Let’s be honest — there are a lot of ways to mess up a B2B meeting. (Or even totally, yes, fuck it up.) There are millions of B2B salespeople globally (and the number is actually going up despite what we think tech did to B2B) and, let’s face it, not everyone is making quota. Not every deal gets done. So along the way, people are fucking up these meetings. But how?
Before we get to the actual research meat of all this, here’s a few we’ve seen over the years (all fun but true stories):
- One B2B sales guy went to a baseball game before a big meeting. He was with a different client and consumed 11 Miller Lites, then went to his B2B pitch with a different client. You can guess how it ended.
- One B2B principal vomited over an expensive carpet in the meeting (food poisoning from the night before).
- “Your wife is stunning.” (pause) “That’s my daughter.”
- Mispronouncing the names of key stakeholders and/or the products the company currently makes.
- His assistant/admin sent him with the wrong folders/files and the B2B sales principal didn’t check/follow through, so he launched into the wrong pitch aimed at the wrong person.
Those are all funny examples we’ve seen go wrong in the last few years. Now to the meat, though.
You’re selling the features instead of the benefits
Buyers don’t really care as much as we think about the features. Most of the features should be listed on your website or on a one-pager you leave with them. They can find out the features, or if it’s highly technical, they’ll send someone else to see a demo of the features in action. The check-writer wants to understand the benefits of what you’re selling.
There are essentially seven types of strategic value:
- Gain a competitive advantage
- Increase revenue
- Decrease cost
- Increase productivity while reducing risk (speed up)
- Improve customer experience
- Improve quality
- Standardize operations
Which of these seven does your product do? That’s where your benefits lie. You sell to that. The features, integrations, capabilities? No one who has spend gives as much of a crap about those things as we think. They’ll kick those discussions down the line or to their “technical person.” They want to know: Is this going to save my money? Can I throat-punch rivals with it? Is my risk posture declining?
You’re being self-centered
Study participants were asked to choose the primary reason they don’t like meeting with salespeople. Their answers reveal they feel pressured because salespeople are self-centered.
There’s also this graphic:
In short: you need to remove your own agenda, and your own ego, from the process. We all realize you need this sale. You want it. But it’s not about you, and never should be — especially in B2B, where a lot of what you need to do is satiate different decision-makers. It’s always about them. You can go to the pub or the soccer pickup game and have it be about you there. Not in the sales cycle.
You keep giving the same sales pitch
It’s canned and it’s bullshit.
Learn about your buyers. Learn things like:
- Their career arc
- What they share online
- Family composition
- Tenure with this company
- How many re-orgs of department/role have there been recently?
- How long in current solution?
- Did they inherit?
- What do their kids do for fun?
- Is their entire week meetings?
Know the person. Understand what drives them. Almost all the above you can find out by Google, LinkedIn, other platforms — and asking questions.
Once you know the buyer, you know how to pitch. A dude that sits in meetings all week wants to get out of the office and do something. A guy that’s always getting re-org’ed and having to travel wants to take it easy and shoot the shit about life for a while before we get into benefits. A guy that’s been at Company Y for 22 years has a very ingrained way of thinking, and probably can’t think any new ways.
Every person, and every organization, is uniquely different. Sure, a lot of them copy each other in terms of best practices and marketing, and that’s often bullshit-y to see in execution. But the people that make up the teams, and drive the decisions, are different. You need to learn about them, the org, and their relationship to the org. Once you know that, you tailor the pitch.
If you go canned for everyone, you won’t be working in sales too long. Here’s some more essential stuff about B2B sales.