How Optimism Kills Your B2B Sales Deals

Jul 13, 2017 by Bill Golder

sales talent

Optimism is a key trait of many sales professionals, and it’s a trait that serves most of us well when we're faced with a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal).

Having an optimistic outlook allows us to see past the barriers and focus on solving a problem versus shying away from it.

Optimistic people are more fun to hang out with than pessimists.

Having a beer with TV character Jim Halpert from the sitcom The Office would be more fun than hanging out with his fellow salesman and skeptic Dwight Schrute. 

Being positive and optimistic is a wonderful trait, but it’s also a strength that can turn into a weakness in the process of pursuing a large, complex B2B sale.

Sales teams face two common realities that can hamper their abilities to win deals and exceed their revenue targets. 

#1: The difference between a record-breaking year and a disappointing year comes down to a few critical deals.

#2: Only select salespeople seem to win those large, complex B2B deals consistently.

Based on years of assessing salespeople and conducting win/loss reviews on large complex B2B sales, I've come to realize that there's one unique quality that separates the consistent winners from the rest.

Relatively good salespeople often get beat due to an overly optimistic view of their deals.

We recently received a call from a senior sales executive who described the pain of losing a big deal that they were sure had been won.

It’s a familiar story for us when we assess deals that are lost. The salesperson neglected to vet and validate the information he received from the prospect.

In the end, there were more steps and more key players involved in the decision than had originally been assumed and the deal fell through.

It was a large deal that had been forecasted as an assumed closed won deal.

See the glass as half empty...

Conversely, when a complex B2B sale that has been pursued correctly is analyzed, I see the sales representative and sales management take a far more critical eye.

They trust but verify, especially when it comes to understanding the buying process.

They don’t shy away from asking questions that get to the specifics on all the key players who will have an interest and/or influence on a decision.

Why do salespeople frequently avoid getting these specifics?

Many times, they feel like they will come across as pushy or as disrespectful toward the contact who has spelled out a relatively simple buying process.

That's a fair argument for making sure your approach and timing for your questions are appropriate; however, it's not a legitimate argument for taking the information at face value without further exploration.

Top B2B sellers think differently...

Instead of thinking about this step as a necessary one to close a sale, top sellers think about it as a necessary component of helping a prospect better align all of the key players once a decision is ultimately made.

Better alignment, better adoption.

It’s in your prospect's best interest to launch a new or different solution with as much momentum and buy-in as possible.

Your job as the sales representative for that solution is to not just make the sale, but to do so in a way that the customer will have a great experience from the time they implement to the time they are expecting a certain outcome from your solution.

Good implementation followed by the desired outcome from your solution really requires solid vetting of all the key players who will be impacted and who will be concerned with the implementation in any way.

This approach isn’t about closing, this is about helping your contact achieve the objectives they are trying to achieve.

Top B2B sellers get into the details of the buying process early and surface the needs and pain points of other key players.

As a result, they are better able to understand all the decision dependencies and likely time frames to get through certain stages of a buying decision.

In the end, sales heavyweights are more likely to forecast deals that will win and when they will close them more accurately. 

sales talent

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About the Author

Bill Golder

Sales growth consultant with decades of small and large enterprise experience. Former CSO for Miller Heiman and Bulldog Solutions.



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