and there is a huge amount of inertia to go through the process to get a new vendor. Since I have been involved in doing B2B sales for all my career, I have had so many situations, where, inspite of spending multiple years on trying to break into an account, we were not able to enter the customer. This is especially true for large companies. With SMB, it is relatively easier but still a process.

The key reason for this inertia is the fact that no one wants to have a “failed project” with a new vendor. There’s a lot of peer pressure in an organisation and people are looking at opportunities to ‘showcase a failure’.

It’s also very rare that you have a product or service which is very unique and you are the only provider of that service. Actually if you are the only person in the market, then chances are that there is No Market for your product or service, otherwise someone would have found it. I have also gone into market with a unique technology and failed because customers weren’t willing to take the risk with a unique technology.

Geoffrey Moore had written a wonderful book and come out with a unique idea on “Crossing the chasm”. As per this it takes enormous amount of energy to propel a new technology from the “risk takers” to mass adopters. It’s similar to a rocket needing tremendous energy to get out of earth’s orbit and again needing enormous energy to enter the orbit of another planet. Most unique technology products fail because they don’t have the energy to cross the chasm.

But having said that, once you enter into a B2B customer and you successfully execute the first couple of orders, then it will be very difficult to dislodge you. It’s the same logic that I had mentioned earlier, now being used to your advantage. Since managers don’t want a failure and you have successfully showcased that you can be relied upon and trusted, they will want to keep working with you.

You may have some hiccups with some new managers coming in or the organisation getting resized or re-engineered, but if you have built relationships across different functions, then these things can generally be managed more easily.

The other advantage in B2B is that most of your competitors are known and you figure out how they will react to what situation. This allows you to choose your sweet spot in the market and then just stick to it.

If you have any queries on B2B sales/marketing – do drop in your question and I would love to se if I can be of help.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Pre-empting conversations

Affirmative action, client management, Fear, Trust

While my experience has been sales and then marketing, I also carry a revenue responsibility.

When you carry a revenue responsibility, managing client engagement becomes a major task.

A lot of times deciphering the why behind the what becomes a tight rope walk. Especially when you are selling services, where, unlike in the case of a product, the boundaries are not clearly defined, managing the gap between the customer expectations and the delivery of services is an every day challenge

One thing I have found useful is to pre-empt the conversation. You don’t give a chance to the customer to come and complain. You go and tell her the challenge, what could be the impact and how you think you are going to solve it. Then you ask the customer for suggestions so that she sees herself as superior to you, which helps manage her ego . Also since you have informed her of the problem, before she could complain, she is now partly responsible for finding the solution. This affirmative action also increases trust.

A lot of the out-bursts which happen when a customer complains, can be completely avoided if we pre-empt things. However most service delivery people are scared to do this out of fear, that the customer will fire them, not realizing that the firing in a complaint situation is even worse.

If you are in services, its always a good idea to pre-empt the conversation if you want to be successful.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

The way you say it….

client management, problem solving, relationships, Speaking, Uncategorized

A few weeks back I had written a few posts about the relevance of asking questions.

One of the things I have noticed in handling clients over many years, is that they all come in different shapes and sizes – literally and figuratively.

To build rapport with someone you need to gauge the person and then speak to them in a way that resonates with them.

Most of the problems that occur in client interactions is not because the client is demanding or whether the delivery is not happening at the right time or in the right way.

Its mostly about how you say, what you say and the tone in which you which makes a lot of difference. In addition if you make the client a partner in the solution then it works even better, because then she would like to see the solution succeed even more than you do.

Building long term clients who keep doing business with you for years to come, has a lot to do with how you handle them. It takes years to build relationships but you start with a simple step in how you say what you want to say.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!