Three Deadly C’s Are Draining Sellers’ Access and Influence

by Jesse Laffen

There are three forces at work in modern selling that are stifling revenues in B2B companies. Though they’re rarely spoken by name, the effects of these forces are extremely well-known. They pop up in conversation like this:

It doesn’t matter what we do, the best price always wins.”

I can’t get the right people to take a meeting”

It used to be a hot lead, but now I’m getting ‘ghosted.’”

Today’s prospects have developed a routine method of buying that leads to statements just like these. They’re being caused by the Three Deadly C’s:

  • Commoditization: Sellers all sound the same, and prospects can’t tell them apart.
  • Compressed Selling Time: More and more of the purchase process is made without a seller in the picture.
  • Consensus Decision-Making: Prospects no longer have a single decision-maker, opting instead for decision-by-committee.

Prospects have been operating this way for a long time now. They have no incentive to change the rules. Option one is to respond, providing more value earlier in the sale. Option two is to resign, wait to be invited and compete on price alone.

Each of the Three Deadly C’s renders a different punishment upon today’s unprepared or ill-equipped seller. Understanding each one is the start to reversing the tide and gaining back access and influence in your sale.

Commoditization

What if the reason prospects buy based on price has nothing to do with savings?

In order to understand why prices play an outsized role in your sale, you must understand how the human brain is wired to make decisions. Your prospects aren’t actually built to make the best decision, especially when the best decision is a difficult one.

Instead, your prospect’s brain is looking to make the easy decision, but not because your prospects are lazy.

The part of the brain responsible for keeping us alive is the part that makes most decisions. If it gets confused, it removes confusion rather than engaging more resources to figure things out. It’s just biology

You’ve likely seen this in action. A prospect tells you that they’re trying to get an “apples-to-apples comparison.” Instead, they’re removing complexity so they can make the easy call: the lowest price.

But prospects that see you as the way to solve a priority won’t need to compare. They’re hungry, and your apple is the solution.

Prospects commoditize us when we fail to reach that connection. We show up and say many of the same things as our competitors. Our differentiators never make a prospect think, “This is going to make a threat disappear.”

Compressed Selling Time

What if we lived in a world where information had no value?

Years ago, winning deals was based on proximity and responsiveness. If a prospect wanted to learn about a product or a solution, they had to contact the companies selling it to gather information.

Today? That’s no longer the case.

Prospects that enter the marketplace have all the information they could ever want. Like anything, when the marketplace is flooded with a particular item, that item loses value.

Since the internet started to really work, information has lost all value.

Because of this, prospects do most of the buying without you. They do the research. They name a solution. They contact three to five organizations they think can do what they want.

Is it possible that the prospect got it wrong? Absolutely! In fact, when prospects buy with a trusted advisor (read: seller) at their side, from the very beginning, they report less remorse and higher satisfaction. But here’s the problem:

Sellers that only offer information provide no value, so why bring them in?

If you want to take back some of that time, you have to show up with something of value: insights that help them understand emerging threats and explain why things are happening to them are the way to unlock access. They get you in, earlier on, so you have the time you need to find their priority and connect with it.

Consensus Decision-Making

When was the last time the whole family wanted the same thing for dinner?

For most of us, planning something as predictable and repeatable as dinner can be a challenge. Here’s some bad news: Your prospect is trying to decide something way more complicated, with far more people and even stronger competing priorities.

Every time the economy restricts, buying teams get larger. Every time the economy expands, the size of those buying teams stays the same. It’s not unheard of today to deal with seven or more members of a buying committee.

It’s a wonder anything gets bought at all.

As sellers, we often work against ourselves by trying to meet the individual priorities of individual members. Unfortunately, making this work relies on the committee finding their own cohesion. It leaves too much to chance. Sellers that understand how to unite the committee around a shared priority will shorten cycle times and lose fewer deals.

Prepare and Equip Your Team

You have certainly felt the Three Deadly C’s. If you want to stay relevant in today’s accelerating world, you must find a way to conquer them. If you have answers for any of the following questions, you’re off to a good start:

  • What is the real reason prospects should choose you?
  • What would you say to a high-level decision-maker to get a meeting with her next week?
  • What group priority can you unite a committee around?

If you can’t answer these and you don’t take action, you face a future of fulfillment. Your sales team will exist to produce quotes when asked and will win when they’re the lowest price.

The alternative is a future in which your team is providing real value, one where you’re helping prospects eliminate threats and solving emerging challenges. When you win back your access and influence, it’s a much happier and financially healthier place to be.

Jesse Laffen is a co-author of The Priority Sale: How to Connect Your Real Impact to Your Prospects’ Top Priorities, and a partner in Revenue Path Group, where he helps B2B sales companies prepare and equip their teams to sell the way modern prospects buy.

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