For most B2B companies, if you're not out selling, you're probably not winning.
Unfortunately, selling successfully is often easier than it looks and there are a number of hard truths companies are likely to encounter at some part of the sales cycle.
Here are five of the most important lessons...
1. Selling cost savings is tough
Few companies like spending more money than is necessary, but 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 value proposition is savings, don't be surprised if you end up on the back-burner.
2. 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 money than anticipated to get going.
The same logic often applies to the sales 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 your sales cycle based on real-world experience, assume you're underestimating.
3. Timing is everything
One of the biggest sales challenges B2B businesses face is the budgeting cycles -- cycles that are especially common at larger companies. Sales 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.
4. 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. Put simply, if a prospective customer can't easily figure out from which budget your product or service should be paid for -- a more common occurrence than one might think -- your salespeople may be left in sales purgatory regardless of how attractive your offering is.
5. Legal can be a deal-breaker
One of the last steps in the sales process, legal, can easily delay a deal, or break it altogether. While it's nice to assume that a standard agreement will pass muster, the reality is that your agreement is likely to be sent to an attorney who will rarely have the same urgency to close that you do.