Practice what you preach. Sell like you would like to be sold to.

Practice what you preach. Sell like you would like to be sold to.
Photo by Austin Distel / Unsplash

I think we can all agree that B2B sales have changed dramatically over the last few years. With the rise of the internet we moved from in-person selling to selling online. Sales teams got access to wonderful CRMs, sales engagement tools to build sequences, and social networks like LinkedIn, making research and reaching out to leads easier than ever before.

Same thing goes for the buyer, the landscape has definitely changed. Buyers have lots of alternatives for any product they need. Think of something like a CRM. Off the top of your head, how many can you think about in 20 seconds? Unless you’re living under a rock, I’d say you can at least think about three or four. Do a google search, and you’ll probably find a lot more.

With a lot more alternatives and readily available information, our expectations are also higher. Not only about the products themselves, but about the experience. We expect brands to educate us and provide great content. In some cases, we also expect to try the product even before we think about purchasing it, at no cost and without any human interaction. It goes without saying that the more friction a buying experience has, the least the probability of buying that product or service.

The days of the pushy salesperson are long gone. We hate being sold to and despise unsolicited messages and information, and with good reason. With so many ways to reach out to us consumers, those people and companies that seem pervasive and pushy stick out as undesirable. To put it plainly and in the B2B context, sending out ten emails, two cold calls, and three LinkedIn messages, is not cool. As a matter of fact, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

OK. So we know that annoying leads with tons of messaging is, for the lack of a better word, bad. Plus, we are complicated buyers ourselves and have high expectations. All this said, one question still remains, Why do we keep using old sales strategies ourselves?

It is not uncommon to see on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, buyers complaining about how salespeople are annoying them. Some say that LinkedIn has become unbearable because one out of three connection requests come with a sales pitch. Others, more controversial, say that cold calling is dead. And others complain about their email inboxes being crowded with spam.

But here is what the mindblowing fact is, it is us who make these valid complaints that encourage that pushy behavior from their sales teams. They want them to reach out to as many people as possible within a certain criteria, and make sure they cover all the different touchpoints.

Think about the dichotomy we face here. More than a contradiction, it’s a complete lack of empathy. Why would we like to bother others with the same behaviors that annoy us?

Truth is. There is not a clear answer. One can account it to a lack of process innovation. Because it’s the way people have done it in the past, we don’t change it. Maybe we are just reluctant to make a change?  Another reason could be the KPIs themselves, which incentivize this behavior. Could be, but there is no exact answer to why we do it, all we know is it makes no sense at all.

At the end of the day, we all sell something. It’s how we make a paycheck and a living. And we all want to produce the best results. However, at the same time, we’re also buyers, we consume stuff all the time. The two perspectives, buyer and seller, should not live in separate universes. As a matter of fact, they complement each other. When buying, think about how the seller thinks and acts, and when selling, think about the buyer.

I think we’ve all said it at least once, sales have to change. Spam and cold calling need to stop. Certainly, things like Product-Led Growth and Inbound have made it better, but there are still some that are sticking to old outdated practices. How can we start the change? Well. Like anything, the easiest thing to do is start with yourself. Practice what you preach, and start selling like you were the buyer.

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