Sales lessons companies learn the hard way

For most companies, if you’re not out selling, you’re probably not winning.

Unfortunately, selling successfully to other businesses is often easier than it looks. There are several sales lessons or hard truths companies are likely to encounter at some part of the sales cycle.

Here are five of the most important  sales lessons…

  1. Selling cost savings is tough

Few companies like spending more money than is necessary. That doesn’t mean that a product or service designed to save money is always an easy sell. For many businesses, products and services that can add to top line revenue are far more attractive than those designed to bolster the bottom line.

While this doesn’t mean that selling cost savings is impossible, if your primary customer value proposition is savings, don’t be surprised if you end up on the back-burner.

  1. The sales cycle is almost always longer than you expect

Entrepreneurs starting new businesses are often told to take the amount of money they think they need to get off the ground and double it. The reason: it usually takes more time, and therefore money, than anticipated to get going.

The same logic often applies to the buying cycle. If you believe, for instance, that it will take three months to close a sale, think again: there’s a good chance it will take longer, and perhaps significantly longer. So, if you haven’t yet established the length of the buying cycle based on real-world experience, assume you’re underestimating.

  1. Timing is everything

The biggest sales challenges B2B businesses face is the budgeting cycle. Budgeting cycles that are especially common at larger companies. Budgeting cycles are particularly relevant when selling larger-ticket products or services, or products or services associated with capital budgets, and can easily delay deals by six months to a year.

  1. There’s no place in the budget for you

Your business may have the perfect product or service, but successfully selling it will often require more than affordability. In many cases, the where is just as important, if not more important, than the how much. If a prospective customer can’t easily figure out from which budget your product or service should be paid for. More common occurrence than one might think, your salespeople may be left in sales purgatory regardless of how attractive your offering is.

  1. Legal can be a deal-breaker

The last steps in the sales process, legal, can easily delay a deal, or break it altogether. Don’t assume that a standard agreement will pass muster. The reality is that your agreement is likely to be sent to a lawyer who will rarely have the same urgency to close that you do.

Perhaps the most helpful advice is to consider it as a buying cycle rater than a selling cycle…


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