In the past 10 years, we’ve done everything we can to take the “human” out of complex B2B selling.

We’ve mechanized the process, focusing on our efficiency and less the customer buying experience. We inflict mass, meaningless outreaches across increasing numbers of channels and increasing volumes of suspects.

Sales growth has become a “predictable” math equation. “If it takes so many emails/dials to produce a conversation, to double the conversations, we simply double the emails/dials.”

Rather than focusing on listening, learning, sharing, we have tools focused on conversational intelligence–but they can’t conduct high impact conversations.

We focus on the numbers and not what the numbers mean. Customers become widgets in our efficient sales strategy. They are processed by SDRs, SEs, Demo people, Account Managers and others. We move them from one step to the next, not taking the time to recognize these are people dealing with very complex issues.

And we are failing–but we hide that failure of our models in volumes. Again, if 1 million outreaches doesn’t achieve the goal, we up the outreaches until it achieves the goal.

And we are still failing. The percent of people making quota continue to decline. The percent of customers abandoning their buyer’s journey with no decision made is very high-at 53%. And buyer regret is increasing at an alarming rate.

It’s a perfect storm—but with everything going against what we and the customer want to achieve.

We’ve lost site that complex B2B buying is all about people, about human interaction–within the buying group, between us and the buyers. If buying were easy, if solving the problems and having confidence in those solutions were easy, none of this would be happening.

But the biggest issue facing customers is decision confidence–not in vendor selection, but rather, “Are they making the right business decision.” They worry about it personally and organizationally.

And it’s something that logic, data, endless testimonials and success stories won’t overcome.

It really becomes about human relationships. Do we care enough about the buyer and their success? Do they know it? Do we recognize the importance of their confidence in their decision and are we helping them become more confident?

We confuse relationships and selling being all about people with likability. Consequently, we focus on the wrong things in building relationships. We focus on surface issues—the lunches, the birthday cards, golf, and the “social” things we think build relationships.

But the real issue is helping them be confident, demonstrating that we care, building trust in the relationship, recognizing the risks are greater on the buyer side than what we face with the simple win/loss of a deal.

Complex B2B buying and selling is all about people, aligning interests, and building shared confidence in the path forward. It’s about helping people make sense of what they face, sifting through the complexity, conflicting ideas/agendas, risks, information overload and constant disruptions. It’s helping them map a course to achieving their goals, and supporting them in doing so.

Sales has always been about people and relationships. Customers have always known that, we just seem to have lost our way.