The power our beliefs have over decisions and actions in all aspects of life is immense.  Some of our "professional" or business-related beliefs (i.e. cold calling never works!!) may be based on past experience, some of them are considered industry standards, even opinions of trusted sources can get adopted into mainstream decision making.  Regardless of the origin of current beliefs, to stay present and effective in B2B sales requires ongoing self-examination. Doing that will make sure that dated theories and practices that can be a barrier to success are rooted out.   

"Reps don't do things with prospects because they were looking for the worst engagement option, they were doing what they believed to be the right thing."

Over the last 20+ years, needless to say the selling landscape has radically shifted; every stage of the sales cycle is different than it was pre-Y2K.  Successful professionals  and companies have acknowledged that and went on to adapt and align by modifying how they relate to prospects.  

8 areas that have changed:

  1. The solutions and infrastructure have changed
  2. The stakeholders involved have changed
  3. The information about vendors available in the public domain has changed
  4. The budgets and allocation of those budgets have changed
  5. The way we communicate has changed
  6. The way we market has changed
  7. The way we engage has changed
  8. Business culture has changed

"Have  your sales practices changed?" 

The entire terrain of B2B sales from the buyers perspective has changed; buyers are much more empowered and are more informed.  Something that has been slower to change are the methods used by many sales professionals, and sales management. The consequences of not modernizing processes are sales pipelines are not as healthy as they should be, conversions are below expectations, reps struggle to make numbers, management is pressured, marketing programs lack ROI, etc. (the list goes on....)

This isn't rooted in a deliberate choice of bad practices, it goes back to doing what they believe is the right thing in many different areas.  

What are some of the outdated beliefs that can hurt production?

BELIEF: Cold calling and cold emailing are dead

FACT: Outbound calling is still the #1 best performing marketing activity per the DMA annual study.  The things that are dead, are bad calls and cheesy emails.  People don't take bad calls and they don't like emails that are manipulative; they dotake calls that are a good use of their time and will read and respond to emails that make sense.  

BELIEF: Social media doesn't make a difference closing deals on the front lines

FACT: Social media is the best option to learn about your prospects before calls/meetings. In 10 minutes, you can learn more than ever via social media and social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, InsideView, Hoovers, to align with your buyer and not waste time asking about areas they already disclosed publicly. Sales management often has the opinion that social media doesn't close deals, but it needs to be looked at as a tool not a sales channel. If you look at it as a highly valuable resource to "learn and listen," the results are very positive and make a difference in the sales cycle. 

BELIEF: If prospects don't call back after a couple of attempts they aren't interested

FACT: Business leaders are more time constrained than ever. They are working 70+hours a week, in back-to-back meetings, dealing with hundreds of emails daily, and much more. Having to call prospects 8+ times is totally normal in today's busy work environments.  This is well-documented by many respected sources, yet the standard outreach is still 3x and then abandoned.  Deals never get traction when there is a lack of persistence. 

BELIEF: Leads are only good a few days and go cold  

FACT: If you try to keep a conversation going by focusing on an event (webinar, email, white paper, etc.) then yes, interest in that goes cold. BUT interest and activity related to the topic likely hasn't changed. They are still working on what caught their attention in the first place. Follow up and subsequent discussions should stay focused on a topic, not a past event.  Their interest isn't a transaction with a limited shelf-life, it's a clue to a bigger picture.

BELIEF: Junior people work on the front lines to support senior level reps in the field

FACT: With the amount of complexity in today's selling landscape, the people on the front lines need to be more business savvy than ever to be able to mentally map real-time what prospects say (or do) to topics. They need to be able to engage in peer-level, situationally fluent discussions with senior management. It requires a highly-developed skillset to engage and maintain an open dialog with prospects at that level.  Putting junior people on the front lines leaves enormous amounts of revenue on the table from missed opportunities just from under-developed conversation skills.

BELIEF: I'll spend time researching the prospects and companies when I know they are interested  

FACT: Prospects go into meetings fully researched, and know what they want to talk about.  When sales reps put off learning about prospects until after the meeting, it leads to less productive early meetings having to cover ground that was available in the public domain, and risks missing big opportunities to progress their interest.  It seems like a small thing, but early meetings set the stage for the whole process and can accelerate success. 

BELIEF: In-person meetings are the way people buy

FACT: One thing I see is many times the people that believe this come from the "era of in-person, more formal meetings" (which they prefer themselves) and like the idea of coming to an onsite meeting. Which is great, I get it, I used to fly all over the country meeting prospects, and it was effective.  And in some cases an onsite meeting definitely is the way to go; however, it is very common, effective, expected, and well-received to have early meetings happen via WebEx, Skype, etc.  Millions of dollars of revenue happen from remote meetings,  don't let a personal preference obstruct the progress of a deal.

BELIEF: CRM is a waste of time, I'm not sharing my information

FACT: A CRM will enable you to be in the right place at the right time. You can set yourself up for success by documenting where you have been, and where you need to go. It is an excellent tool to plan, collect, and review what needs to happen in an account. You can also collect and prepare content to go out to prospects based on areas of interest they have disclosed. Staging the right content at the right time makes an impact to fill white space between live conversations and goes a long way. You can set up tasks, alerts, etc. that enable you to pull it all together to take precise steps to progress deals.  

"Maximizing impact at each interaction is what is needed with the new sales terrain"