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Dec 1, 2017
by Greg Howe, SVP of Worldwide Sales, Zilliant

This article first appeared on Business 2 Community.


B2B sales people are competitive by nature and, as B2B sales leaders, we are responsible for coaching those competitors. Yet, coaching a team that delivers flawless execution with outstanding results can seem as elusive as the World Series Championship was to the Houston Astros in 2013 when they wrapped three consecutive 100-loss seasons. Yet, the Astros did it. By playing out a long-term strategy, they claimed the title. Sales leaders can achieve stunning success as well, they just need the right strategy.


Achieving growth targets hinges on how well your team can improve the total value derived from the existing customer base. Consider this: Sales reps have a 60 to 70 percent probability of selling to an existing customer versus a 5 to 20 percent probability of selling to a new customer. Sounds simple, but the hitch is that sellers are overloaded. Many B2B organizations have tens of thousands of customers and hundreds of thousands of products — the possible selling combinations are endless. This complexity makes it impossible for reps to plan and execute productive customer meetings.


There are countless reasons it’s harder than ever to create a winning team of sellers. I won’t list them all here, but if you lead a B2B sales team, you’re likely already painfully aware of the hurdles to achieving your growth targets. Instead, let’s discuss three secret plays you can use to get your team performing at the highest level possible.


First Play: Protect Installed Business


Every company wants to be the dominant, preferred supplier for each customer. That’s standard in B2B and creates fierce competition for every dollar; aggressive moves from Amazon Business are only adding pressure to an already-tense situation. To protect your existing customer base, reps need to know, from moment to moment, when customers begin purchasing from competitors. When customer defection, or churn, can be flagged at the product category level, reps have a better chance of recuperating that business before one product category results in complete defection.


Second Play: Take Market Share


It’s not enough to be defensive, sales teams need an offense strategy that’s just as strong. In addition to retaining existing customers, sellers also need to know which products customers are likely to need, based on the purchase patterns of similar customers with ideal profiles. For example, instead of calling up customers with an order-taking mentality, or selling the monthly product promotion, reps should be recommending products and categories that other companies in the peer segment are buying. Keeping the conversation grounded in what customers actually need improves relationships, but also results in expanding wallet-share.


Third Play: Close Profitable Deals


Ensuring that sales reps are in the field having rich, relevant conversations with customers and preventing customer churn is critical. Just as a solid offense and defense are critical to a championship, so is ensuring that your team earns every point available on the field. The final secret to achieving your growth target is equipping sales reps to close profitable deals. This means tightening up pricing practices such as over-discounting (lost profits), or over pricing (lost sales). Reps need to know, for every selling circumstance, the right price to charge that won’t result in lost business and won’t leave money on the table.


The great part about these secret B2B sales plays is that business complexity can be an asset versus an obstacle. Companies own a vast wealth of information in their existing, transactional data sets. When artificial intelligence is applied to this data, sellers can be fed an actionable, continuous stream of insights from the plays above. When this intelligence is integrated into their normal selling processes, sales reps are super-charged to execute flawless customer-facing meetings that protect installed business, reduce attrition and churn, take back market share, and close deals that are more profitable.