The Modern B2B Seller: From Traditional to Strategic

Over the 30 years that I have been leading sales teams, there have been a significant amount of change in the B2B buying process. Most of these changes are related to the advancement of technology, the increasing size of the buying committee, and buyer access to information. However, one of the biggest changes that I’ve seen has been the amount of time that buyers are actually spending with suppliers, which has steadily declined over the past few years. Today's buyer has a much greater propensity to “self-educate”.  

Change in buyers = change in sellers

The average number of stakeholders involved in a B2B purchase is anywhere from 6 to 10 and it's become abundantly clear that the B2B buying process is no longer linear.  According to Gartner, today's sellers have very little opportunity to influence customer decisions. In fact, Gartner research found that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers, the amount of time spent with anyone else may only be 5% or 6%. 

This raises an important question. How will today's seller gain control or confidence in their selling process? The reality is that less than 60% of sales executives are achieving their sales quotas. Which raises another question…Should we expect that buyers will be less or more likely to avoid seller contact in the future? 

Needless to say, the stakes are high with categories growing and the competition heating up. At times, you may be competing with thousands of other vendors — forcing you to be as precise and accurate as possible to win. Thus, every opportunity to engage with a buyer and/or buying committees must be highly prepared for, orchestrated, and rehearsed for optimization. To ensure success, organizations must enable sellers to quickly elevate and find compelling and relevant alignment with the prospective buyer in an effort to ensure a maximized impact that accelerates trust while blocking out the competition. This includes “status-quo”/no decision which today accounts for 66% of all closed/lost deals. 

So, what can sellers do?

As many challenges sellers are presented with today, there are ways to overcome them. Here are 3 quick tips sellers can implement today to help maximize their impact and improve their performance:

1. Embrace the transition to digital

Sellers need the right digital tools that empower them to build engagement with customers and buying committees—not to mention, also replicate the traditional forms of selling to keep them focused on what counts. Ruthless prioritization on the accounts that are the most likely to buy is key, all while having insights when accounts are engaging with you so that you have a swift follow-up to get involved in their discovery process.

2. Revisit B2B sales enablement

Sellers need new methods of sales enablement. As a start, aim to align selling activities to prospect buyer journeys.

3. Data—Separate the indicators from the noise

Hone in on what the right data is and looks like. In a digital age, we have access to an abundance of metrics, but focus on the numbers that count. Are you keeping a pulse on different segments and forecasting properly? Are you moving toward focusing on acceleration, velocity, deal size, ARR?

4. Align with marketing

Since buyer's are doing so much independent learning, you need to amplify your approach across channels and adopt account-based strategies that help you show up in all the right places, at the right time, with the right message.  This is a huge need for common GTM definitions around sales teams to align with marketing, product, and customer success more than ever.

Goodbye tradition, hello strategic

Sales executives can no longer rely on their rapport and relationship-building skills alone in order to advance their sales opportunities to close. Subject matter experts are brought in to help facilitate conversations as each and every touchpoint with a prospect reigns value. Whether via email, video calls, or in-person, that way nothing can be left to chance. 

When I signed on to lead the New Business Sales (NBS) Organization at RollWorks, I signed on with a mission of raising our level of relationship with buyers while also instituting a process that is formal yet dynamically informed by data, including conversation intelligence from call recordings. We have a vision to grow our sales teams by 4x come January 2028.  

This will require clear definition and complete alignment when it comes to recruitment, hiring, onboarding, enablement, and management up to and including on-going coaching, direction, and support from leadership. Achieving this goal also means that we move away from a “command and control” style of leadership to that of “trust and inspire”. This is where our teams are not just engaged and performing to the level of our standards, but to the level of their potential. For our current and future sales hires, we want to create an environment and process that reflects the behaviors of a high-performer. 

How will we do that as sales leaders today? Best-in-class frameworks that enable success in today’s complex selling environment. 

In my experience, I have found that one of the distinguishing characteristics of a high-performance sales team is that they know where to spend their time. I also believe that whatever we focus on will expand. As a sales leader, my mission is to explore this expansion through collaboration. Keep in mind, it's all about the mission, mindset, motives, management, measurement, and methodologies that make for the building of such a team.

Join me on this journey. Download our hiring kit for a breakdown of the most sought after skills in ABM.

About the Author

Shawn Cook, Vice President of Sales

Shawn Cook is the Vice President of Sales at RollWorks

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