Why Almost Everything You Believe About B2B Selling Is Wrong

Wrong Way Marketing
Wrong Way Marketing

Current B2B sales is an industry where sales teams and the prospects they seek, are locked in a spiraling arms race of advanced technology.

Sales managers buy AI or machine learning platforms to get to elusive prospects.  Prospects employ those technologies to protect emails and cell phones from these swarming pests.

There is no B2B selling any more, there are just automated processes starting with DiscoverOrg lists, generating SPAM emails, creating sales “funnels,” followed by useless profiles, with BDRs (kids who dial for dollars all day) calling incessantly, and prospects hiding behind Gmail accounts.

Automated platforms, whether CRM, revenue management, AI driven whatever fail to replace the intimacy, the humanness of personal selling.

When B2B sellers field sales robots with “AI driven” sales processes, prospects respond, at scale, with equally robotic defenses.  They avoid robots.  Responses are in Gmail, not their corporate email.  They employ call blockers.

Sales reps have become widgets where sales managers give them account lists in mid-January expecting sales forecasts, commits, “what’s your stretch goal” 45 days later.

There is no understanding of “time in territory” as a key sales success metric.

Sales managers become transaction monitors, not sales leaders.

Rather than spending a day in the field with a sales rep, managers sit behind monitors, with “sales ops” monitoring funnels, time in the CRM queue, days to whatever.

Sales managers, divorced from sales reality hold waterboarding sessions every 90 days called QBRs – quarterly business reviews.  These clueless sales managers drill their reps, who just got that account list 90 days ago, about what hidden force lurks behind that low level prospective buyer forecasted to do a $24,000 transaction.

Social media marketing becomes nothing more than SPAM by another means.

Bald guys with big smiles from Australia try to convince people spamming someone on LinkedIn or Facebook, pretending to be their pal, interested in their content, then hitting them up for an appointment with the follow up email actually works.

Their inherent contradiction, lost on sales managers, is that such junk thinking only works selling to desperate sales managers.  Just try to hook a buying executive evaluating complex artificial intelligence solutions that way.  I dare you!

There are way too many over-funded B2B vendors lacking the energy for an exit but with enough dough to stay alive chasing too few prospects and overwhelming them with cold calls, spam and content marketing.

Content marketing is almost exclusively over-homogenized vendor brochures called “white papers” often created by some fake “analyst” paid to come up with the vendor’s conclusion.

Buyers ignore that marketing junk food and everyone knows it.  Its creation lingers because marketing departments have always done it this way and they cannot figure another way to keep their department funded.

One of the great scams inherent in B2B selling is the Business Development VP.

Here you find that corporate politician, living in the smoky fog between sales and marketing, producing useless press releases about “partnerships.”

These types almost always have great hair, big smiles, can talk about baseball, dress impeccably, producing nothing of value to the street sales rep.

The saying among sales teams is Bus Dev = No Rev.

None of this is working people.

Sales turnover has never been higher.  Credible reports show 80% of sales reps cannot make quota.  Typical sales reps quit their company, let alone their territory, in 18 months or less.

The cost of sales often exceeds 70%.

The constant is almost free venture capital money propping up SaaS zombies.

This too will end.

When infinite funding stops, many of these companies will mercifully die.

Clever founder CEOs recognize the cost of this sales madness and its ugly outcome.  Rather than continue what does not work, they are trying something different.

Visionary founders are going to market without venture capital.

They start with one, maybe two real salespeople.  They contact prospects, the old-fashioned way, with a real value prop, brought by a trusted advisor.

Their turnover is zero; their cost of sales is under 20%.

B2B selling actually works when robots are replaced by humans and SPAM is replaced by imagination.

Reprinted from Software Executive Magazine