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The Dynamic of B2B Sales Has Changed

Jacco van der Kooij

Written by Jacco van der Kooij

Founder, Winning by Design


The godfather of modern sales, Dale Carnegie, pioneered a linear sales funnel that transformed the sales industry, helping salespeople by providing a framework that enables sales reps. leaders and management to manage a customer’s progression through this sales defined funnel towards a sale.

Brilliant! This meant that sales had this really simple synchronous process we could progress customers through towards a sale. It was repeatable, scalable and the customers accepted it because they didn’t have a choice. Salespeople held all of the information!

If the customer wanted to learn about your offering you traded that information to progress them through your sales process process. e.g. maybe they wanted to know your pricing, this would be traded too. “Sure Ms. Customer, if you tell me your budget I will let you know if you are in the ballpark

The availability of information has changed the Business to Business buyer/seller relationship forever.

The availability of Information and technological innovation has created a power shift away from sellers, placing control firmly in the hands of the customers.

There are no more ‘rainmakers’ selling ice to eskimos, the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort’s, famous high pressure sales tactics won’t survive and accelerating old sales techniques with technology is just going to accelerate failure.

Sales is now a customer centric pursuit and we need to evolve how we sell or find a new profession!

Before we get into how we can deal with this shift, first we need to need to look beyond the information to really to understand what has changed for the Modern Seller;

#1 – Business Model Change – Everything as a Service

The proliferation of subscription based business models changing how customers purchase. Instead of buying a product or service with a high initial upfront investment with ongoing maintenance costs they can now purchase in monthly or annual instalments.

This is transformative as the lower cost democratizes the buying process, enabling anyone in the business with a credit card to make a purchase decision. fuelling a transactional sale.

What does this mean for salespeople?

Unlike in a traditional models the lower initial investment means that revenue is not realised at the first sale. Some businesses need to retain customers for 1,2 – 5 years to achieve profitably. Sales need to align their solution with the customer’s desired outcomes so that that they continue to subscribe to your service, well after the initial ‘close.’

#2 – Business buyers are becoming like consumers – Buying online!

Think about a personal purchase you made recently, whether that be for clothes, food, wine or a holiday. You identified that you had a need, researched and compared solutions online then made your purchase decision. If your purchase met your desired outcome, maybe you shared this experience with your friends, families and colleagues. This was a relatively seamless journey with you, the buyer, in the driving seat and predominantly online!

67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally

B2B buyers are demanding a similar buying experience. The explosion of content enables business customers to better understand the problems they face, how others have solved them and stack rank potential solutions, Comparing pricing, features and your credibility before they even before they speak to anyone in sales.

Traditional sales methodologies have failed to keep pace with this customer change, developing a sales innovation gap.

sales innovation gap

What does this mean for salespeople?

If you aren’t engaging your customers online you are missing an opportunity to influence during the formative process of researching problem solutions, Waiting for the customers to contact you means that you are late to the game, opinions and solutions have been formed making making your job of influencing the journey a losing battle. We need to embrace the customer’s digital problem solving process!

#3 The explosion of sales enablement technology

In recent years we have seen a proliferation of SaaS solutions to help the B2B seller  close the innovation gap and support the customers problem solving process. From helping you identify potential customers on LinkedIn to getting the contract signed with digital signature apps like DocuSign and PandaDoc and manage your customers success with or Zendesk.

What does this mean for salespeople?

When deployed with traditional techniques and tactics these efficiency tools are accelerating bad sales behavior and training buyers to ignore sales messages. Think about that generic email you recently received or the unwanted cold call that sounded scripted. They are accelerating failure!

On the flip side, when deployed with a customer centric methodology they are transformative, accelerating the problem solving process and increasing sales effectiveness exponentially

These 3 trends have transformed the selling b2b selling dynamic for ever. Although there have been several changes in activities and tools there has been no significant realignment of sales approach and methodology to align to the customer.

In my next post we will be introducing you to the Winning by Design customer centric methodology, helping your customers along their Problem Solving Journey and delivering the new approach that can accelerate your sales.

Stay tuned, Over the coming weeks I will unravelling how to become a Modern Seller and succeed in this evolving customer world. Look out for my next post ‘It’s not sales anymore. It’s dynamic problem solving”.

Happy selling!