The 7 secret habits of B2B sales high performers - Part 1

Over the many years we have worked with high performing sales people we have always been interested in what sets them apart from their colleagues. How are they able to sell much higher volumes at higher margins?

We discovered that the big difference is the way they think and behave - this creates the good habits that set them apart.

Secret Sales Habit 1

Sell quickly, slowly

What does this mean?

Let me demonstrate with an example:

The sale is for a mix of products and services for the Industrial segment, with an expected sales lead time of 4 months. The high performer takes a more strategic approach by spending the first half of this sales cycles uncovering the insight that is critical to this particular opportunity. This will include:

  • The motivations of the client

  • Their current issues & challenges

  • What problem are they trying to solve?

  • Who are all the people involved in the decision, what role will they play and what's important to them?

  • What does the competitive landscape look like?

  • What does success look like?

  • Etc, etc, etc

As the high performer uncovers this insight, they are gradually building the solution. Once they have enough insight, they fully flesh out their solution, and test elements of their solution across the key stakeholders.

Their next step is to prepare a draft proposal based on the feedback from their informal testing. They present the draft to uncover any issues and gain the buy-in and support of the key stakeholders, by working on the draft with them.

This results in a final proposal that is presented for approval.

This approach may take 10 to 12 interactions with the client over the 4-month period and their win rates (varies by segment) is roughly 70% and at higher than average margins.

If this is compared to a more transactional approach taken by mid-level performers the effort and outcomes vary greatly. The more transactional approach will commence with insight, but not with the breadth and depth of the high performer. This insight will include:

  • When do they need the product delivered?

  • What budget do they have?

  • What features and functionality do they need?

  • Etc, etc

Once they have this basic insight, they prepare a proposal in the hope that they can close the sale. This is presented, but the client raises a few issues and then they get into a cycle of negotiation, with many interactions. As this stage progresses the proposal is changed, and prices reduced. They then get to a final proposal, that they may win. But the big difference is this approach takes more like 20 25 interactions over the same period and win rates are around 30% and at lower margin.

Have a look at your current approach and measure yourself against the more strategic approach, maybe you can improve your performance by selling quickly, slowly.