IncompetenceA question I get quite often is “Why can’t my sales people sell?”

This is a very complicated and complex question, and it cannot be answered in one simple sentence.

Selling is probably the most difficult and one of the most sophisticated processes in business. It is difficult, (sophisticated/complex) because you have to convince another company to part with its money. And, in B2B sales, this usually requires more than one person (group or committee) to say yes.

There are many things a B2B sales person must know and understand before he/she can become good at his/her craft. This is true with most professions, but in no other job, other than marketing, must you get another company to part with its money.

There are three areas that B2B sales people must be competent in before they will be able to sell. B2B marketers should also be competent in these areas too.

The three areas are;
1. Selling skills.
2. Company issues.
3. Client Objections.

Let’s look at the first area today – B2B Selling Skills.

CSO Insights, a B2B sales research company, came up with the following startling statistics for 2012-2013. They researched over 1200 companies for these results.

• 41.8% sales reps missed quota.
• 58% of firms missed revenue.
• Forecast accuracy for 90 days is only 46.5%.
• 35% of new sales people take up to 10 months to get up to speed.
• On average 4.5 people make decisions in the B2B buyer companies.

These are scary stats. But you can see why so many companies are asking the question – “Why can’t my sales people sell?”

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why it takes so long, and many B2B sales people fail.

There are two basic issues here about why B2B sales people fail.

1. The amount of training and coaching needed to ensure B2B sales success.
2. The job responsibilities B2B sales people face.

B2B Training & Coaching

There are four basic areas B2B sales people must be become competent in, before they can really sell in B2B sales situations. These four areas are,
• Selling skills
• Market/Client, Issues, Value
• Competition
• Research

Did you know that there are no University degrees in salesmanship? Every Business school has marketing degrees, but none have sales degrees.

Most B2B sales people are lacking in basic selling skills. Many B2B sales people are hired either right out of school, and they are given no training or coaching by the firm that hires them. And very few had any training and/or coaching with their previous company.

And if they do have training, most times it is because they are behind in quota, and they get the flavour of the month training with no coaching. This type of training lasts about two months maximum, and sales people go back to their old, usually incompetent, ways.

Many other B2B sales people come from a company that has a marketing department that feeds them leads. And yet many of these are not followed up on, and very few close a sale.

Very few B2B companies give their sales people such basic marketing and sales information as;
• An ideal client company profile
• An ideal client company decision maker
• What issues these clients and decision makers face to help them sell better
• A value proposition that set their company apart, showing the value a potential client will receive by using their products and services.

And very few B2B companies arm their sales people with competitive research, or even how to properly do the research on their potential clients and the competition.

And these are just for starters. No wonder so many sales people fail.

B2B Sales Job Responsibilities

These responsibilities include the following;
• Product Knowledge
• Client Facing meetings
• Product/Service Updates
• Internal Meetings
• Travel
• Updating internal systems such as CRM
• Etc.

Without going into each one of these job duties, you can see there are many distractions that take away from actual selling time for B2B sales people.

B2B companies need to find ways to minimize these other duties, so that their sales people can spend 50-75% of their time strictly on prospect and client duties.

The next time we will look at the second reason B2B sales people can’t sell – Company Issues.

So look for the next article in the next few days.