In our book, The Collaborative Sale1, my colleague Keith Eades and I looked closely at the behaviors of top performing sales professionals, especially those selling business-to-business (B2B) solutions. We identified how exceptional sellers align with modern buyer preferences, and we described various methods for achieving strong results consistently.

5 factors of success in B2B selling

We discovered that, on average, the top 16 percent of salespeople were producing at least half and up to four-fifths of sales in their organizations. We call these salespeople Eagle performers. When we observed Eagles’ behavior, we found they follow distinct patterns which differ from most sellers, whom we call Journeypeople.

Most Journeypeople exhibit different aspects of Eagle behavior, but Eagles do all of them consistently and at a high standard of quality. Here are the five things that modern sellers do to achieve Eagle status in B2B sales.

  1. Dynamic Buyer-Aligned Sales Process

    Eagle performers use a map for success, but one that is flexible and adaptable. They understand who their buyers are, and how they prefer to buy. Eagles then align their sales activity with modern buyer preferences. In other words, they know how to help each buyer buy, in a way that feels comfortable and valuable to that buyer. Eagles use their understanding of buyer preferences to chart an optimum course to a buying decision.

    Journeypeople often have a sales process in mind when they engage with potential customers, but their activities do not always align with individual buyer preferences. They differ from Eagles in how they define their engagement process with buyers. They often see success as completion of selling activities: a meeting, a demonstration, a negotiation, a close, etc. This makes it easy for sellers to race ahead of buyers, however, and get out of alignment with their evaluation and purchase process.

    Eagles understand that success depends on selecting sales activities that provide value to the buyer and help them to achieve useful outcomes. Their sales process is always buyer aligned. While a Journeyperson may believe that a demonstration is needed to prove the value of capabilities to a buyer (usually because they have been taught to sell that way), an Eagle will be open to alternative activities that may achieve the same result, and select those which are of most value to each specific buyer. Eagles’ sales processes do follow a logical progression to a purchase decision, but they are always tailored to each individual buyer. Eagles’ sales processes are both buyer-aligned and dynamic – this is not always true of Journeypeople.

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